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Class Sizes

25. Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on class sizes in secondary schools since May 1997. [143484]

Ms Estelle Morris: The size of the average secondary class is 22, and in January 1997 it was 21.7. Secondary class sizes rose steadily throughout the last decade--in 1990 the figure was 20.3. Secondary headteachers are receiving an average of £50,000 in direct grant to spend as they choose this year. If this were spent on recruiting teachers, the average secondary class size could be reduced by up to 0.8.

We have secured early delivery of our infant class size pledge for the vast majority of infants, including in North Wiltshire. In the constituency in September 2000, over 98 per cent. of infants were in classes of 30 or fewer pupils. The figure in January 1997 was 81 per cent.

28. Mr. Wells: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on class sizes in secondary schools since May 1997. [143487]

Ms Estelle Morris: The size of the average secondary class is 22, and in January 1997 it was 21.7. Secondary class sizes rose steadily throughout the last decade--in 1990 the figure was 20.3. Secondary headteachers are receiving an average of £50,000 in direct grant to spend as they choose this year. If this were spent on recruiting teachers, the average secondary class size could be reduced by up to 0.8.

We are delivering our infant class size pledge for the vast majority of infants, including in Hertford and Stortford. In the constituency in September 2000, nearly 95 per cent. of infants were in classes of 30 or fewer pupils. The figure in January 1997 was 73 per cent.

New Deal

26. Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what percentage of recruits to the New Deal are in unsubsidised employment. [143485]

Ms Jowell: New Deal has delivered for young people and the economy: figures to the end of October 2000 show that 557,300 young people have joined the New Deal and we know that 262,440 of these young people have moved from benefits to work. Over 72 per cent. of the young people who have left New Deal for employment are now off Jobseeker's Allowance benefits.

40 per cent. of young people who have so far left New Deal go into sustained unsubsidised employment--in addition, independent research has shown that nearly three fifths of those recorded as leaving for an unknown destination do, in fact, find work. Of course many more

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are still gaining help in training and work experience which evidence shows improves their long term employment prospects.

31. Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what recent representations on the New Deal he has received from employers. [143490]

Ms Jowell: The Employment Service is in constant touch with employers across the country to improve its service to them. This is borne out by a record response from employers to New Deal, with over 80,000 having signed Employer Agreements to date.

While we continue to make improvement, an independent survey of employers shows that 84 per cent. are satisfied or very satisfied with the service they receive from the Employment Service.

36. Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the destination of people leaving the New Deal. [143495]

Ms Jowell: Figures to the end of October 2000 show that 457,100 young people have left the New Deal. Of these, 40 per cent. entered sustained unsubsidised employment, 11 per cent. transferred to another benefit, 20 per cent. left to another known destination, and 29 per cent. left to an unknown destination. However, independent research has shown that nearly three fifths of those recorded as leaving for an unknown destination do, in fact, find work.

New Deal's success has meant that over 250,000 young people have been helped into work. We will build on that success and strengthen the New Deal so that it will assist even more people and help ensure that the current low unemployment rate continues.

Literacy

27. Mr. Ronnie Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much funding was earmarked for each of the last four years for literacy in primary schools. [143486]

Ms Estelle Morris: Funding for the implementation of the National Literacy Strategy in primary schools over the last four years is as follows:





In addition, a total of £96 million of Books for Schools grant was allocated to primary and secondary schools in 1997-98 and 1998-99.

£98 million has been allocated for literacy in primary schools in 2001-02 (including £23 million for booster classes).

Sport

29. Mr. Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the Government's policy is on organised sport in schools. [143488]

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Jacqui Smith: The Government are committed to supporting organised sport in schools. Competitive games are a compulsory part of the National Curriculum for Physical Education for children aged 5-14 and are one of the options available for those aged 14-16. Out of school hours, the most popular activity is sport for both primary and secondary children. The Government launched their Sports Strategy "A Sporting Future for All" in April this year. One of its key aims is to increase participation in physical activities in schools, including organised sports. 1,000 School Sports Co-ordinators are currently being appointed. They will be based in communities of greatest need, working in "families" of primary and secondary schools linked wherever possible through LEAs to Specialist Sports Colleges. They will provide opportunities for young people to compete regularly for their school and take part in a wide range of sports outside the curriculum. So far, 143 School Sports Co-ordinators are in place. On 26 September 2000, the Prime Minister also unveiled a further major investment in sport, including £750 million New Opportunities Lottery funding to strengthen the foundation of sport across the UK by building and refurbishing PE and sports facilities in over 1,500 schools and outdoor adventure facilities, which will provide even more opportunities for children to play sport in schools.

Pre-school Provision

30. Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on pre-school provision. [143489]

Mr. Butterfill: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what representations he has received on the number of pre-school places. [143465]

Ms Hodge: Since September 1998, all four-year-olds have been able to access a free, part-time, early education place. By September 2004 all three-year-olds will also be able to access a free place.

We are making £986 million available over the years 2001-02 to 2003-04 for the provision of free places for three-year-olds, and other early years initiatives. By March 2001, some 50 per cent. of three-year-olds nationally will have access to a free early education place. We are making a further 80,000 new places available in 2001-02 which will increase to 66 per cent. the number of three-year-olds accessing a free place by March 2002.

Total expenditure on nursery education will have increased by £1 billion, to £2 billion, over the period from 1996-97 to 2003-04.

School Websites

32. Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to improve the quality of creative work on school websites. [143491]

Mr. Wills: We have recently launched the revised and updated version of the Superhighway Safety information pack, aimed at teachers, learners and parents. As well as addressing the whole range of internet safety issues, this free pack provides advice and guidance on what school websites should (and should not) include. For instance, we advise that schools 'showcase' their pupils' creative work. The pack's website version (http://safety.ngfl.gov.uk) also includes links to examples of particularly good school

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websites, to provide schools with further ideas. Some of the websites showcased in this way have won the British Educational Communications and Technology agency's school website award. These awards are designed to encourage schools to showcase excellent examples of web publishing. As increasing numbers of schools are able to access the internet, we would expect the amount of creative work on display in this way to increase.

ICT

33. Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to ensure that adults in disadvantaged communities gain information and communication technology skills. [143492]

Mr. Wills: The Government are committed, by 2005, to providing access to the internet and information and communications technology (ICT) to everyone who wants it including those in the most disadvantaged communities.

We are taking significant steps towards tackling the difficulties adults in disadvantaged communities face in accessing ICT so that they are able to play an active part in the digital revolution. On 11 September the Prime Minister set out the Government's strategy for getting the UK online. The Prime Minister also announced over 600 successful applications in the first phase of the UK online centres funded through the Capital Modernisation Fund (CMF). These CMF funded centres are specifically targeting the most deprived urban and rural areas and will provide access to ICT and learning provision. By 2002 there will be around 6,000 UK online centres throughout England. These will be based in the heart of local communities in the most convenient locations including public libraries, colleges and community centres.

Learndirect was launched nationally on 25 October 2000. Its services are relevant to people with all kinds of backgrounds, social and economic circumstances and skill needs. The network of learndirect centres, over 770 of which are already in place, will provide local learning facilities offering a supported, end-to-end learning experience.

Learndirect's emphasis on making learning easily accessible makes it possible to target the whole population and yet still reach those who may feel let down by traditional learning. This inclusive approach is supported by the provision of learning which is tailored to meet the needs and commitments of the learner and end-to-end learner support.

50,000 free computer training courses are being made available for jobless people across the country under our UK online computer training scheme. We are also piloting an initiative to wire up homes and schools in some of the most disadvantaged communities in England, and we are introducing the 'Computers within Reach' pilot scheme in which, in the period up to the end of March 2001, we intend to provide 35,000 recycled computers in local pilots in deprived communities.


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