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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what arrangements there are for educating schoolchildren in how better to deal with (a) depression and (b) related emotional help and well-being problems. [114744]

Mr. Miliband: Many schools actively adopt a variety of methods to help address the emotional needs of their pupils, including dealing with depression. Some adopt whole-school approaches, working to create a school environment with features designed to promote pupils' emotional well-being. Other schools choose actively to promote emotional well-being through the curriculum by using specific programmes designed to teach emotional, social and behavioural skills. Where

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individual pupils could benefit from more intensive support, schools may decide to involve them in individual or group work, such as nurture groups, anger-management training or bereavement support groups, to help address their particular problems. Many schools use a combination of these approaches.

Schools within the Behaviour Improvement Project (BIP) are encouraged and advised on how to respond to the emotional needs of their pupils. In addition, the BIP funds the provision of multi-agency teams who help in the identification and support of those with, or at risk of developing social, emotional and behavioural problems including depression. Known as Behaviour and Education Support Teams (BESTs) they work in targeted primary and secondary schools, and in the community, alongside a range of other support structures and services. The BIP is fully operational in 34 LEAs and will apply to selected schools in a further 27 LEAs, which will be operational from September 2003. The Department is also looking at other ways of extending the spread of this work across schools, primarily through training and guidance.

In June 2001, the DfES issued guidance, "Promoting Children's Mental Health within Early Years and School Settings". This is designed to help teachers and others, working alongside mental health professionals, to promote children's mental health and to intervene effectively with those children experiencing problems. There is a section in the guidance on the interventions teachers might use to address specific mental health disorders including depression. Schools are also encouraged to work closely with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Research on effective joint working between schools and CAMHS is given in the DfES Research Report 412, published in April 2003.

Disabled Students

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to require the Office for Fair Access in Education to consider the access to higher education of students with disabilities in its remit. [114191]

Margaret Hodge: Students with disabilities are protected against discrimination in higher education, including admission, by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001. Universities may also wish to include an ambition in their access agreement to widen participation to those with disabilities where appropriate. Access agreements must be approved by the Office for Fair Access.

Early Years Education

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of children living in the Greater London area receive education at three or four years of age. [114855]

Mr. Miliband: In January 2002, 89 per cent. of three or four-year-old children in Greater London received education in a private, voluntary, independent, special or maintained establishment.

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In every local education authority area there is an early education place for every four-year-old whose parents want one in either the maintained, private or voluntary sector. We have made the commitment that by April 2004, six months ahead of our original target, all three-year-olds whose parents want one, will have access to a free, part-time early education place.

The latest local authority figures on early year's provision in England were published in the Departments Statistical Bulletin 08/2002, "Provision for Children Under Five Years of Age in England: January 2002", in December 2002. An electronic copy of which is available in the Library and on the DfES website:

Education Action Zones

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many education action zones there are; what qualifies an area to be classified as a zone; and what action has been taken in these zones since they were established to improve education. [115124]

Mr. Miliband: There are currently 72 statutory zones (EAZs) made up of over 1,300 schools throughout the country. In Round One, 25 statutory zones were set up between September 1998 and January 1999. A further 48 zones were established between September 1999 and April 2000 in Round Two.

All zones were initially set up for a limited statutory term of three years. All Round One zones and many of the Round Two zones have had their terms extended to the maximum statutory period of five years. Preston EAZ transformed into an Excellence Cluster in December 2002 and was the pilot for our transformation strategy. EAZs have been set up in areas where there is a mixture of social and economic disadvantage where schools are tending to achieve levels of educational performance well below the national average.. They are in both urban and rural areas, wherever groups of schools want to take up the challenge of raising their educational standards.

EAZs have given local partnerships the freedom and resources to propose innovative strategies that would be difficult to put into practise at the level of the individual schools. Partnerships typically comprise a mix of parents, early years providers, businesses, the LEA, community organisations, the Learning Skills Council, careers services, colleges, other statutory agencies (such as health authorities, the youth service and the police) and others.

Zone initiatives generally focus on six main themes: improving the quality of teaching, improving the quality of learning, social inclusion, providing support to families, providing support to pupils and working with business and other organisations.

As a result of these initiatives the following successes have been recorded:

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Our Transformation Strategy on the future of EAZs, announced in November 2001, aims to continue to support ex-EAZ schools through the Excellence in Cities (EiC) initiative. When zones come to the end of their five-year statutory period, they will transform either to an EiC Action Zone in an EiC area, or an Excellence Cluster outside of an EiC area. The ethos of the Transformation Strategy is to rationalise our area-based programmes for under performing schools, to target resources where they are most needed and to reduce the burden and bureaucracy on these struggling schools.

Education Funding (Wandsworth)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussion he has had with the London Borough of Wandsworth on education funding for the borough for the year 2003–04; and if he will make a statement. [116713]

Mr. Miliband: 1 met Councillors and officers from London Borough of Wandsworth on 4 March 2003 to discuss the council's proposed schools budget. The Department wrote to Wandsworth LEA on 2 May about their schools budget and received a reply on 12 May.

Education Spending Formulae

John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent representations he has received from London local authorities on education formula spending shares and the addition of the Standard Fund Grant; and if he will make a statement. [116578]

Mr. Miliband: My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations from London education authorities about school funding issues. He made a statement to the House on 15 May 2003, Official Report, column 13WS.

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