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Mr. Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment has been made of the requirement for new (a) lower, (b) middle and (c) upper schools in the South-West Bedfordshire constituency to take account of anticipated house building in the area until 2011. 
Mr. Timms: The Government believe that decisions concerning the organisation and supply of school places are best taken locallyby the main partners in the provision of education who have knowledge of local needs. It is the responsibility of local education authorities (LEAs) to ensure that there are sufficient school places within their area.
Should a district council propose new housing developments we would expect the LEA's School Organisation Plan (SOP) to reflect any projected increases in the pupil population. All LEAs are required to produce a SOP, which sets out how they propose to deal with deficits and surpluses of school provision over a rolling 5-year period. The SOP sets the context for proposals to change school organisation in the area, and may include proposals to establish new schools or enlarge existing ones.
If, as a result of housing developments, the LEA identifies a need for additional school places, we would consider any future capital bids from Bedfordshire that meet the published criteria for support.
|Number of pupils||Percentage of pupils|
|South-West Bedfordshire Parliamentary Constituency Maintained nursery and primary schools||813||11.4|
|Maintained secondary schools||855||9.1|
|England Maintained nursery and primary schools||821,521||18.3|
|Maintained secondary schools||523,630||16.5|
Mr. Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the class sizes for (a) lower, (b) middle and (c) upper schools were in Bedfordshire on 1 May; and what they are projected to be on 1 May 2002. 
19 Jul 2001 : Column: 407W
|Schools||Average class size|
|Middle deemed Secondary schools||26.2|
|Comprehensive Upper schools||19.4|
Mr. Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to ensure that all documents that school governing bodies are required to consider are written in plain English. 
Mr. Timms: All documents sent to governing bodies by the DfES, and the former DfEE, either bear the 'Crystal Mark' awarded by the Plain English Commission, or are produced to communication standards based on plain English principles. The Department has no direct control over the many communications for school governors prepared by local education authorities but has urged them to adopt the same principles and to keep such communications to a minimum.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of young people left local authority care with one or more GCSE at grade A* to G for the year for which she has the most recent data. 
The most recent data were published by the Department of Health on 26 October 2000. These show that 29 per cent. of young people leaving local authority care at age 16 or more during year ending 31 March 2000 achieved at least one GCSE at grade A* to G.
Mr. Timms: 0.7 per cent. of half days were missed in English schools in 19992000 as a result of unauthorised absence. Pupil absence data for England are collected by school year, and are published during the following autumn term by DfES in the National Pupil Absence Tables and in School Performance Tables. Figures for the school year 200001 are therefore not available yet.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will take into account the concerns of teachers about the proposed clause 5 of the professional code of conduct of teachers, drafted by the General Teaching Council, on the grounds of religious conscience. 
19 Jul 2001 : Column: 408W
Mr. Timms: The professional code of practice is a matter for the General Teaching Council (GTC). Paragraph 5 relates to the way teachers support children in their care, by providing an environment of tolerance and respect that allows all children to flourish irrespective of their home circumstances. Children come from diverse backgrounds and it is important that teachers protect them from antisocial behaviour such as name calling or bullying. The GTC has published its current draft widely, sending it to all registered teachers and their responses, including those relating to paragraph 5, will be considered by the GTC's Council in due course.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance has been issued on the circumstances in which it is appropriate for a local education authority exclusion officer to overrule a school over a decision to exclude. 
Mr. Timms: A local education exclusion officer has no powers to overrule an exclusion, whatever the circumstances. The officer's role is to give advice on the appropriateness of the exclusion. The LEA can make a statement to the school's Discipline Committee considering whether or not to uphold an exclusion, for example about how other schools in the authority have responded to similar incidents.
Mr. Timms: Our commitment is to provide every three-year-old, whose parents want one, with a free nursery education place by September 2004. In March 2001, around 55 per cent. of three-year-olds in England had access to a free part-time nursery education place. We are currently on target to provide 66 per cent. of all three-year-olds with a free place by March 2002.
Staffordshire local education authority estimates that around 35 per cent. of three-year-olds have access to a free nursery education place in their area. The access to free nursery education is influenced by the level of provision that the local authority makes available in its own area, as well as the places funded directly by Government. The allocation made by Government, through the Nursery Education Grant, is made on the basis of social disadvantage.
Mr. Timms: Early Years Development and Child Care Partnerships have only provided details of the new child care places that have opened by constituency since April 1999. Between April 1999 and March 2001 Warrington Early Years Development and Child Care Partnership has reported the creation of 188 daycare places 1 in the constituency of Warrington, North.
19 Jul 2001 : Column: 409W
Mr. Timms: Early Years Development and Child Care Partnerships have provided details only of the new child care places that have opened by constituency since April 1999. Between April 1999 and March 2001 Warrington Early Years Development and Child Care Partnership has reported the creation of 337 new out of school hours places 1 in Warrington, North.
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