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Key Stage 3

18. Mr. Miliband: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what priority she will give to raising standards at Key Stage 3. [888]

Mr. Timms: Our new Key Stage 3 strategy aims to help schools raise standards in secondary education, building on the successful literacy and numeracy primary strategies and the work from our pilot that started in 205 schools in autumn 2000. From this September, we will be phasing in the strategy with the English and mathematics strands, to be followed by science, teaching and learning in the foundation subjects (TLF) and ICT.

Lifelong Learning

19. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her plans are for expanding resources for lifelong education. [889]

Margaret Hodge: Total expenditure by my Department on lifelong learning will increase from £11.6 billion in 2000–01 to £14.7 billion in 2003–04, an increase of 18 per cent. in real terms. We are also seeking to expand the investment made by individuals and employers in lifelong learning through Individual Learning Accounts and other measures. This is against a background of a forecast increase in total Government expenditure on education in the UK from 4.8 per cent. to 5.3 per cent. of GDP over the same period.

IT Skills (Older People)

20. Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to promote IT skills for older people to increase their work and leisure potential. [890]

John Healey: The Department leads on a range of measures to promote IT skills for everyone including older people, such as UK online centres, learndirect, and Wired-up Communities. This is part of our activity to encourage lifelong learning for all, to help close the digital divide, to increase peoples' employability, and to use new technologies to enrich peoples' lives.

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Higher Education

21. Mrs. Betty Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on her plans to widen participation in higher education. [891]

Margaret Hodge: Widening participation is a key goal for this Government. We want half of all young people to have the opportunity to benefit from higher education by the end of the decade. In this spending review the Higher Education Funding Council for England have allocated £550 million to widen participation over the next three years. In addition the Excellence Challenge will put £90 million into schools and further education colleges. We shall continue to consider what further steps we need to take to tackle the barriers that inhibit the widening of participation in higher education.

School Administration

22. Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what meetings she (a) has had and (b) plans to have with the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers to discuss the level of administration in schools. [892]

Mr. Timms: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I continue to meet regularly with heads' and teachers' representatives to discuss a wide range of subjects. On 2 July, we met representatives of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers and other teacher and headteacher associations to take stock of progress on the independent study of teacher workload.

Mr. Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what meetings she has had with the Secondary Heads Association to discuss the level of administration in schools. [874]

Mr. Timms: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I continue to meet regularly with heads' and teachers' representatives to discuss a wide range of subjects. On 2 July, we met representatives of the Secondary Heads Association and other teacher associations to take stock of progress on the independent study of teacher workload.

Workplace Communications

23. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has for the improvement of workplace communications through the development of the union learning fund. [893]

John Healey: We have been greatly encouraged by the response to the union learning fund, including projects supporting basic skills, English as a second language and the development of IT learning centres. Union learning representatives, who communicate with employees, employers and training providers to promote learning in the workplace, have made an important contribution to improving workplace communications. The Government are currently consulting on giving statutory backing to union learning representatives to give them formal recognition and to build up their numbers through the union learning fund.

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Teacher Morale

24. Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action is being taken to improve teacher morale. [894]

Mr. Timms: A broad range of action being taken will help to improve teacher morale. These include improvements in the pay, status and working conditions of teachers, backed by real-terms increases in funding for schools and measures giving greater automony to successful schools and greater support for schools in more challenging circumstances.

25. Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she last met representatives of the National Union of Teachers to discuss teacher morale. [896]

Mr. Timms: My right hon. Friend met representatives of the National Union of Teachers, together with representatives of all the main teacher unions, on 2 May and discussed issues related to teacher morale and the setting up of an independent study into teachers' workloads.

Teachers (Working Conditions)

26. Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proposals she has to encourage more suitable individuals into teaching, with special reference to improving working conditions. [897]

Mr. Timms: A range of measures is in place to encourage suitable people into teaching. Improved funding for schools and increased starting salaries have helped to bring about an extra 12,600 teachers in maintained schools in England between January 1998 and January 2001. But greater expectations and extra resources in the system have created more teaching posts and vacancies still exist. Training bursaries worth £6,000 have been introduced to attract more graduates into teaching, with new style golden hellos of £4,000 for those who go on to teach in shortage subjects. London weighting allowances have been lifted by 30 per cent and recruitment and retention allowances of up to £5,085 are now available to schools. We will also attract experienced teachers back to the profession and welcome back bonuses of between £2,000 and £4,000 are planned. These measures are set against a backdrop of increasing funding for schools, which has risen by £540 per pupil since 1997, and more resources for increasing the numbers of teaching assistants and improving working conditions generally. Grants have been made available to schools, through local education authorities to ensure that all school staff have better working conditions and ready access to the equipment they need to work effectively. The Government have invested more than £5 billion in school buildings since 1997, and £7,8 billion in England over the next three years is the biggest schools capital spending programme in decades.

School Finance

27. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if it is her policy to introduce a new system of financing schools in 2002–03. [898]

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Mr. Timms: The Government are currently undertaking a review of local government funding. As part of that wider review we are working with local government and schools partners on the proposals in the September 2000 Green Paper "Modernising Local Government Finance" for a new LEA and school funding system. The Government have not yet decided on the timing or the final shape of any changes to the local government grant distribution system.

Teacher Recruitment

28. Liz Blackman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to recruit more teachers. [899]

Mr. Timms: Our recruitment and retention measures have already secured more teachers than for over a decade and the number of trainee teachers has risen for the first time in eight years. We have pledged at least 10,000 extra teachers by 2006.

To achieve this, we have announced a teacher retention and recruitment fund to support schools in areas where there are difficulties; an extension to English of the £4,000 golden hellos for newly-qualified teachers of shortage subjects; an expansion of the Graduate Teacher Programme; and new courses for those returning to teaching. We are also proposing a welcome back bonus for people returning to teaching this year and a scheme to help pay off, over time, the student loans of new teachers in shortage subjects who commit themselves to a career in the maintained sector.


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