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Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if the special advisers working for him will relinquish their posts when the next general election is called. 
Mr. Wills: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 13 February 2001, Official Report, column 130W.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what funding is available for the education of children with Prader-Willi Syndrome; and if he will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 9 February 2001]: Funding is not made available for specific categories of special educational need. Rather, funding is allocated and distributed via local education authorities (LEAs), who have a duty to provide appropriately for all children in
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their area. This includes the duty to identify children's individual special educational needs and to deliver the most appropriate provision to meet those needs.
More than £21.5 billion is available annually for the education of school children, including children with special educational needs. Over £1 billion of this is used by LEAs to provide additional support for children with special educational needs. We are increasing Education Standard Spending by over £1 billion in 2001-02 and we expect LEAs to passport extra resources to education in full. It will be for individual LEAs and schools to decide what to spend on particular areas of the service.
We have also made £82 million of supported expenditure available for special educational needs in next year's Standards Fund (2001-02). This compares to £55 million this year. The fund can be used for a range of activities including training for staff in special educational needs, improvements in speech and language therapy provision for children with communication difficulties, the provision of information and advice to parents, and the greater inclusion of children with SEN in the mainstream. This latter includes early intervention for pupils with SEN, training on child development and behaviour management, and improved links between special and mainstream schools.
At the individual pupil level we are also working to promote better and more consistent practice, towards all pupils with special educational needs. In particular the revised SEN Code of Practice should promote more consistent practice by schools and LEAs. While individual pupils with SEN will vary in their needs it is important that schools and others adopt a consistent and rigorous approach in identifying and providing for these needs.
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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many families with children currently in receipt of state assistance with fees with the music and ballet scheme will (a) benefit and (b) lose from the proposed restructuring of fee scales for Autumn 2001; what the maximum annual amount of this loss is; and for how many there will be no effect. 
Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 13 February 2001]: The music and ballet scheme helps exceptionally talented children who could not otherwise afford the full cost of intensive tuition. The amount of assistance with fees is based on a sliding scale linked to family income. In the academic year 2001-02, around 23 per cent. of families, those on low incomes, will get free places and make no contribution towards fees. We estimate that 85 per cent. of all families will benefit (or in some cases at least be no worse off) from the proposed restructuring of the parental contribution scales. A middle income family on £30,000 a year will be over £530 better off.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the results of the consultation carried out in connection with his Workstep proposals, with specific reference to target-setting. 
Ms Hodge [holding answer 13 February 2001]: The consultation sought views on how progression might be measured and how it could be increased to allow more people to participate in the Supported Employment Programme--to be known as Workstep from 1 April. The "Summary of Responses" to the public consultation exercise was published in May 2000 and were placed in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the percentage of higher education students (a) in England and (b) from North Somerset who discontinued their studies citing financial hardship/debt as the main reason in each of the past five years. 
Mr. Wicks: The Department does not have data on the reasons given by higher education students who discontinue their studies. The non-completion rate in the UK has remained broadly steady at 17-18 per cent. since 1991-92.
Mr. Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much money the Government estimate they have saved by abolishing the maintenance grant and introducing tuition fee contributions in higher education; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wicks: We estimate that continuing with the previous Government's student support policies for undergraduates normally resident in England and Wales, rather than replacing them with our new ones, would have led to an additional cost to the Government of £1.5 billion over the three years 1998-99 to 2000-01 on a resource basis (this is the full economic cost taking account of loan repayments in future years). The extra resources thus available through our policies, which share the cost of
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higher education more fairly between students, their families and taxpayers, have enabled us to invest substantially in higher education. Over the period 1998-99 to 2003-04, the increase in resources available to the HE sector will be 18 per cent. in real terms.
Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the capital value of the endowment that would be required to enable higher education institutions to generate an income sufficient to equal the total amount of public funding currently received on an annual basis. 
Mr. Blunkett: The value of the required endowment is uncertain. Assuming a gross return of 6-7 per cent., of which some 2.5 per cent. points is used to maintain the real value of the capital, an endowment of over £80 billion is likely to be required in England to meet the costs of teaching currently funded through the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Including the costs of research funded through the Higher Education Funding Council for England, an endowment of over £110 billion is likely to be required.
Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how many (a) men and (b) women (i) are serving as panel members in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise and (ii) served in this capacity in the 1992 and 1996 Research Assessment Exercises; 
Mr. Wicks: The information requested is in the tables. Information about the gender of panel members for the 1992 Research Assessment Exercise is not available centrally. Some 10 per cent. of professors are women.
|2001||544 (80%)||134 (20%)|
|1996||437 (83%)||88 (17%)|
(25) Not available
|2001||50 (83%)||10 (17%)|
|1996||54 (91%)||5 (9%)|
|1992||56 (93%)||4 (7%)|
Higher Education Funding Council for England
Dr. Brand: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many responses to the consultation on National Standards for the Regulation of Day Care and Childminding in England published in July 2000 were received; how many of the responses received were
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included in the sample considered in the process of reaching the decision not to ban childminders from smoking in front of children in their care; what method was used to select the sample of responses considered in reaching this decision; and how many respondents whose responses were considered in making the assessment (i) opposed the proposal that parents should be allowed to decide whether childminders should be allowed to smoke, (ii) supported the proposal and (iii) neither supported nor opposed the proposal. 
Ms Hodge: The Government have made clear that smoking will be prohibited in all group day care settings not based in the home, and in all childminding settings unless parents give their explicit consent. In addition the draft standards state that childminders must promote the good health of children in their care.
We received approximately 6,000 responses to our consultation exercise on the draft national standards for the regulation of day care. Of these, an initial analysis of 1,069 was carried out, of which 335 related directly to our proposals for national standards for childminders. The selection of responses for the initial analysis was done on the basis of a random sample, although we made sure that we also considered the responses of key organisations in the early years sector, including the National Childminding Association.
In answering the question "Do you agree with the criteria set down for this standard?", which contained the proposal to allow childminders to smoke in front of children in their care with parents' consent, 37 per cent. disagreed while 63 per cent. agreed.
Having completed our consultation on the national standards we were concerned that the views of parents had not been adequately represented. That is why the Government commissioned an independent opinion poll of over 1,000 parents to ask them whether parents or the Government should decide on whether childminders should be permitted to smoke in the presence of children in their care. A significant majority (74 per cent.) agreed with our view that this is a matter on which parents rather than the Government should decide.
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