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Grammar Schools

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what information she collates on the proportion of pupils of ethnic minority heritage selected to attend grammar schools in (a) Kent, (b) Buckinghamshire, (c) Bexley, (d) Wiltshire, (e) Torbay, (f) Lancashire and (g) Birmingham, compared with the proportions of those groups in the appropriate age cohort. [67188]

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 5 July 2002]: The available information is collected through the Annual Schools' Census and records the ethnic background of pupils of compulsory school age and above in schools in England in January each year. The ethnic background of pupils in all maintained secondary schools is provided in the table as a proxy for the proportions in the general population.

Percentage of pupils of ethnic minority heritage in grammar schools and all maintained secondary schools
January 2001

Grammar schools
Number of schools481333432
Percentage of pupils classified as:
'White' minority ethnic origin(33)
'Other' minority ethnic origin(33),(34)10.843.922.
All maintained secondary schools
Number of schools16773410589834
Percentage of pupils classified as:
'White' minority ethnic origin(33)89.456.479.796.593.398.698.4
'Other' minority ethnic origin(33),(34)10.643.620.

(33) Expressed as a percentage of total pupils for which an ethnic origin has been reported.

(34) Includes pupils of Black Heritage, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese ethnic groups and any other minority ethnic group.


Annual Schools Census

School Playing Fields

Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her Department's policy is on the sale of school playing fields. [67227]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department has a presumption against the need to change the current pattern of playing field provision at schools. We are committed to funding schools and local education authorities so they are no longer forced to sell school playing fields to pay for school repairs. We have provided over £7 billion over the last five years for capital investment in schools and are making £6.5 billion available over the next two years for investment in school buildings.

Before October 1998, there was nothing to prevent a local authority selling a school playing field if it wanted to. To protect school playing fields from such indiscriminate disposal, we introduced legislation on 1 October 1998 that requires local authorities to obtain the Secretary of State's consent before they can dispose, or change the use, of any school playing field or any part of a school playing field that has been used by schools in the last ten years.

Applications to dispose, or change the use, of school playing fields are assessed against the following criteria:

Only those applications that meet the criteria are approved. All applications made since July 2001 have been scrutinised by the independent School Playing Fields Advisory Panel to make sure that they conform to the published criteria. The panel comprises representatives from the National Playing Fields Association, the Central Council of Physical Recreation, the education organisation Learning through Landscapes, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Local Government Association.

School Sponsorship

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when the rules governing school sponsorship were last reviewed. [67338]

Mr. Miliband: The rules governing specialist school sponsorship were last reviewed in May this year. As a result, we made one significant change to the criteria by reducing the amount of sponsorship required by small mainstream schools (defined as those with under 500 pupils on roll) to £100 per pupil, subject to a minimum of £20,000, rising to £50,000 for a school with 500 pupils.

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Specialist Schools

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills for what reason schools cannot count funds raised by the school in their bids for specialist school status. [67477]

Mr. Miliband: The guiding principles governing the eligibility of specialist school sponsorship are that it must be raised for the purpose of the application and be from a private sector source. Sponsorship from privately sourced school foundations and from parent teacher associations is acceptable. Where the school raises money by use of a public asset, such as the school's own premises, the funds are not eligible.

School Safety Surfaces

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the advice on impact absorbing surfaces contained in Building Bulletin 85 on school premises; if she will make a statement on the extent to which reprocessed scrap tyres have been used for safety surfaces in schools; and what plans she has to increase such use. [67681]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department for Education and Skills does not have the statistics required to make an assessment of reprocessed scrap tyre usage in schools. It is for the individual local authorities and school governors to apply the guidance on good practice in the way they consider most appropriate. The DfES has no plans to recommend an increase in the use of reprocessed scrap tyres in the future.

School Building Repairs

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what measures are being taken to ensure that the additional funds provided to local education authorities secure a significant reduction in the backlog on school building repairs identified in the 2001 Asset Management Plan; [67807]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The great bulk of capital funding for schools is now allocated by formula to schools and local education authorities for them to address the investment priorities of their school buildings. These priorities are decided locally in the context of each authority's Asset Management Plan. The Department appraises each plan to ensure that prioritisation is done in an open, rigorous and consultative process, based on a full survey of the building needs of all the schools in the authority, and reflecting Government priorities. This process increases the amount and quality of local decision making and reduces the bureaucratic burden of bid based and hypothecated funding.

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While we wish to see the backlog of repairs eliminated, and provided £1.3 billion of New Deal for Schools capital grant funded from the windfall tax from 1998 until 2001 directly to address the most urgent needs, we also wish to move away from the patch and mend approach of the past to a strategic modernisation of our schools. Subsequent capital funding, such as the £6.5 billion being made available over the two years to 2003–04, is intended both to address repair needs and to take forward the modernisation of schools for the teaching and learning needs of the 21st century. Progress on each of these objectives will depend on the balance of local priorities in each local authority between repairs and modernisation needs.

To reduce the bureaucratic burden, the Department does not require detailed information on how formulaic capital funding is invested. We do, however, have more detailed information on how capital funding is used from bid based programmes, including the New Deal for Schools from the windfall tax, the Private Finance Initiative and the Targeted Capital Fund, as well as investment in schools in the voluntary aided sector. Asset Management Plan returns provide periodic information on needs and, from this year, also on major capital projects in each authority. We have recently conducted a sample survey of the use of major formulaic programmes, and are considering how this information could be extended with minimum bureaucracy to provide evidence from which a national picture can be extrapolated.

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