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12 Mar 2003 : Column 300W—continued

Student Loans

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the maximum student loan available for a medical student doing a six year course will be after the introduction of the measures outlined in the Government's White Paper; and what the maximum tuition fees are which such a student will be required to pay. [100933]

Margaret Hodge: For English and Welsh domiciled students the maximum means tested loan in 2002–03 is £3,090 for a student residing at their parent's home; and otherwise £3,905, unless for studying in London, where it is £4,815. Eligible medical students from lower income families on a six year course will be entitled to these levels of loan, increased for inflation, for four years. Many will also be entitled to a further Higher Education Grant of £1,000 for four years from October 2004. In year five medical students are entitled to a non means tested reduced rate loan (at 2002–03 prices) of £1,465 if they are living with a parent, £1,915 otherwise, and £2,365 if they are studying in London. In the final year these figures reduce to £1,075, £1,400 and £1,725 respectively. In addition, in years five and six English domiciled medical students may receive non repayable annual means tested bursaries from the Department of Health, or if Welsh domiciled from the Welsh Assembly Government, of up to £1,758 (living with parent), £2,148 (otherwise) or £2,640 (living in London).

After implementation of the White Paper proposals, the annual fee contribution for four years will vary from £0-£3,000 per year but the upfront cost to students and parents would be reduced from the current maximum of £1,100 since fees would start to be repaid only after graduation (and achievement of an income threshold of £15,000 per year). Students on lower incomes would continue as now to receive a grant for fees of £1,100 (increased annually for inflation) and their loan for fees would not exceed £1,900 a year. In cases where the Access Regulator agrees higher fee levels than £1,100, university bursary schemes will further reduce the cost of fees to some students on low incomes.

Fee support for English domiciled medical students in years five and six is the responsibility of the Department of Health. Currently students pay no contributions to fees. Department of Health Ministers have indicated that, whatever the future levels of tuition fees, they will take measures to ensure that any increase in the cost of university courses will not have an adverse impact on the supply, retention, diversity or quality of students on health professional courses, including medicine.

Sure Start

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will place the technical note underlying Sure Start's Public Service Agreement in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [94885]

Maria Eagle: The Technical Note has been published and a copy has been placed in the Libraries.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of teachers retire at or before age 60 years; and if he will make a statement. [99818]

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Mr. Miliband: Early retirement is available to teachers between the ages of 50 and 59. During 2001–02, 3,450 teachers under the age of 60 who had been employed in the maintained schools sector in England were awarded early payment of retirement benefits. This represents around 3 per cent. of the teaching work force in the 50–59 age range. In addition, 1,760 teachers in the 50–59 age range and 580 teachers aged under 50 were awarded ill-health retirement benefits on the grounds of permanent incapacity.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many teachers (a) left the teaching profession and (b) there have been in (i) Sutton Coldfield and (ii) the UK in each year since 1997; [100673]

Mr. Miliband: Information on teacher numbers and vacancies is collected at local authority level. The table provides information for Birmingham local education authority at January of each year:

YearFTE regular teachers(9)Vacancies(10)

(9) Full-time equivalent regular teachers in post in the maintained schools sector.

(10) Advertised vacancies for full-time permanent appointments (or appointments of at least one term's duration) in maintained nursery, primary, secondary and special schools.


Includes vacancies being filled on a temporary basis unless filled by someone with a fixed term contract of one term or more.


DfES annual 618G survey.

The following table shows the numbers of teachers leaving full-time

(11) or part- time

(12) service in the maintained schools sector in Birmingham and in England. The information is not available at constituency level.

The devolved Administrations are responsible for providing information on teachers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

(13) Leavers are those who were in full-time or part-time teaching in the maintained schools sector immediately before the period shown, who were not in service in that sector at the end of the period shown. Teachers leaving are based on pension returns. Some teachers may have moved from known service to service not recorded on the teacher pension return. Some leavers will be taking career breaks and will return to service at a later date.

(14) Around 10–20 per cent. of part-timers may not be included.

1 April–31March

1996–971997–98 (9)1998–991999–20002000–01

(15) Higher than usual numbers of premature retirements, following changes to the retirement regulations, contributed to the high levels of leavers in 1997–98.

(16) The most recent data available at LEA level are for 1999–2000.

(17) Not available

Source:DfES Database of Teacher Records.

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Teaching Assistants

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidelines he has published for the use of teaching assistants to take whole classes without the presence of a qualified teacher; and if he will make a statement. [100965]

Mr. Miliband: My Department recently completed a consultation on developing the role of school support staff, which included proposals for enhancing the role of support staff. These proposals included the development of a 'higher-level teaching assistant' role, for individuals who would have the skills and training to work with whole classes of pupils in the absence of, but under the supervision of, a qualified teacher. We have also recently completed a consultation on draft regulations and guidance under Section 133 of the Education Act 2002. These regulations outline the role of the qualified teacher and set out conditions under which individuals without qualified teacher status can undertake aspects of that role. This area was previously unregulated so the new regulations will strengthen the safeguards in place to protect the quality of pupils' education. My officials are currently considering the responses to the two consultations and the Department will be issuing revised regulations and further guidance in the near future, taking into account the consultation responses and the details set out in the recent National Agreement between the Government, school work force unions and the local government employers.


Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on his plans to provide more powers to welfare officers to curb truancy in schools. [99658]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The forthcoming Anti-Social Behaviour Bill will formally enable education welfare officers to ask parents who fail to secure their child's regular attendance at school to sign a parenting contract. This will mean agreeing to co-operate with support arranged by the local authority (typically a parenting course) and taking specified action to improve their child's attendance. Refusal to sign or breach of contract may result in a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.

The Bill will also enable education welfare officers to issue fixed penalty notices to parents who condone or ignore truancy. Failure to pay the penalty will result in prosecution.

These new powers will complement existing measures for tackling truancy, including 'fast-track' prosecutions and truancy sweeps.

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