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Student Loans

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many individuals repaid student loans early in the last year for which figures are available. [19913]

Margaret Hodge: In the 2000–01 financial year, there were 1,600 borrowers with accounts paid off in full before liability for repayment had arisen. This figure does not include borrowers who have made accelerated repayments nor borrowers who have made repayments even though their obligation to repay has been deferred because their income has fallen below the repayment threshold.

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance is issued to the Student Loans Company Ltd. to enable individuals to make early repayments of a student loan. [19914]

Margaret Hodge: The Student Loans Company Ltd. (SLC) operates under the terms of a remit letter, which I send to it annually. This requires the company to administer the student loans schemes in line with the legislative framework.

Provisions for the early repayment of mortgage style loans are covered under schedule 2 of the Education (Student Loans) Regulations 1998, which state that the borrower can make early repayments at any time, and that he should ask the SLC for a written statement giving the exact amount owed. A borrower can repay all or any part of their income contingent student loans at any time under Education (Student Loans) Regulations 2000, regulation 11 (1). The Student Loans Company Ltd. makes arrangements directly with the borrower for the method of repayment.

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many individuals are repaying student loans in Wales. [19915]

Margaret Hodge: Information broken down by home country of domicile is not held centrally but we are asking the Student Loans Company Ltd. to write to my hon. Friend further on this.

Parliamentary Ombudsman

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2001, Official Report, column 926W, Ref. 18771, on the Parliamentary Ombudsman, on which date each of the five new statutory statements of complaint was received; and on which date the response was made. [20099]

Estelle Morris: Information on the outcome of the statutory investigations which were concluded during 2000–01 are set out in the Parliamentary Ombudsman's Annual Report for 2000–01, copies of which are available in the Library of the House, or on the Parliamentary Ombudsman's website at www.ombudsman.org.uk/pca/ document/par01/index.

Between 1 April 2001 and 31 October, my Department received five new statutory statements of complaint from the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Each was received and responded to as follows:




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Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2001, Official Report, column 926W, Ref 18771, on the Parliamentary Ombudsman, how many formal notices her Department received between 1 November 2000 and 31 March 2001; and in respect of each notice, how long it took to respond. [20100]

Estelle Morris: Information on the outcome of the statutory investigations which were concluded during 2000–01 are set out in the Parliamentary Ombudsman's Annual Report for 2000–01, copies of which are available in the Library of the House, or on the Parliamentary Ombudsman's website at www.ombudsman.org.uk/pca/ document/par01/index.

Between 1 November 2000 and 31 March 2001, my Department received six new statutory statements of complaint from the Parliamentary Ombudsman. My Department has responded to all six of these cases. The average time taken to respond overall is 21 days.

Teachers

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many full-time teachers have become supply teachers in the past three years. [20108]

Mr. Timms: This information is not collected centrally.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teacher vacancies there are in special schools. [20111]

Mr. Timms: In January 2001 there were 280 full-time teacher vacancies in maintained special schools in England.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teacher vacancies there were in Buckinghamshire in October (a) 1997 and (b) 2001. [20130]

Mr. Timms: The information is not available for the dates requested. Full-time teacher vacancies in maintained nursery, primary, secondary and special schools reported by the Buckinghamshire local authority were as follows:

As at JanuaryNumber
199835
200159

Correspondence

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she will reply to the letter to her dated 23 October from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. C. K. Abbass. [20365]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State replied yesterday to my right hon. Friend's letter of 23 October.

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Companies (Financial Assistance)

Denzil Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the companies listed by guarantee which received financial assistance from her Department in financial year 2000–01. [20422]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: This information can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Admissions Criteria

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if an appeal panel hearing an appeal against a primary school's decision not to admit a child to their school is entitled to alter that school's approved admissions criteria; and if she will make a statement. [20502]

Mr. Timms: No—an appeal panel cannot alter a school's general admission arrangements, including admissions criteria. Their role is to decide in individual cases whether the school should admit a child, having regard to the case presented by both the admission authority and the parents. The panel decides first whether one of the statutory grounds for refusing admission applies. But even if the panel decides that it was proper to refuse to admit the child, they proceed (except in the case of infant classes, to which special rules apply) to a second, discretionary stage of consideration. At this stage, they balance the effect on the school of admitting another child against the parents' reasons for wanting the child to be admitted.

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the grounds on which an appeal panel hearing an appeal against a primary school's decision not to admit a child to their school can overrule the school's decision, if the school has followed its approved admissions criteria; and if she will make a statement. [20503]

Mr. Timms: There are no grounds on which an appeal panel can overrule a primary school's decision not to admit a child to an infant class size because that would take the class size above 30, if the school has followed its published admission arrangements. The panel can uphold that infant class appeal only if the decision was not one which a reasonable admission authority would make in the circumstances of the case or the child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented.

For appeals other than for infant class size, the panel must weigh up the cases of the school and the parents. The effect on the school of admitting another child is balanced against the parents' reasons for wanting the child to be admitted. If the panel decides that the parents' case is the stronger, the school must admit the child.

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many appeals against decisions not to admit a pupil by primary schools in England and Wales were (a) heard and (b) granted by appeal panels in (i) 1998–99, (ii) 1999–2000 and (iii) 2000–01. [20504]

5 Dec 2001 : Column: 428W

Mr. Timms: The figures for primary schools in England are:


Figures for 2000–01 will not be available until summer 2002.

The National Assembly for Wales does not keep statistics on appeals lodged by parents against non- admission of their children to maintained schools.


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