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Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what average class sizes were in (a) East Sussex and (b) Eastbourne for (i) secondary and (ii) primary schools, in May 1997 and on the most recent date for which figures are available. 
|East Sussex local education authority|
|Maintained primary key stage 1||27.3||26.1|
|Eastbourne parliamentary constituency|
|Maintained primary key stage 1||29.2||27.0|
January 2000 saw a fall in the size of the average junior class in England; and a continuing fall in the size of the average primary class, after rising for a decade. The size of the average secondary class nationally, at 22, is still five below the average primary class. In 2001-02 secondary headteachers will receive an average of £70,000 and primary headteachers £24,000 in direct grant to spend as they choose, including on reducing class sizes if that is their priority.
By September 2000 there were only 316 infants in classes over 30 in East Sussex compared to 6,433 in January 1998. East Sussex has benefited from over £5 million in grant to enable it to reduce infant class sizes to this extent. In Eastbourne there were 33 infants in classes over 30 in September 2000 compared to 1,637 in January 1998.
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Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many vacant teacher posts there were in schools run by Lancashire education authority in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000 and (e) 2001. 
Ms Estelle Morris: The information requested is shown in table 42 of Statistics of Education, Teachers, England and Wales, 2000 edition, which is available in the House of Commons Library. Lancashire was split into three local authorities from 1 April 1998: Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool.
Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 16 March 2001]: The total amount spent so far on the 73 large zones since the first Education Action Zones began operation in September 1998 is £89.7 million. This works out to approximately £100 per pupil per year for every full year a zone has been in operation.
This funding has led to improvements in the standards of education. In the 25 first round zones which have been running the longest, the proportion of 7-year-olds reaching level 2 in reading, writing and maths has increased by 7, 6 and 8 percentage points respectively since 1998, compared with national increases of 4, 4 and 6 percentage points over the same period. The proportion of 11-year-olds achieving level 4 in English, maths and science has increased by 12, 16 and 20 percentage points respectively, compared with 10, 14 and 16 percentage points nationally.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many teachers, in each local education authority in England and Wales, in (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99 and (c) 1999-2000 took early retirement on (i) medical grounds and (ii) as a result of voluntary early retirement schemes. 
Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 12 March 2001]: There were 14,300 ill-health and premature retirements in 1995-96. This figure rose to 16,100 in 1996-97, was 16,300 in 1997-98 before declining to 5,100 in 1998-99 and was 5,400 in 1999-2000. The high level of retirements in 1996-97 and 1997-98 were due to teachers anticipating changes that were made to the Teachers Pension Scheme in 1997, which resulted in the decline from 1998-99 onwards.
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Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many people have started (a) the employment option, (b) the environmental task force option, (c) the voluntary sector option and (d) the full-time education and training option of the New Deal for 18 to 24 year olds since implementation, by unit of delivery; and how many left for (i) unsubsidised employment, (ii) other benefits, (iii) other known destinations and (iv) unknown destinations at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Ms Jowell [holding answer 27 February 2001]: Starts to each of the New Deal options by Unit of Delivery for the period ending December 2000 and, for the same period, destinations on leaving New Deal either directly from an option or after a period on Follow Through, are contained in tables, copies of which have been placed in the Library.
Of those who have left the New Deal having taken part in an option (including leavers from the follow through stage of the programme), 31 per cent. are recorded as having found work. We know that many others will have left the programme for employment without telling the Employment Service--these people are not included in this figure. The most recent Government survey into unknown destinations, published in January 2001, concluded that the known destinations were representative of unknown destinations. Using this evidence we calculate that 46 per cent. of option participants entered work on leaving New Deal. Work is ongoing to improve the recording of option outcomes so that the raw data better reflect true performance. The cumulative figures mask the fact that all Option performance has steadily improved over the last year.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what advice he gives to LEAs about the employment of teachers qualified in (a) EU and (b) non-EU countries, with particular respect to qualified teacher status; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Estelle Morris: Local education authorities and schools should normally employ teachers who hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Overseas trained teachers without QTS may work for up to four months in any one post and up to two years in total without gaining QTS. Teachers from other EEA countries can apply for QTS under EC mutual recognition arrangements, while teachers from non-EEA countries are only able to gain QTS though the employment based Graduate Teacher Programme. My Department is consulting on proposals to allow overseas trained teachers to teach in one school for up to four years without gaining QTS, and to create a tailored Graduate Teacher Programme which meets their needs.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) on what basis the cost of hiring supply staff will be deducted from the salaries of teachers who do not cover for absent colleagues; 
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Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 16 March 2001]: These are matters for local decision, and the National Employers Organisation for School Teachers has issued guidance to local education authorities. My right hon. Friend has nothing to add and has not issued further guidance.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the cost of increasing the number of specialist schools to 1,000 by 2004; and if this cost will be met from currently planned expenditure. 
Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 16 March 2001]: Planned provision for 1000 specialist schools by September 2004 is: £93 million in 2001-02, £106 million in 2002-03 and £127 million in 2003-04. The Green Paper proposes 1000 specialist schools by September 2003. For this the estimated additional cost is £20 million in 2003-04 if all the additional schools by 2003 are designated in that year.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many children currently in secondary education have been selected by (a) ability and (b) aptitude (i) in total and (ii) in each local education authority. 
Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 16 March 2001]: The Department does not hold centrally information on the number of children who are subject to tests of ability or aptitude for admission to secondary school.
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