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Asylum Seekers (Education)

Jonathan Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions she has had with Ministers in the Home Office on the proposals to remove refugee children from the application of sections 13 and 14 of the Education Act 1996; and if she will make a statement. [52102]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The proposal to remove children from the application of sections 13 and 14 of the Education Act 1996 applies only to the children of asylum seekers who will be educated in-house in accommodation centres. All other children, including refugees, will continue to be educated in schools maintained by local education authorities. This proposal has been prepared in close consultation with the Home Office.

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether accommodation centres which provide education for asylum seekers will have a statutory obligation to have an anti-bullying policy. [51662]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 23 April 2002]: There will not be a statutory obligation for accommodation centres which provide education for asylum seekers to have an anti-bullying policy. Matters such as anti-bullying and the discipline of the children attending the education provision in the accommodation centres may be provided in the agreement between the Home Secretary and the contractor. However, the education that will be provided for these children will mirror what they would get in schools.

School Discipline

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to increase the powers of teachers to deal with discipline in schools. [50923]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Following a public consultation, in March this year the Secretary of State announced plans to extend the availability of Parenting Orders to cover cases of non-criminal misbehaviour by pupils resulting in exclusions from school. We understand that the Home Office will issue a Criminal Justice White Paper in the late spring 2002 which will refer to the plans to extend Parenting Orders, probably by means of a Criminal Justice Bill in due course. Parenting Orders normally require parents to attend counselling or guidance sessions to help them cope better with their child's challenging behaviour and take more responsibility for that behaviour.

The Department has already made clear that when necessary Headteachers can permanently exclude pupils responsible for serious disruption, violence or a threat of violence. We recently consulted on a revision to part of Circular 10–99 'Social Inclusion: Pupil Support'. This stated that the Secretary of State would not normally

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expect to see pupils excluded permanently for persistent defiant behaviour—which includes bullying, violence or sexual misconduct—reinstated at appeal.


Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the future use of dyslexia teachers in schools; and if she will review the funding of dyslexia teaching. [50921]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: It is important that teachers are properly prepared for the range of special educational needs (SEN) they will encounter in schools. As part of their initial training, all student teachers must show that they understand their responsibilities under the SEN Code of Practice, and know how to seek advice. These skills are reinforced and developed during induction, when teachers have to demonstrate that they can plan effectively to meet the needs of pupils with SEN.

Opportunities for continuing professional development for teachers in post are supported under the training component of the SEN category of the Department's Standards Fund, which provides grant aid to local education authorities and schools. £91 million of supported expenditure is available for SEN in 2002–03. Training in dyslexia is specifically mentioned in the guidance for the category and this can range from awareness raising sessions to more in-depth specialist training. Grant support has also been made available to voluntary organisations and higher education training providers to create new training opportunities.

Responsibility for ensuring that appropriate provision exists for children with SEN rests with the school and LEA. More than £23 billion is available annually for the education of pupils, including children with SEN. Over £1 billion of this is used by LEAs to provide additional support for children with SEN, including transport. When allocating budgets to schools in 2001–02, LEAs also identified over £1.9 billion as allocated to SEN. However, it is for individual schools to decide how they spend this funding taking account of their statutory duties towards children with SEN.

Maintained Schools

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many maintained schools have outside toilet facilities. [52086]

John Healey [holding answer 23 April 2002]: The Department does not collect information on the number of toilet facilities in schools.

In 1998–99, the Department had a £35 million programme for the construction of internal toilet facilities so that it would be unnecessary for any children to have to use lavatories accessible only from outside. 450 projects were supported through the programme which should have addressed the issue, although it was down to individual Local Education Authorities to identify needs and apply for a grant. Also, many schools would have retained toilets adjacent to playing fields, and in some cases to serve temporary classrooms.

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School Terms

Valerie Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the powers of contractors are to fix school terms and holidays under the provisions of the Contracting Out (Local Education Authority Functions) (England) Order 2002. [52554]

Mr. Timms: Further to my comments during the Standing Committee's consideration of the draft Contracting Out (Local Education Authority Functions) (England) Order 2002 (official report of the Eighth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation, 5 March 2002, column 23) it would be possible under the Order for a contractor to determine the dates when school terms and holidays are to begin and to end. I should clarify that the contractor could, depending on the terms of the contract with an LEA, determine to move from a three term year to a different arrangement, where such decisions lie with the LEA. In the case of foundation, foundation special and voluntary-aided schools, responsibility lies with the governing body. We believe that LEAs will want to ensure that clear arrangements about such decisions are contained in any relevant contract. We would expect there to be wide consultation and, if any change is to be made, that ample notice would be given so that parents, teachers and others can plan accordingly.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what support has been given since 1997 to assist businesses in taking on apprentices. [51483]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government has contributed substantial financial support for Modern Apprenticeships (MAs), which provide craft, technological and business skills. Between 1997 and 2002 over £3.7 billion has been allocated to Government-supported work-based learning, of which it is estimated that in excess of £1 billion has been used to support MAs since 1997. As a result of this investment, the number of young people on MAs has risen from 75,000 in 1997 to over 220,000 today. We are investing an additional £180 million over three years 2001–04 to support and further develop MAs, a clear sign of the importance we attach to their role in raising skills levels in the workplace, and in offering young people high quality vocational and work-related options for post-16 learning. The Government and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) recently agreed a target of over a quarter of young people between the age of 16 and 21 entering MAs by 2004.

In addition to direct funding of MAs, we assist businesses in other ways. For example, the LSC has a major role in raising skills levels and is active in improving employers' awareness of MAs. National Training Organisations (NTOs) have played an important role in developing apprenticeship frameworks to meet employer needs in their sector and promoting entry by young people; new Sector Skills Councils, supported by the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) and the LSC, will provide an even stronger focus for employers to lead the development of apprenticeships linked to skills and productivity priorities and sector needs. Careers services and Connexions Partnerships work with young

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people to raise awareness of the apprenticeship route. The DTI small business service is also looking at ways to assist small businesses who want to employ MAs.


Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to her answer of 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 155W, if she will publish the guidelines she issues to support teachers regarding the teaching of creationism within the science curriculum; and if she will make a statement. [51925]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: There are no published guidelines for the teaching of creationism within the science curriculum.

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