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Youth Unemployment (Cumbria)

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on youth unemployment in (a) Cumbria and (b) Carlisle. [131409]

Ms Jowell: There are currently (June 2000) 2,037 claimant unemployed people aged 18-24 in Cumbria and 447 in Carlisle. In the three years to June 2000 unemployment among young people has fallen by 36 per cent. in Cumbria and by 37 per cent. in Carlisle. The equivalent fall in the UK as a whole over this period is 36 per cent.

Part of this improvement is due to the delivery of a strong and stable economy, but the New Deal for Young People has helped youth unemployment to fall even faster. The New Deal for young people is aimed at people aged 18-24 who have been claiming unemployment benefits for six months or more.

In both Cumbria and Carlisle the fall in unemployment among the New Deal client group has been substantially faster than for other groups. In Cumbria, in the three years to June 2000, claimant unemployment among those aged 18-24, unemployed for six months or more, has fallen by

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71 per cent., from 1,397 to 402. This compares with a fall of 31 per cent. in total unemployment and 51 per cent. in the total number unemployed for six months or more.

In Carlisle, in the three years to June 2000, claimant unemployment among those aged 18-24, unemployed for six months or more, has fallen by 70 per cent., from 274 to 81. This compares with a fall of 31 per cent. in total unemployment and 46 per cent. in the total number unemployed for six months or more.

The impact of the New Deal is confirmed by independent research from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, though it is not possible to measure the New Deal effect exactly in each area of the country.

Pre-school Places (Middlesbrough)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many new pre-school places have been created in the constituency of Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East since May 1997; and if he will make a statement. [131205]

Ms Hodge [holding answer 18 July 2000]: Since this Government came to office, 120,000 new, free, early education places have been created for three and four- year-olds nationally. Data on early years education places are not available by constituency, but we have provided sufficient funding to ensure that all four-year-olds and the majority of three-year-olds in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland receive a free, part time, early education place.

Sex and Relationship Education

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the meaning is of the word (a) inappropriate, as used in (i) paragraph 8 of the introduction, (ii) paragraph 1.8 of and (iii) paragraph 1.14 of and (b) research, as used in paragraph 1.7 of, the Sex and Relationship Education Guidance issued in July 2000. [131195]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 19 July 2000]: We have made it clear that head teachers and governors must not use teaching and materials which are inappropriate with regard to the age and the religious and the cultural background of the pupils concerned. In making their judgments, head teachers and governors should have regard to the Personal, Social and Health Education framework, which sets out what is expected at each Key Stage in education, and to the law.

There is a variety of research that shows that effective sex and relationship education does not encourage early sexual experimentation. These are summarised in the Social Exclusion Unit's Report on Teenage Pregnancy. Copies are available in the Library.

School Science Laboratories (Middlesbrough)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he has taken to update school science laboratories in the constituency of Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East; and if he will make a statement. [131206]

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Jacqui Smith [holding answer 18 July 2000]: Under the initiative "School laboratories for the 21st Century", £60 million is being allocated from the Capital Modernisation fund to tackle deficiencies in secondary school science accommodation over the next two years. This will enable around 400 improvement projects to be carried out at those schools most in need.

In line with the Department's policy of reducing bureaucracy and paperwork, grants are being allocated to local education authorities (LEAs) by formulae. LEAs will then distribute funding to schools according to need. Middlesbrough LEA is to receive £115,109 this year and a further £115,109 in 2001-02.

Additionally, LEAs have been able to apply for funding from the New Deal for Schools (NDS) programme to improve the condition of school laboratories. So far, 151 such projects have been funded, at a cost of just under £37 million. They may also have incorporated improvements to science accommodation within larger schemes of school expansion or rationalisation.

Computer Disasters

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the time it would take to get new computers running in the wake of a major computer disaster in his Department. [130969]

Mr. Wills: Contingency plans exist for all of the major computer systems in the Department and they should be operational again within three working days.

Departmental Initiatives

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list each departmental initiative since May 1997 requiring bids for funding together with the total resources available, the number of successful bids and the proportion this represents of total bids received; and what data he collects on the average expenditure of organisations bidding for funding through each initiative. [131080]

Mr. Wills: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July 2000, Official Report, column 93W.

Health and Sex Education

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what rights parents have to withdraw their children from the health and sex education element of National Curriculum Science at Key Stage 2 for religious reasons. [130976]

Jacqui Smith: Section 405 of the Education Act 1996 gives parents the right to withdraw their children from any or all parts of a school's programme of sex education, but not those elements of health and sex education which are required by the National Curriculum Science Order. We encourage schools and governors to consult parents over their Sex and Relationship Education policy.

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Learning Support Units

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how many Learning Support Units will be established in Nottinghamshire; [131068]

Jacqui Smith: The 223 Learning Support Units (LSUs) in the 24 Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in Phase 1 of the 'Excellence in Cities' (EiC) programme have been established progressively over the current academic year and are now operating. The LSUs in the 22 LEAs in Phase 2 of the EiC programme, which includes the City of Nottingham, will start to be set up from September 2000. Most should be operating from January 2001. We are currently assessing these LEAs' final plans. The LSUs in LEAs outside EiC areas, which includes Nottinghamshire, will be established progressively from September 2000. Most should come into operation between January and March 2001.

The City of Nottingham is planning for all of its 21 secondary schools to have an LSU. Information about Nottinghamshire LEA's plans is not yet available. The Authority was notified on 30 June of its allocation--a total of some £671,000 to cover both capital and recurrent expenditure over the financial years 2000-01 and 2001-02. It is now for the LEA in consultation with its schools to decide how many LSUs to establish within those resources and in which schools.

Learning Support Units are a proven strategy for improving behaviour and reducing exclusions, and they are cost effective. They enable schools to get disruptive pupils out of the classroom quickly while not excluding them. We aim to have over 1,000 established by 2002.

Grammar School Ballots

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment which grammar schools have not provided to Electoral Reform Ballot Services the information required to determine the number of signatures needed for a trigger ballot within the time limit provided by the relevant regulations; and if he will make a statement. [130942]

Ms Estelle Morris: One grammar school has not provided to Electoral Reform Services (ERS), within the time limit, all the information required to determine the number of signatures needed to trigger a ballot. This is the Latymer School in Enfield. The school raised queries before providing a list of feeder schools. ERS have written to the feeder schools and are processing replies.


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