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Fresh Start Schools

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what examination and test results of pupils at Fresh Start schools are (a) collected and (b) published; and if he will make a statement. [101178]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 6 December 1999]: Fresh Start schools are obliged to follow the National Curriculum. The pupils of Fresh Start schools are therefore tested at the end of Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. In addition the pupils will be examined at GCSE/GNVQ and A Level/AGNVQ, where appropriate.

The results of the Key Stage 2 test will be published in the primary performance tables. The results of the GCSE/GNVQ and A Level/AGNVQ will be published in the secondary and 16-18 performance tables respectively.

Teachers' Pay

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many applications have been

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received for the post of communications strategist in his Department to market the Government's performance- related pay proposals. [101392]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 6 December 1999]: The Department has received 52 applications for the post of Communications Strategist.

As a modern profession, teachers have a right to expect the best communications to ensure they have timely and targeted information to help them do their job well. This post will co-ordinate and streamline all teacher communications.

The post is not about marketing performance-related proposals, but about providing a range of information to teachers.

Special Educational Needs

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what arrangements he has made to disseminate to local education authorities and schools best practice in the handling of specific learning difficulties (a) in special facilities and (b) alongside other pupils. [101466]

Jacqui Smith: The Action Programme, published in response to the Green Paper "Excellence for all children: Meeting special educational needs", promotes the inclusion of children with special educational needs within mainstream schooling wherever possible, while recognising the continuing need for special schools for some children. Section 14 of the Education Act 1996 requires local education authorities to have regard to the need for securing that special educational provision is made to these pupils. This duty gives the local education authority a role to decide the organisation of provision to suit the needs of the individual child. The Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs which came into effect on 1 September 1994 provides guidance to help identify and assess children who have specific learning difficulties. The Code is currently being revised to strengthen and improve the guidance and provide examples of best practice.

Raising educational standards lies at the very heart of our education policy. This must include children with special educational needs (SEN) whether in mainstream or special schools. To support provision for SEN pupils the Department has taken a number of steps. For example it has provided a grant to the British Dyslexia Association to help them develop the "Achieving Dyslexia Friendly Schools" resource pack which seeks to demonstrate that it is possible to meet the needs of children with mild to moderate dyslexia in a mainstream classroom. Two copies of this pack have been sent to all local education authorities in England. Also the Department has funded and made available the findings of three research projects on inclusion:

    "Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties in Mainstream Schools", Birmingham University (Published January 1999)

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In addition we will be producing examples of good effective links from our Working Group on Special and Mainstream schools in the summer term 2000.

Education Service Providers

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) if he will publish the bid documents and business plans which have been submitted by those companies invited to tender for the management of local authority education services; [101504]

Ms Estelle Morris: Both the documentation leading up to the inclusion of organisations on our list of function providers for LEA intervention, and the bids submitted in specific cases, are treated as commercial in confidence. Officials have had a large number of meetings with Islington Council, involving elected members, officers, headteachers and school staff, in order to discuss urgent action by Islington officers to improve standards and the planned outsourcing of the service. Officials have also been involved in the evaluation of tenders leading to the recent announcement of a preferred service provider. I have personally met Islington members and officers, spoken to groups of headteachers and visited a number of schools. The proposed contract with the preferred service provider remains under negotiation, but it will include arrangements for regular monitoring against service standards, and link payment to the delivery of targets for pupil performance.

School Sixth Forms

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many proposals for (a) the introduction and (b) the closure of school sixth forms he has received in (i) May 1997 to April 1998, (ii) May 1998 to April 1999 and (iii) in the period since April 1999 respectively; and how many he has (1) accepted, (2) rejected and (3) deferred. [101465]

Ms Estelle Morris: The following table shows the number of proposals decided in each of the periods requested since May 1997. No proposals have been deferred but there is one proposal currently under consideration.

Number approvedNumber rejected
Proposals to introduce sixth forms
May 1997-April 1998621
May 1998-April 199946
May 1999 to date23
Proposals to remove sixth forms
May 1997-April 1998----
May 1998-April 19994--
May 1999 to date1--

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European Regulation

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what appraisals have been produced for extrapolating UK data to cover the rest of the EU with regard to regulatory impact assessments. [100234]

Mr. Stringer: The Government do not keep information in the form requested and could not do so without disproportionate cost.

It is Government policy that all Departments must complete a proper assessment of the risks, costs and benefits in the UK of a new proposal for legislation at either national or European levels. They must show who is affected, and why a non-regulatory option is not possible.

We are keen to see the European Commission improve its existing, similar procedure for scrutinising its own regulatory proposals--it is currently undertaking a review. In the absence of general EU guidance, we have advised Departments that they should extrapolate UK data to cover the rest of the EU when analysing European proposals. This advice is contained in our Guide to Better European Regulation, which was published in July.


Commonwealth Heads of Government


19. Valerie Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the outcome of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference. [99963]

Mr. Hain: My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Durban, South Africa on 12-15 November. The meeting took significant decisions on the future of the Commonwealth, the promotion of democracy and human rights, Pakistan, debt, trade and development.

South Caucasus

20. Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what policy the European Union has for achieving stability in the countries of the South Caucasus. [99964]

Mr. Vaz: The EU aims to enhance stability by promoting regional co-operation in the South Caucasus and by developing the region's relationship with the EU. The main instruments of its policy are the Partnership and Co-operation Agreements (PCAs), and the TACIS regional programmes TRACECA and INOGATE. The PCAs offer the European Community and its member states a platform to address political, economic and assistance related issues in the region. The EU met the three states together at the launch of the PCAs on 22 June and again for the first meeting of the Co-operation Councils on 12 October, and intends to continue with joint meetings.

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