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Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress is being made in ensuring a nursery place is available for every three and four-year-old whose parents require it. 
Mr. Timms: Since September 1998 all four-year-olds have been able to access a free, part-time early education place.
Around 62 per cent. of all three-year-olds currently have access to a free, part-time, early education place. We expect this to rise to 66 per cent. by March 2002, with every three-year-old, whose parents want one, entitled to a place by September 2004.
Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of requests for ill health early retirement under the Teachers' Pensions Regulations were agreed on application in each of the last three years; and what percentage of appeals against refusal were successful over the same period. 
Mr. Timms: Applications for ill health benefits are considered on the medical evidence provided in support of the application. There is no time limit on appeals and they are often therefore associated with the submission
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of further medical evidence. The percentages of all recommendations leading to acceptance in the last three years are:
|April 1998-March 1999||79|
|April 1999-March 2000||78|
|April 2000-March 2001||75|
Separate figures for appeals are only available from 200001. Of the 47 per cent. of teachers who appealed against the rejection of their application, 65 per cent. were ultimately awarded ill-health retirement benefits.
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to her answer of 26 October 2001, Official Report, column 468W, on asset management plans, when in November the results will be published. 
Mr. Timms: The Department will be publishing the information at the end of November.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the achievements of pupils of comparable ability in areas of (a) selective secondary education and (b) comprehensive secondary education. 
Mr. Timms: GCSE results (based on grades and average point scores) for 15-year-olds in grammar schools are, broadly speaking, similar to the top 25 per cent. in comprehensive schools. 25 per cent. reflects the proportion of pupils typically admitted by grammar schools in fully selective LEAs.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) when she will invite applications from existing national training organisations to become trail-blazer sector skills councils; 
(3) what plans she has to issue provisional licences to trail-blazer sector skills councils. 
John Healey [holding answer 29 October 2001]: Trail-blazer sector skills councils will provide an early assessment of the impact of influential employer-led bodies in sectors with an employment base of economic or strategic significance. Up to six trail-blazers will be chosen to offer a mix of sectors with a range of different needs and experiences. The trail-blazers will be announced by mid December and will receive provisional licences. In addition to meeting the criteria for being licensed as a Sector Skills Council, trail-blazers will have the capacity to become operational in the spring of 2002.
I have written to the existing National Training Organisations and other sector based employer groups about expressing an interest in becoming a trail-blazer.
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When the proposed trail-blazer SSCs are approved, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills will issue licences on behalf of the UK lifelong learning Ministers.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will rank the top 30 local education authorities according to the percentage of day pupils eligible for free school dinners. 
Mr. Timms: The data requested on the percentage of day pupils eligible for free school dinners in England for January 2000 have been placed in the House of Commons Library. Data for January 2001 will be placed in the Library as soon as they are available.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of school children eligible for free school dinners attend schools in each region of England and Wales. 
Mr. Timms: Information on school meal arrangements for maintained nursery and primary, maintained secondary and special schools by local education authority area in England for January 2000 has been placed in the House of Commons Library. Data for January 2001 will be placed in the Library as soon as they are available.
For information on school meals in Wales, I refer my hon. Friend to the National Assembly for Wales.
Mr. Mudie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the contracts and their financial value awarded by (a) her Department and (b) the local education authorities to Capita. 
Mr. Timms: Any contracts between local education authorities and Capita are a matter between the parties concerned and not the Department.
The Department has contracts with Capita for the administration of the Teachers' Pension Scheme, individual learning accounts, implementation of the Connexions Card and provision of general management consultancy support.
The financial value of individual contracts between the Department and Capita is commercial in confidence.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will reconsider the criteria relating to the award of bursaries to higher education students so that students living in Excellence in Cities areas and attending further education colleges outside that location are not excluded from eligibility. 
Margaret Hodge: Eligibility for Opportunity Bursaries depends on whether a student is attending one of the schools or further education colleges covered by the Excellence Challenge programme. The programme is being piloted over the next three years in Excellence in Cities (EiC) Phase 1 and 2 areas and Education Action Zones (EAZ). Local EiC Partnerships and EAZ Forums
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have determined whether to include further education colleges located outside these areas within their Excellence Challenge plans.
There is £93 million available within the Access and Hardship Funds in 200102, over four times the amount provided in 199798. Higher education institutions are encouraged to use part of this money to provide bursaries for students who do not meet the criteria for an Opportunity Bursary.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what guidance she gives to teachers and head teachers to maintain political impartiality when controversial political subjects are discussed in school; 
Mr. Timms: The law guards against biased or unbalanced teaching. Teachers must take "reasonably practicable steps" to ensure that, where political or controversial issues are brought to pupils' attention, they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views (Section 407 of the Education Act 1996).
Practical advice on how to teach controversial issues has been sent to all schools (Citizenship at Key Stage 3 Teachers Guide). We trust the professionalism of teachers to work within the framework of the school's values in relation to their expressing political opinions in class.
There is no other legislation or guidance issued from the Department which covers the wearing of political badges by school staff. The head teacher of a school has day-to-day responsibility for the conduct of the school and of staff and we would expect them to take a common sense view when dealing with staff whose attire indicates a particular political view. Where it is the head teacher who is visibly demonstrating political allegiance, it would be for the governing body, which is ultimately responsible for the direction of the school, to intervene, again taking a common sense view and taking account of local circumstances.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much section 11 funding is allocated to each of the London borough authorities. 
Mr. Timms: The education element of the Home Office's Section 11 Grant scheme ceased on 31 March 1999. It was replaced with the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant, which is administered by my Department. For 200102 £153,914 is available nationally to improve attainment of minority ethnic pupils. The amounts allocated to London boroughs are set out in the table.
|LEA||Ethnic minority achievement grant|
|Corporation of London||107,415|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||1,202,577|
|Kensington and Chelsea||1,164,506|
All figures include both DfES grant and LEA contribution
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