Previous Section Index Home Page

14 Jan 2003 : Column 577W—continued

Schools (Departmental Documents)

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the documents issued between 1 January and 19 December by his Department to schools that deal with (a) discipline, (b) truancy, (c) bureaucracy and (d) teacher workload; and how many pages were in each document. [89298]

Mr. Miliband: The following documents issued between 1 January and 19 December to schools that deal with (a) discipline, (b) truancy, (c) bureaucracy and (d) teacher workload:

Schools' Budgets

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if it is his intention to use reserve powers under the Education Act 2002 to determine a minimum level of schools' budgets for the coming year. [90126]

Mr. Miliband: The Education Act 2002 requires local education authorities to notify the Secretary of State of their proposed schools budget by 31 January 2003. My right hon. Friend will decide in the light of the proposed budgets whether it is necessary to use the reserve power.

SSA Allocation (Newcastle)

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what SSA allocation the City of Newcastle received in (a) 2001–02, (b) 2002–03 and (c) 2003–04; and what was (i) the LEA spend and (ii) the size of the schools budget in (A) 2001–02 and (B) 2002–03. [89106]

14 Jan 2003 : Column 578W

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 9 January 2003]: The following table contains the information requested. The Department is in the process of collecting spend data for the 2001–02 financial year and I will write to my hon. friend when it is available. The Department is not due to collect data for 2002–03 until September 2003.

# million

Financial YearSSABudget
2003–04126.74 (provisional)


The SSA figure for 2003–04 is provisional and not comparable with 2002–03. The figures for 2002–03 and 2003–04 exclude provision transferred to the LSC from 2002–03. The figure for 2003–04 includes grant and pension funding transferred into EFS in 2003–04.

In 2003–04 Newcastle's Education Formula Spending Share rose by 6 per cent. per pupil or 5.7 per cent. in cash terms. The overall cash increase does not compare with last year's Education SSA because of the transfers mentioned above.

The education budgets for 2001–02 and 2002–03 are derived from Newcastle's S52 Budget Statements for those years—as submitted to the Department.

Statutory Instruments

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many statutory instruments have been issued by his Department in each calendar year since 1979. [89838]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The number of statutory instruments issued by my Department, and its predecessor Departments, since 1979 is as follows:

YearNumber of statutory instruments issued

14 Jan 2003 : Column 579W

Teaching Regulations

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make it a policy of the Government to limit relevant employment under the Education (Teachers' Qualifications and Health Standards) (England) Regulations 1999 to teaching; and if he will make a statement. [90435]

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 13 January 2003]: Teachers and those who work with children and young persons, in effect, act in loco parents for those in their charge, and they require a high standard of physical and mental fitness to undertake the demands involved. The provisions of the Education (Teachers' Qualifications and Health Standards) (England) Regulations 1999 ensure that such workers are fit for the job, and are essential in adding to the safeguards aimed at protecting the health, welfare and education of children.

It is vital that people who work on a regular basis with children and young persons (for example, home tutors, support staff, and welfare officers) are fit to do so. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to limit this requirement to teachers.

Visual Needs

Jonathan Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what recent programmes have been initiated by his Department to (a) promote early detection of specific ophthalmic conditions in children and (b) monitor their visual development; and what evaluation has been carried out as to the benefits of such programmes; [88369]

14 Jan 2003 : Column 580W

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has provided #1 million to support an Early Support Pilot Programme, which is a pan-disability national initiative aimed at identifying and developing good service provision for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities and their families. The Programme includes a number of projects looking at services for children with visual impairment. It will support development in a number of areas, including: initial assessment of need; co-ordination/multi-agency support for families; better information and access for families; improved professional knowledge and skills; service review and development; and improved partnership across agencies and geographical boundaries.

The Programme is being evaluated by a team from the National Children's' Bureau on an ongoing basis. The evaluation will inform the future development of the Programme.

The Department of Health is responsible for the provision of eye checks undertaken by local primary health care teams in accordance with professional advice. The principal threats to eye health and impaired vision development should be detected at or before school age is reached and be identified during a visual screening on school entry. Consideration is currently being given to the introduction of a universal test for all children when they start school at four or five. Older children may develop myopia (short sight) which is usually recognised when they complain of difficulty seeing clearly at distance. Since the onset of myopia commonly occurs between the ages of nine and 16 it is not possible to identify optimum ages for screening. Children may Xpass" a routine screening examination only to find problems within the next few months. There is then a possibility that some children might not receive advice to attend an optometrist until after their next routine screening appointment. All children up to the age of 15 are entitled to a free sight test as are children aged 16–18 if they are in full-time education. Whenever parents or carers suspect that there is a problem with their child's sight they should take them to the optician's.

There are no plans to collect data on children in school, whose visual needs have not been diagnosed. However, from January 2004 the DfES will be collecting data by type of SEN as part of the Pupil Level Annual Schools Census. Information will be collected on pupils with statements of special educational need and those receiving additional or different help to support their SEN—School Action and School Action Plus. One of the categories will be visual impairment and schools will be able to record it as either a primary need or a secondary need. It is hoped that this will provide more detailed data on pupils with a range of SEN, including visual impairment.

14 Jan 2003 : Column 581W

No assessment has been made of the impact of undetected sight problems on the educational attainment and inclusion of children in school. Nor has an assessment been made of current arrangements for eye health education in schools.

Students undertaking initial teacher training are required to understand their responsibilities under the DfES's SEN Code of Practice and to know where to go to seek advice. They are also required to be able to demonstrate that they can differentiate their teaching to meet the individual needs of pupils with SEN, including those with visual impairment.

Support for training and development in relation to SEN and disabilities is available to local education authorities (LEAs) and schools through the SEN component of the DfES's Standards Fund. The funding is designed to be used flexibly to support developmental opportunities ranging from basic awareness-raising to more in-depth studies, possibly leading to formal qualifications. It is for individual LEAs and schools to determine expenditure priorities according to local needs and circumstances, but it would certainly be possible to use the funding to support training for teachers in the area of visual impairment.

The SEN Code of Practice provides practical advice to LEAs, maintained schools and others on carrying out their statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for children's SEN, including for children with visual impairment. The Code aims to promote consistency of approach, but, within its guidelines, it is for individual schools and LEAs to determine appropriate intervention based on an assessment of each child's individual needs and circumstances.

It would be for schools and LEAs to decide whether it was appropriate to carry out a specific visual assessment, if it was thought that visual impairment was contributing to a child's other educational difficulties.

Next Section Index Home Page