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24 Feb 2003 : Column 166W—continued

School Playing Fields

Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many school playing fields disposals have (a) satisfied and (b) have not satisfied the criterion of a net gain for sport. [98114]

Mr. Miliband: Applications to dispose of school playing fields are assessed against three main criteria. These are:

The criteria are set out in the Department's Guidance 0580/2001: The Protection of School Playing Fields and Land for City Academies. The School Playing Fields Advisory Panel provides independent advice on the extent to which applications meet the published criteria. Over the past four years the Secretary of State has approved 118 applications to dispose, or change the use, of an area of school playing field larger than a sports pitch (i.e. 2,000 m 2 ). Of these, 48 were in respect of closed or closing schools and, of the remainder, 45 helped fund improved sports facilities at schools. No application has been approved that did not fully meet all of the criteria.

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School Safety

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what improvements have taken place within the system of safety inspections of schools since Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools' statement in December 2001. [94384]

Mr. Miliband: School inspectors are required to consider whether the school monitors health and safety and are expected to report on any hazards that they encounter. They are not, however, health and safety inspectors and do not audit possible health hazards such as the presence of asbestos. The responsibility rests with the head and governing body, and (for community and voluntary controlled schools) the local education authority. While it is impracticable for school inspectors to conduct rigorous health and safety inspections, they are required in every inspection to make a judgment about the extent to which pupils work in a healthy and safe environment.

School Staff

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many local authorities have exempted schools from the job evaluation schemes linked to the recent single status agreement for local government staff; [97685]

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 13 February 2003]: The pay and conditions of school support staff are a matter for local determination. The information requested is not collected centrally.

Schools (Job Evaluation Schemes)

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to review the type and amount of data collected by his Department on term-time working in education; and if he will make a statement. [97687]

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 13 February 2003]: National Statistics Strategic Review of school workforce statistics began this month. This review is intended to ensure that official statistics are fit for purpose, of appropriate quality and are valuable. Major stakeholders will be invited to take part in the review

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and a consultation process will enable other users to provide input. The possibility of collecting data on term-time working will be considered.

Further details about National Statistics Reviews can be found on the National Statistics website at: quality/quality review/quality review.asp

Sickness Absence

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the rate of staff (a) absenteeism and (b) sickness was in his Department, its predecessors and each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies in each year from 1990–91 to 2002–03; what the target set is for his Department; and if he will make a statement. [93501]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: My Department is committed to managing sickness absence effectively and is reviewing the way sickness absence is managed across the Department.

The target for DfES as set out in the Service Delivery Agreement is to reduce sickness absence to 6.0 days per staff year by 2003. The overall sickness absence rate in theDepartment for Education and Skills (DfES) for 2001 was 8.4 days per staff year.

The overall sickness absence rate per staff year in the former Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) and its agency, the Employment Service (ES), for each of the years from 2000 to 1995 was:

Calendar YearDfEE (excluding ES) (Days)ES (Days)DfEE (including ES) (Days)
20007.7 11. 8 11. 3
19997.6 11.5 11.0
19988.9 11. 9 11 .6
19979.8 13.0 12.6
199610.3 12.1 11.8
199510.3 12.4 11.9

The overall sickness absence rate per staff year for the former Employment Department (ED) in 1994 was 10.2 days and for ES, 11.3 days; the rate for the ED Group, which also comprised the Health and Safety Executive and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, was 11.0 days. The overall sickness absence rate per staff year for the former Department of Education in 1994 was 8.2 days.

The information is taken from the report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service", which is published annually by Cabinet Office. The figures for 2002 will be announced in due course; figures prior to 1994 are no longer readily available.

Non- Departmental Public Bodies

The overall sickness absence rates per staff year in the years in question for each of the non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) attached to DfES, where they are applicable and available, are set out in tables 1 and 2 following.

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Calendar YearConstruction Industry Training Board (Days)Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (Days)National College for School Leadership (Days)Higher Education Funding Council for England (Days)Investors in People UK (Days)
200210.5 7.7 4.9 1.8 3.5
20018.6 6.5 2.1 3.5 6.0
20006.5 2.1 4.3
19996.2 2.1 2.0
19986.1 6.3

Financial YearAdult Learning Inspectorate (Days)Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (Days)Student Loans Company (Days)Teacher Training Agency (Days)British Educational Communication on and Technology Agency (Days)Learning and Skills Council (Days)
2001/026.5 7.4 11. 2 7.4 5.6 7.0
2000/018.4 12.0 5.4 4.8
1999/007.4 10. 8 6.7 10.3
1998/997.4 12.2 4.3
1997/986.0 10.8 5.8
1996/978.1 10.6
1995/967.7 10.0

The information in tables 1 and 2 has been provided by the NDPBs. Information on absenteeism is not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Standard Spending Assessment

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the education SSA per head is in secondary schools in (a) Bournemouth, (b) Poole, (c) Southampton, (d) Brighton, (e) Hampshire, (f) Dorset, (g) Wiltshire and (h) Sussex. [97786]

Mr. Miliband: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) on 8 January, Official Report, columns. 231–33W.

Student Debt

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what provision will be made under his proposals for higher education funding, regarding students who are unable to realise a working income sufficient to pay off the debt incurred as part of study fees because of (a) medical incapacity and (b) other reasons; and if he will make a statement. [93630]

Margaret Hodge: There are already appropriate arrangements in place under the current income-contingent repayment scheme. Repayment of a student's loan will be cancelled: when they reach the age of 65; if they are unable to work due to permanent disability; or when they die. Any graduate with a loan whose income is below the threshold at which repayments begin, currently £10,000 but rising to

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£15,000 in April 2005, will not be required to make repayments. This approach is both fair and equitable, and will continue when loans for deferred tuition fees are introduced in 2006–07.

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