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7 Nov 2002 : Column 715Wcontinued
Dr. Vincent Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the web site links associated with her Department, including sites now dormant or closed, and indicating whether they are live, dormant or closed; what the start up costs were for each site listed; what the operating costs were in each year since start up for each site; which company hosted each site; what assessment takes place for each site; which company does the assessment; if she will place the assessment reports in the Library; and if she will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: In addition to its overall strategic functions, Defra has a range of specialist responsibilities in the fields of environment, food, animal welfare, agriculture and rural policy. Website links therefore range from small or specialist sites established by the Department (or its predecessors) and its agencies and NDPBs for specific purposes to DEFRA's own main website and those of its agencies and NDPBs. We are also checking whether joint sites have been established with other organisations by operational units within Defra or within its agencies and NDPBs.
Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 15 October 2002]: We are committed to raising the educational standards of all children, including those who are in care, in order to build a fair and inclusive society. In May 2000 we issued comprehensive Guidance on the Education of Children and Young People in Care to help local authorities, in their role as corporate parents to raise the educational attainment of children and young people in public care and to bring them closer in line with those of their peers. The Department seeks through it's policies to help LEAs work towards achieving the PSA target set by the Department of Health that, by 2004, 15 per cent. of children leaving care at age 16 or over shall have achieved at least 5 GCCEs at grade A*-C.
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Currently, a team of advisors work with ten networks of Lead Officers for Children in Public Care across the country.
The Implementation Team is also gathering examples of best practice to help inform future work locally and nationally. Examples of best practice will shortly be disseminated through the upgraded Education Protects DfES website.
We are currently consulting on a revised School Admissions Code of Practice that will require all admission authorities in their over subscription criteria, to give top priority to looked after children, after children with statements of special educational needs.
For 200203 there is #10 million in the DfES Standards Fund to raise the achievement for children in public care and sick children. A new #20 million Capital Modernisation Fund scheme to increase access to information technology for children in and leaving care is available over the 2 financial years 200203 and 200304. The money is being distributed as part of the Department of Health's Quality Protects programme. This is on top of the overall budget of #885 million made available over 5 years for the Department of Health's children's services quality protects grant.
The Social Exclusion Unit are are currently undertaking a project looking into the educational achievement of children in public care. We will be considering any recommendations made when their report is published. This is currently expected to be in December 2002.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, what preparations she has made to ensure the safety and continuity of service to the public in the event of a firefighters' strike; and what the cost is to the Department of these actions. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: My Department has set up an Incident Team representing all policy and services directorates led by a senior Board member. The Team is liaising closely with central Government to keep abreast of updates on the situation outlined by my right hon. Friend, the Ministery for Local Government and the Regions in his answer to this question of the 28 October 2002 Official Report, column 527W. Briefing has been circulated to all Local Education Authorities, colleges and universities. Further communications will be sent as appropriate. Risk Assessments have also been carried out on departmental premises and specific measures introduced to safeguard peoplewhich include large numbers of visitors as well as staffon strike days.
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Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, how ethnicity is measured by schools and local education authorities and what checks are carried out to ensure the accuracy of those figures. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: In January this year the Department issued to LEAs updated guidance on how schools should obtain and record pupils' ethnic group. This guidance was prompted in part by a new ethnic group classification introduced by the 2001 national Census of Population, which meant that all existing information had to be re-collected on this new basis. The main features of the guidance are:
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The new information will be collected by the Department for the first time in the Pupil Level Annual Schools Census (PLASC) taking place in January 2003. These data will be analysed closely to verify that they accord with the guidance. Any apparent gaps or anomalies will be taken up with the LEA concerned.
|Annual Budget (#m)||14.5||15.5||14.5||14.0||13.6||13.6||13.1||10.9|
To date, the Card has cost #18.9m.
Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 6 November 2002]: Only the Connexions Service has received information contained on the Connexions Card. No third party organisation or company has bought information contained on the Connexions Card.
Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, whether information held on individuals who have Connexions cards has been passed on to third parties (a) for no consideration and (b) for a consideration. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 6 November 2002]: Only the Connexions Service has been passed information held on individuals who have Connexions Cards and this is for no consideration. No information held on individuals who have a Connexions Card has been passed to a third party for a consideration.
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Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 6 November 2002]: The young person's name, date of birth and photo is shown on the Card and their name, date of birth and unique Connexions Card number are recorded on the chip.
In addition to the above information, each young person's record on the Connexions Card database holds details of the learning centre(s), attendance, points collected and redeemed, and rewards chosen.
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