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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the costs and benefits of using private finance initiatives to improve and upgrade the school buildings in each local education authority in England; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey [holding answer 23 January 2002]: Local education authorities (LEAs) are responsible for the local strategic management of the school estate. This responsibility includes the need to ensure best value when making investment decisions. When considering major investment in school buildings, one of the options that authorities should consider is the private finance initiative. Where an LEA decides, following an options appraisal, that it wishes to pursue the use of PFI, it will submit an outline proposal to my Department. If, following evaluation against published criteria, provisional support is received to develop an outline business case, the
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authority must demonstrate that PFI represents a better value for money solution than a conventionally procured alternative.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many local education authorities have put in place private finance initiative capital projects since May 1997; if she will list each such local education authority and the size of each capital project; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey [holding answer 23 January 2002]: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the list of current projects, regularly published by my Department, via the Teachernet website at www.teachernet.gov.uk/ schoolsprivatefinanceinitiative. This provides details of the numbers and PFI credit allocations for private finance initiative capital projects undertaken by local education authorities.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her policy is on encouraging local education authorities to use PFI contracts to upgrade school buildings; and if she will make a statement. 
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John Healey [holding answer 23 January 2002]: The use of PFI contracts to upgrade school buildings is one of a number of funding options available to local education authorities. If an authority wishes to develop a PFI project, it must first make preliminary proposals to the Department, which are assessed against published criteria. Although the Department currently allocates each year around £850 million PFI credits, we are not able to support all of the proposals put forward. The proposals which best match the published criteria receive provisional support at this stage.
Projects are not formally approved until a full Outline Business Case (OBC) has been submitted to the Treasury-chaired Project Review Group. This OBC must include a public sector comparator (PSC). It is a condition of approval that the proposed PFI solution must
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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many specialist schools are exercising the provision in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to select up to 10 per cent. of pupils by aptitude in relevant subjects; if she will list such schools; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 23 January 2002]: On the basis of the latest collated information, 25 specialist schools are selecting a proportion of their pupils by aptitude in the relevant subjects. Details are given in the following table. Most of these schools were selecting by aptitude prior to the 1998 Act.
|School||LEA||Specialism||School's status||Percentage of pupils selected on aptitude|
|Archbishop Blanch School||Liverpool||Technology||Voluntary Aided||5.6|
|Archbishop Temple School||Lancashire||Technology||Voluntary Aided||10.0|
|Brentwood Ursuline Convent School||Essex||Arts||Voluntary Aided||10.0|
|Chaucer Technical School||Kent||Technology||Foundation||(10)100.0|
|Chestnut Grove School||Wandsworth||Arts||Community||16.0|
|Deacon's School||Peterborough, City||Technology||Foundation||15.0|
|George Spencer GM School||Nottinghamshire||Technology||Foundation||10.0|
|Hockerill Anglo European School||Hertfordshire||Language||Foundation||10.0|
|Intake High School||Leeds||Arts||Community||10.0|
|Lodge Park School||Northamptonshire||Technology||Foundation||10.0|
|Lynn Grove VA High School||Norfolk||Technology||Voluntary Aided||15.0|
|Mill Hill County High School||Barnet, LB of||Technology||Foundation||10.0|
|Oldfield School||Bath and NE Somerset||Sports||Foundation||10.0|
|Philip Morant School||Essex||Technology||Foundation||15.0|
|Sandwich Technology School||Kent||Technology||Foundation||10.0|
|Small Heath School||Birmingham||Technology||Foundation||10.0|
|St. Margaret's C of E High School||Liverpool||Technology||Voluntary Aided||15.0|
|St. Martin's School||Essex||Technology||Foundation||10.0|
|St. Marylebone School (The)||Westminster||Arts||Voluntary Aided||10.0|
|Wye Valley School (The)||Buckinghamshire||Sports||Community||10.0|
(10) Up to
1. This information was taken from progress reports submitted by 403 schools in December 2000. Progress reports for schools operational as of September 2000 have been received but the information from these has not yet been collated.
2. The 1998 School Standards and Framework Act provides for schools with a specialism to select up to 10 per cent. of their intake on the basis of aptitude for a specialist subject prescribed in regulations. Prior to the 1998 Act schools had greater discretion over aptitude selection and this accounts for the percentages above 10 per cent.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assistance the Technology Colleges Trust is giving to schools seeking specialist status; how many grants have been facilitated by the trust in order to help schools to meet the £50,000 threshold of specialist status since 1997; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 23 January 2002]: The Technology Colleges Trust is an independent charitable trust grant-aided by the Department to advise schools in drawing up applications, and through its work in promoting the Specialist Schools Programme attracts sponsorship to support individual school's applications. Detailed information on grants facilitated by the Technology Colleges Trust is not readily available and can be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, we do have an analysis of applications for Arts, Technology and Language status in June and October 1999, and March 2000, which shows that of the 238 applications submitted 88 applicants included sponsorship facilitated through the Technology Colleges Trust.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what further research she has commissioned in order to evaluate the effects on school performance of specialist school status; and if she will make a statement. 
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Mr. Timms [holding answer 23 January 2002]: For Excellence in Cities (EiC) areas there is an element of work about specialist schools within the research about the impact of EiC policies being carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research. Research on the impact of specialist schools was commissioned by the then DfEE from Leeds university and the London school of economics and was published in 2000. Last October Ofsted published a report on the progress of specialist schools. Professor David Jesson will shortly be preparing an analysis of educational outcomes of specialist schools in 2001 on behalf of the Technology Colleges Trust and I expect this to be published in the spring.
Tessa Jowell: In the last 12 months, my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) and I made 121 public appointments and reappointments to public bodies as detailed. This does not include appointments to bodies sponsored by my Department where my role is to advise on appointments made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister or, through him, by Her Majesty the Queen.
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