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19 Nov 2002 : Column 56W—continued


Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what arrangements are in place to assist pupils/students with specific learning disabilities, with particular reference to dyslexia, when they are completing tests or examinations; and if he will make a statement. [80818]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: A wide range of special arrangements are in place to assist pupils with special educational needs, including those with specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, when they come to take tests and examinations.

The arrangements for dyslexic candidates taking public examinations are determined by the relevant awarding bodies. The most common arrangement permitted for such candidates is additional time in which to complete the examination. The use of readers, writers and word processors are also permitted in exceptional circumstances. Appropriate evidence must support each case, and the decision rests with the awarding body.

Special arrangements are also permitted in relation to the National Curriculum Assessment Key Stage tests. Details of these are set out in the XAssessment and Reporting Arrangements" booklets produced by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, sent to all schools in England in October of the year before the tests are due to be taken. When considering what special arrangements might be needed, the focus should always be on the needs of the individual child. Arrangements might range from additional time to the use of readers, amanuenses, transcripts, communicators, signers, and rest breaks.

Education Projects (Buckinghamshire)

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the projects to which his Department has allocated funding in (a) Chesham and Amersham and (b) Buckinghamshire since 1 January 1997, indicating the amount in each case. [81187]

Mr. Miliband: The following tables show the total amounts provided by the Department through the standards fund and capital programmes in the Chesham and Amersham constituency and Buckinghamshire local education authority since 1997–98. Chesham and Amersham figures are part of the Buckinghamshire figures.

It is not possible to give the standards fund allocations within the Chesham and Amersham constituency. The standards fund includes both Government grant and local authority contributions. Copies of tables giving a breakdown of the funding for these programmes have been placed in the House of Commons Library.

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Chesham and Amersham Constituency

YearVoluntary aided schools capitalNew deal for schools capital(3)

(3) Since 2000–01 capital support has been allocated to LEAs and schools on a formulaic basis. Buckinghamshire LEA will have details of funding going to individual schools.

Buckingham local education authority

YearStandards fundVoluntary aided schools capitalNew deal for schools capital

Higher Education Finance

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much his Department has paid to universities in each of the past two years as special payments arising from the normal residence of students being in specified postcode areas. [81820]

Margaret Hodge: The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) allocated #27 million in the 2001–02 academic year and #36 million in 2002–03 to higher education institutions in England in connection with the education of students from specified postcode areas.

IT Security

Brian White: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he has taken to review the security of the Department's IT system; and how many digital attacks there were on the Department's system in (a) October and (b) 2002. [80773]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department for Education and Skills has a dedicated team to assure that the Department's network and data are secure from attack. They have recently undertaken an exercise to achieve compliance with the Information Security Standard (BS7799) and all systems follow guidance outlined in the Central Government Manual of Protective Security.

There were no digital attacks reported in either October or the whole of 2002.

Local Government Funding

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many representations his Department has received from Eddisbury constituency residents about local government funding in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the arguments in those representations. [81265]

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Mr. Miliband: The Department has answered 88 letters in connection with the funding of schools in Cheshire over the last year. Six of these letters were from the hon. Member, but it is not possible to identify which Cheshire constituency the rest came from. In addition a number of Cheshire residents responded to the consultation on Local Government Funding reform which closed on 30 September: to identify precisely these letters from among the very large numbers of responses to the consultation would incur disproportionate cost.

We are carefully considering all responses to the consultation document and will publish an analysis by the time of the provisional settlement for 2003–04, when we will announce decisions on the new funding system.

Qualifications (Children in Care)

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent research his Department has conducted into the educational qualifications obtained by children in residential care compared to those of similar ages in the general population; and if he will make a statement. [80472]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The Department has recently conducted (or been involved in) extensive research into the educational qualifications of looked after children although these research projects have not looked exclusively at children in residential care homes. Available evidence suggests that children in residential care have much poorer outcomes than those in a stable foster care placement.

Figures on the educational achievements of care leavers are collected by the Department of Health. Full data is available on these achievements for 6,555 children who left care in the year ending March 2001. Of these just over a quarter (n=1,715) were in residential placements. Among this group, 22 per cent. achieved one or more GCSEs compared to 41 per cent. of those in other types of placements—Department of Health (2001).

The Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Health and the Local Government Association have commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to undertake research into the educational achievement at Key Stage 4 of children in public care. This research is exploring in greater depth the Key Stage 4 performance of a cohort of pupils who were in public care in summer 2001. This includes children in residential care homes.

The Department has also just commissioned NFER to conduct research to identify best practice among schools and LEAs in helping these children to fulfil their educational potential. The research will include children in residential care homes although they will not be a specific focus of the research. The Department has also been working closely with the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) on its project on raising the educational attainment of children in care. The SEU will report in early 2003.

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he intends to publish a Memorandum of Understanding on the relationship

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between his Department and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; and if he will make a statement. [81079]

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 18 November2002]: We will be preparing the Memorandum of Understanding in the light of the findings of Mike Tomlinson's report on longer term issues concerning examination standards and the role of QCA and the awarding bodies. We expect to receive this report at the end of November.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the Quinquennial Review of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; and if he will make a statement. [81080]

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 18 November 2002]: I welcome the Quinquennial Review report on QCA published in the summer. Since then new issues have arisen in the examination system, and a new chair and chief executive have been appointed at QCA. I look forward to receiving the authority's response to the report before the end of the year.

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