Previous Section Index Home Page

Pupil Data

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills for what reason the Government are collecting the names and addresses of all children; and how this information will be used. [38482]

Mr. Timms: The Department is collecting the names of most children, but not the addresses of any. This January we introduced the "Pupil Level Annual Schools Census" (PLASC) for maintained schools in England. Schools provided a list of the pupils on their register together with each pupil's name, "unique pupil number" (UPN), home postcode (not full address), and other details such as ethnic group, special educational needs and eligibility for free school meals. This information will be combined with details of Key Stage assessment and examination results collected separately from schools, marking agencies and exam boards, and with future PLASC returns, to create statistical profiles of pupils. The Department has no interest in the identity of individual pupils as such. However pupil names (in addition to UPNs) are needed to ensure that all data relating to the same pupil are collated correctly, and therefore that the statistical profiles are accurate. Within the Department only technical staff directly engaged in the data collation process will have access to pupil names.

Analysis of these statistical profiles will provide major new information to help schools, LEAs, the Department and other educational agencies in the drive to raise standards. It will also enable groups of pupils (such as ethnic minorities) who may be under-achieving to be identified far more effectively so that programmes can be developed or improved to meet their needs. Home postcodes too will be used for statistical purposes only. The postcode mix of a school's pupils provides an indication of socio-economic background which can be taken into account (along with other factors) in comparing the performance of different schools and setting targets for improvement. Postcode information also enables neighbourhood analyses to be carried out.

Certain limited disclosures of PLASC data with pupil names may take place provided these comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and any other legislative requirements. For further details I refer the hon. Member to my answer on 28 January 2002, Official Report, columns 109–11W to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington).

Special Urgency Provisions

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how often the Department has applied the special urgency provisions in paragraph 22 of Circular

5 Mar 2002 : Column 238W

18/84 (Development by Government Departments) to a development by the Department; and if she will make a statement. [38707]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: My Department has not used the special urgency provisions in paragraph 22 Circular 18/84 (Development by Government Departments).

School Absence

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the (a) number and (b) percentage of half days missed each year was in (i) maintained primary schools, (ii) maintained secondary schools and (iii) all maintained schools in each year since 1997. [38807]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The information is as follows:

Half days missed (authorised and unauthorised absence) in maintained schools in England 1997–2001

Academic yearsNumber of half days missed (thousand)Percentage of half days missed
Primary schools
Secondary schools
Primary and secondary schools


Figures are based on maintained mainstream schools and exclude maintained special schools and City Technology colleges. Information is collected for the period from the start of the school year in September to the mid-term break in May.

In the second round of Education Development Plans (EDPs), local education authorities were asked to set targets for the percentage of half days missed each year. The targets have now been submitted and are currently being assessed.

Special Educational Needs (Autism)

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent on autistic education in each year since 1997 in (a) South Tyneside, (b) the north-east and (c) the UK. [39618]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Funding is not made available for specific categories of special educational need. Rather, funding is allocated and distributed via local education authorities (LEAs), who have a duty to provide appropriately for all children in their area. This includes the duty to identify children's individual special educational needs and to deliver the most appropriate provision to meet those needs.

5 Mar 2002 : Column 239W

More than £23 billion is available annually for the education of school children, including children with special educational needs. Over £1 billion of this is used by LEAs to provide additional support for children with special educational needs.

We have also made £91 million of supported expenditure available for special educational needs in next year's Standards Fund (2002–03). This is five times the amount available in 1997–98. The fund can be used for a range of activities including training for staff in special educational needs, improvements in speech and language therapy provision for children with communication difficulties and the greater inclusion of children with SEN in the mainstream. This latter includes early intervention for pupils with SEN, training on child development and behaviour management, and improved links between special and mainstream schools.

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action is being taken to promote Autism Awareness year. [39621]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Health gave to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) on 8 January 2002, Official Report, column 672–73W.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State welcomes initiatives that aim to improve our knowledge and understanding of autism and raise awareness of the condition. Better outcomes for children with autism are encouraged by early identification and intervention to meet their special educational needs. In 2002, the Department for Education and Skills will be publishing guidance for schools, local education authorities and others, which will include pointers to good practice on provision for children with autism, including early identification. The Department will continue to work with the National Autistic Society and other interested parties to raise awareness of autism and improve provision for children with the condition.

National Curriculum

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list those maintained schools which are known not to be offering the full national curriculum. [38859]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 28 February 2002]: For a school not to offer the full national curriculum, it must make an application to the Department for Education and Skills, to disapply elements of the national curriculum, under section 362 of the Education Act 1996. This is to allow curriculum development or experimentation.

The schools that are currently disapplying elements of the national curriculum, through section 362, according to departmental records, are shown in the following list:

5 Mar 2002 : Column 240W

Amy Gehring

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to the answer of 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 746W, on Amy Gehring, if she will make a statement on the content of that letter; and what action, and when, her Department took in response. [39414]

Mr. Timms: The letter received on 20 November 2000 from Surrey police contained factual information about allegations made against Miss Gehring and stated that no further police action would be taken. The letter did not express concern about the risk that Miss Gehring might present to children. After receiving the letter my officials initiated their List 99 procedures, making a criminal background check and writing to Timeplan seeking copies of all the documents relating to the case. On 8 January 2001 my officials were informed by Surrey police that Miss Gehring's conduct was the subject of a fresh police investigation. The officials then followed normal practice and suspended further inquiries until documents, witness statements and other evidence from the police investigation and trial became available.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to the answer of 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 746W, on Amy Gehring, on how many occasions in each of the past three years a police force has written to her Department to raise issues about a working teacher; and what action was taken in each case. [39415]

Mr. Timms: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The Department receives notification of misconduct from a number of sources including the police, a working teacher's employer and from press reports.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to the answer of 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 746W, on Amy Gehring, on what date the contents of the letter were communicated to Ministers. [39416]

Mr. Timms: Ministers were informed of the contents of the letter from Surrey police on 24 January 2002.

Next Section Index Home Page