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Asylum Appeals

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the outcome was in asylum cases where an appeal was received by his Department but not subsequently sent to the Immigration Appellate Authority for each month of (a) 2001, (b) 2000 and (c) 1999. [172]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 25 June 2001]: Information on the outcome of asylum cases where appeals were lodged with the Home Office, but not sent to the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA), is not available. Some cases in this category are withdrawn or abandoned, and a proportion is reconsidered for a variety of reasons after the appeal has been lodged with Immigration and Nationality Directory (IND). The reconsideration may result in the case not being sent to the IAA if it leads to a change in the appellant's immigration status. If in due course we find that there are a significant number of such cases, we shall consider what is the best way to publish this information once we are satisfied that it is reliable.


A-Level Reforms

Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action she proposes to take following the Qualification and Curriculum Authority's initial report on the implementation of the A-level reforms. [3533]

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Estelle Morris: Today I issued a response to the QCA's report on Curriculum 2000. That response has been placed in the Library, together with a copy of the report. The response notes that there is strong and continuing support in schools and colleges for the principles of Curriculum 2000, but also an urgent need to resolve issues in the delivery of parts of the programme, particularly the advanced subsidiary qualification. I am therefore asking the QCA to develop a combined examination paper of up to three hours for each AS where possible by summer 2002, as an alternative to the large number of individual unit papers currently offered. Where this is not possible, I am asking the QCA and the awarding bodies to look urgently at restructuring the timetable so that units of the same subject can be taken at a single sitting. Single, flexible units will remain available for those that want them. I am also asking the QCA to review specifications of subjects which are considered too heavy, to issue guidance to schools and colleges to highlight the existing flexibilities within the assessment regime, and to encourage the majority of students to take AS examinations either at the end of the first year of study or together with the examinations they take at the end of the second year. I am also asking the QCA to work with the awarding bodies to avoid as far as possible subject clashes in the examination timetable.

The Government remain convinced of the need for all young people, whether in employment or training post-16, to be given a solid basis in the key skills of communication, application of number and IT. To ensure they are practicable for the majority of students, I am asking the QCA to take steps to reduce the volume of assessment, ensure that a greater range of proxy qualifications are accepted, and issue guidance to schools and colleges to support effective use of key skills. I am also asking the Learning and Skills Council to review urgently the funding arrangements for key skills.


Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action she is taking in conjunction with higher education institutions to improve the recruitment and retention of lecturers. [3186]

Margaret Hodge: The recruitment and retention of staff is a matter for higher education institutions. However, the Government are providing £50 million in 2001–02, rising to £110 million in 2002–03 and £170 million in 2003–04, to support increases in academic and non-academic pay. This will give higher education employers more flexibility to address recruitment and retention difficulties and modernise their reward systems.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what arrangements will be put in place for maintaining the value of the teaching pay initiative to further education lecturers after its expiry. [3191]

Margaret Hodge: This is a matter for future spending reviews. We have no plans to suspend the teaching pay initiative after 2003–04.

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Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average starting pay for college lecturers was in each of the last 10 years. [2991]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 9 July 2001]: Figures available are derived from the FE lecturer pension scheme. The last available figures are for 1999. Details have been given for the period 1991–99.

Average starting salary of full-time FE lecturers 1991–99, England and Wales


(10) Including sixth-form colleges.

(11) Excluding sixth-form colleges.


Sixth-form colleges excluded before 1993 because they were not part of the FE sector. Included as part of the FE sector from 1994 onwards.

Competitiveness Indicators

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will publish the indicators of the competitiveness of British higher education institutions which she uses to compare them with their overseas counterparts. [3187]

Margaret Hodge: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) publishes international educational comparisons each year in "Education at a Glance". The 2001 edition, recently published, shows that UK higher education is characterised by high graduation rates and low non-completion rates, indicating the high quality of teaching and research and the efficiency and effectiveness of courses. This is reflected in the relative popularity of UK higher education courses among overseas students.

Learning and Skills Councils

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations she has received on the proposed withdrawal of funding for (a) education and (b) training programmes by local learning and skills councils. [3185]

Margaret Hodge: We have received very few representations about withdrawal of funding for programmes by the Learning and Skills Council. We have received a number of representations about the LSC's new funding arrangements for work-based learning for young people. On the whole, these changes have been well received, but inevitably there will be some concerns when funding rates change. To help meet these concerns the Learning and Skills Council has put in place effective transitional arrangements that cushion the reductions in income levels of providers compared with 1999–2000.

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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what arrangements she has made to transfer teaching pay initiative moneys direct from local learning and skills councils through colleges to individual teachers. [3189]

Margaret Hodge: All colleges received provisional allocations of funding in April 2001 from the Learning and Skills Council for the teaching pay initiative in 2001–02. Indicative amounts for 2002–03 and 2003–04 were issued to general FE colleges on 10 July 2001. While discussions on implementation are continuing with sixth-form colleges, the onus has been on all other colleges to come forward with a brief summary of their pay initiative implementation. LSCs cannot release the money without this and so far less than 10 per cent. of colleges have responded. Detailed arrangements for making payments to individual teachers will be implemented locally by individual colleges.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has for learner representation on learning and skills councils. [3367]

Margaret Hodge: We recognise that to be successful, the Learning and Skills Council must be fully responsive to the needs of learners and potential learners. The LSC's national council and each of the 47 local LSCs include, for example, trade unionists and local authority elected members, who can represent the views and needs of learners.

In addition, learning partnerships are already charged with ensuring that consultative mechanisms are in place to capture and articulate the views and opinions of young and adult learners, and feed these back to the LSC.

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The LSC itself is also considering what further mechanisms it needs to put in place at national and local levels to ensure that learners are effectively engaged in the new arrangements, and to advise on people's learning needs and expectations.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has for greater integration between the Learning and Skills Council and the higher education funding councils; and if she will make a statement. [3366]

Margaret Hodge: The Learning and Skills Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England are already building close co-operation to widen access to higher education and to meet employers' skill needs. The two chief executives meet regularly and attend each other's council meetings as observers. The local arms of the LSC are partners with HEFCE in delivering the excellence challenge which helps able young people in deprived areas enter higher education. In addition, we welcome the contribution of representatives from the higher education sector on the LSC's national council and on 35 of its 47 local councils. The Government will encourage further joint working between the LSC and HEFCE to achieve their shared objectives.

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