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Mr. Timms: Officials have maintained regular contact with Oxfordshire local education authority over recent months. The LEA and schools are working hard to recruit the teachers they need and I am pleased to be able to report that schools in Oxfordshire are operating normally.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Since April 2001, 15 out of a total of 47 Connexions partnerships have commenced operation. The remaining partnerships will be phased in during 200203. Raising the levexls of participation and attainment of young people in education and training in conjunction with other partners is seen as a key objective of the new service and is reflected in the priorities and targets of all Connexions partnerships. The progress of partnerships towards meeting these key targets will form an important part of the performance review process in future years once relevant annual data covering participation and achievement become available from 2002 onwards.
Estelle Morris: The individual learning account (ILA) programme is to be withdrawn from 7 December in England. The programme has attracted over 2.5 million account holders and has been a great success in bringing down the financial barriers to learning. ILAs have opened up access for a great many people to a wide range of learning opportunities. However, the rapid growth of the scheme has exceeded all expectations, causing us to think again about how best to target public funds in this area and secure value for money. I also have concerns about the way in which some ILAs have been promoted and sold. There is growing evidence that some companies are abusing the scheme by offering low value, poor quality learning.
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Governors of every school on special measures and the LEA are required to produce an action plan setting out how they are addressing causes of failure. The effectiveness of a school's actions is monitored by OFSTED. My Department works with LEAs to challenge and support actions under way.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many ministerial decisions were made where authority for the same derived from the royal prerogative for the most recent calendar month for which information is available. 
Mr. Timms: We have two working groups, comprising local government and schools partners, developing proposals for a new LEA funding system. To ensure that we get the formula right, we have decided to implement reform in 200304 rather than 20023. This will allow us to see the impact of all the changes we will be making to local authority finance, not just those which affect education.
Margaret Hodge: Funding for school sixth forms in Northumberland this year is provided by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions. The Learning and Skills Council provides funding for further education and work-based training. From April 2002 responsibility for funding school sixth forms will transfer to the Learning and Skills Council. Funds will continue to reach schools via the Local Education Authority.
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John Healey: There has been a substantial rise in primary school standards following the introduction of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies. Since 1998, there has been a 10 per cent. point improvement to 75 per cent. in the number of pupils achieving the expected standard for their age in the Key Stage 2 English tests and a 12 per cent. point improvement to 71 per cent. in maths. We remain committed to raising standards further and achieving the challenging targets we have set.
Mr. Timms: My right hon. Friend has not taken part in any meetings with Ofsted about school discipline in Somerset. However, we do meet Ofsted colleagues regularly, and standards of discipline in a particular local education authority will be discussed if an inspection of that authority shows that standards are poor.
John Healey: The Department for Education and Skills funds both the Aiding Communication in Education (ACE) Centre North and the Aiding Communication in Education Centre Advisory Trust through the British Education Communications and Technology Agency (Becta).
We are currently working with the ACE Centre North to support its transition to charitable status. We will continue to support the valuable work of these centres in providing services for children and young people who use communication aids.
Estelle Morris [holding answer 19 October 2001]: The amount of gross domestic product spent on education between 1992 and 1997 fell from 5.1 per cent. to 4.6 per cent. Between 1998 and 2002 it will have risen from 4.5 per cent. to 5.0 per cent. This translates to a cash increase of almost £11 billion. It is estimated to rise to 5.3 per cent. by 200304, which means the Government will have kept their manifesto promise to increase the proportion of national income spent on education in this Parliament.
(2) Forecast figures
Tables 1.2 and 3.4 of "Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses, 200102" and prior equivalents
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Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will announce the results of the recent consultation on proposals to place union learning representatives on a statutory footing. 
John Healey: I am pleased to announce today the results of the consultation. There were 89 responses and the majority of respondents agreed strongly with the proposals in the consultation document that learning representatives should qualify as such if elected or appointed according to the rules of the union and that they should undergo training within a specified period. There was much general support for the production of a Code of Practice to help with the implementation of the practical implications of the proposals. This will include guidance on reasonable time off and the use of facilities. We will introduce legislation on this at the earliest opportunity.
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