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20. Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to ensure that learning and skills councils co-ordinate their activities with those of the regional development agencies. 
John Healey: The Learning and Skills Act 2000 requires that each of the 47 local learning and skills councils (LSCs) must, in preparing a plan for each financial year, have regard to the strategy of and consult any relevant regional development agency. The national council must consult any relevant regional development agency on whether such plans should be approved; and both national and local councils include a RDA nominee.
Local LSCs must have regard to RDA regional economic strategies and include in their plans a statement setting out how their learning and skills responsibilities will contribute to economic regeneration activities.
The Secretary of State, in her 200203 grant letter to the LSC, also asked that the council work closely with key partners in each region, including Government offices and RDAs, to help produce frameworks for regional employment and skills action. These frameworks will ensure a coherent approach to employment, skills and economic development.
Mr. Timms: Derbyshire county council and a number of the schools which it maintains have made representations to the Department on this subject. A letter issued by the Department on 18 February 2002 to all local education authorities set out guidance on the treatment of allocations from the Learning and Skills Council for sixth forms in schools, so as to ensure a minimum gain for schools with allocations above their real-terms guarantee level.
Mr. Timms: In 200102 we established a new recruitment and retention fund of £33 million targeted on local education authorities, to pass to schools in areas of greatest difficulty. The feedback we have received has been positive and we have made a further £44 million available in 200203. In addition, the Teacher Training
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Agency fund recruitment strategy managers in 97 LEAs to help provide a co-ordinated local approach to vacancy filling.
23. Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students have enrolled for teacher training in the last three years; and how many teacher trained graduates remained in the profession for a year or more in each of the last three years. 
1. Includes universities and other higher education institutions, school-centred initial teacher training and the Open University. Does not include trainees employed in schools under the graduate and registered teacher programmes.
2. Recruitment figures include forecast registrations ITT providers expect later in the academic year.
3. 200102 recruitment figures exclude the 110 entrants on the fast-track teaching route, attending ITT as part of the programme.
4. Recruitment figures for 200102 are provisional and are subject to change.
Teacher Training Agency initial teacher training trainee numbers census
24. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made to ensure that pupils receive a minimum two hours physical education per week within the curriculum. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The White Paper: "Schools: achieving success" sets out our commitment to physical education and school sport. We have pledged that all children will be entitled to two hours of high quality PE and school sport a week, within and beyond the curriculum.
To help deliver this, we have a School Sport Co-ordinator programme494 co-ordinators are already in place and are working to increase the quality and quantity of after school sport and inter-school competition and to enhance links between local schools and their communities.
£130 million has been committed to rebuild primary school sport and arts facilities through the Space for Sports and Arts programme. A further £541 million from the New Opportunities Fund will be used to improve both primary and secondary schools sports facilities in every local education authority.
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Mr. Ivan Lewis: The National Curriculum is gender-free, requiring equality of opportunity for girls and boys between the ages of five and 16. Pupils study an equal balance of biology, physics and chemistry together with aspects of earth science and astronomy. Results in primary science are excellent; in 2001, 87 per cent. of pupils achieved level 4, the standard expected for their age, or above, a 25 per cent. increase since 1996. Building on the achievements at primary level, we are piloting a science strategy designed to raise standards for all 11 to 14-year-olds and a national programme will be introduced in all schools in September. In recognition of its importance in preparing young people for adult and working life, we are proposing the retention of science as a core subject for 14 to 16-year-olds in our consultation document: "1419 extending opportunities, raising standards".
In January, we launched the science and engineering ambassadors scheme as part of Science Year. One of its main purposes is to encourage both boys and girls to continue their study of science beyond the age of 16.
John Healey: There will be a replacement ILA-style scheme building on the strengths of the ILA and taking into account the findings of the current stakeholder consultation exercise which are due in early April. We will announce our plans in due course.
Margaret Hodge: The Department's policy is to strengthen research excellence and support world-class research. The Higher Education Funding Council for England implements this policy by providing funding selectively to higher education institutions, taking into account the quality of their research in each subject as measured by the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The purpose of the RAE is to distribute funding, not to determine the amount of funding that should be made available. However, in the light of the improvement in quality shown in the 2001 RAE, my Department has made available an extra £30 million in 200203 to allow the Higher Education Funding Council for England better to support high quality research in higher education. Future research funding is being considered as part of the current spending review.
Mr. Timms: We are currently working up proposals for a reformed system of school and LEA funding for introduction in 200304. We are taking a fresh and objective look at what provision is needed for area costs in education and have no presumptions that current
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Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many staff left the service of her Department and its agencies in the year ended 31 March 2001; how many left before attaining the formal retirement age of 60 years; and in respect of how many her Department and its agencies assumed responsibilities for making payments until retirement age. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: For information on staff that have left the Department during the year ended 31 March 2001, and on how many left before the age of 60, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office today. This Department has assumed responsibility for making payments until retirement age for 143 staff who left the DfEE and its agencies in the year ended 31 March 2001.
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