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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers have been employed by his Department in each year from 199495 to 200203; and at what cost in each year. 
Mr. Charles Clarke: For the number of special advisers employed, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office on 31 January 2003, Official Report, column 1056W.
We are unable to provide information on the number of press officers employed by the Department in 199495 without incurring disproportionate costs. Information dating for 199697 to 199899 is available from
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appendix 10 of the Sixth Report from the Select Committee on Public Administration, entitled Government Information and Communication Service, published on 29 July 1998 (www.publications.parliament.uk).
|Number of press officers||Actual salaries spend|
(38) Excludes the transfer of five members of staff to the Department for Work and Pensions as part of the machinery of government changes following the general election.
Mr. Gibb : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on his objectives of (a) increasing the number of specialist schools and (b) moves towards a broader curriculum. 
Mr. Miliband: Specialist schools are a central part of this Government's overall framework for raising standards in secondary education in England. The Specialist Schools Programme helps schools to establish distinctive identities through their chosen specialisms and achieve their targets to raise standards. Besides their specialist work, specialist schools are working to raise levels of achievement across the curriculum and collaborating with other schools and the wider community for the benefit of all pupils. We are challenging schools to deliver high quality plans and targets that drive improvement, whether they are new entrants to the scheme or seeking to renew their status.
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We maintain our commitment to ensuring that during their period of compulsory education, all young people should follow a broad and balanced programme. We intend to introduce greater flexibility and choice in the Key Stage 4 curriculum so that schools can offer programmes that better meet young people's individual needs and strengths, whilst ensuring they acquire the core of general learning and experience essential to later learning and employment.
We have announced a Working Group, to be chaired by Mr. Mike Tomlinson, to advise us on three key areas of long term work: the need for a much stronger vocational offer; the requirement for more manageable assessment, which recognises all of a young person's achievements; and the aim of broadening choice and stretching students, with a unified framework of qualifications designed to provide opportunities for young people of all abilities.
Mr. Neil Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he expects to activate that part of the Employment Act 2002 giving union learning representatives statutory rights to paid time off to carry out their duties. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We intend to bring Section 43 of the Employment Act into effect in spring this year, following Parliamentary approval of the revised ACAS Code of Practice on Time Off for Trade Union Duties and Activities. This has recently been amended to include guidance on time off and training for Union Learning Representatives.