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Key Stage 1

14. Mr. Jenkins To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to reform assessment methods at Key Stage 1; and if he will make a statement. [141770]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: We have developed a new approach to assessment at Key Stage 1. We have asked the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to trial an approach that uses testing to underpin teacher assessment.

Teachers will make a rounded assessment of each child, taking into account task and test results and their own judgment on the child's work. 37 LEAs are in the trial. If the trial is successful it will be extended to all schools in the next academic year.

Student Bursaries

15. Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has for university student bursaries; and if he will make a statement. [141771]

Alan Johnson: We have made it clear that universities will need to offer bursaries and other forms of financial support in their access agreement if they want to charge a fee above the standard level. We are considering and discussing the precise contents of access agreements and the duties of the Office for Fair Access and will make a statement in due course.

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School Funding

16. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the range of funding available through the formula spending share per pupil in local education authorities. [141772]

Mr. Miliband: The Government funds a basic amount per pupil, which is the same everywhere, plus top-ups for deprived pupils,again the same amount per pupil wherever they live, and further top up for areas with high recruitment and retention costs. Authorities receiving more through the top-ups receive a higher level of funding per pupil, reflecting their relatively greater need.

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many schools are in education action zones in the current financial year, broken down by local education authority; and what the total funding made available in the current financial year under the programme is in each education authority area; [141460]

Mr. Miliband: The information requested has been placed in the Libraries.

Tuition Fees

17. Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of (a) flat rate and (b) variable university tuition fees, with particular reference to equity of access. [141773]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Flat rate fees force all students to pay the same fee, regardless of the quality of their course, the demand for it, and the return they get from it. Fixed fees mean that there would be no Office for Fair Access, no progress on widening access and no bursaries for poorer students; and they continue to subsidise rich students at the expense of poorer ones. Flat fees would also require universities to charge the required amount even where they wished to offer a course at a lower charge. Variable fees suffer none of these drawbacks: they are fairer than flat rate fees.

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Foster Carers

18. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to increase the number of foster carers; and if he will make a statement. [141774]

Margaret Hodge: In March 2002 we launched the Choice Protects Programme which aims to improve placement choice and stability for looked after children. The first tranche of the three year £113 million grant was given to local authorities to expand and strengthen their fostering services. At national level we have taken action to improve foster carers' pension entitlement and tax position. We have commissioned the Fostering Network to produce recruitment guidelines and are developing a publicity pack to help local authority recruitment of foster carers. Both of these will be available early next year.

The Green Paper, "Every Child Matters", has sought views on radical and imaginative ways of encouraging people to become foster carers and ensuring they are valued and recognised.

School Funding (North Yorkshire)

19. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent representations he has received on school funding in North Yorkshire. [141775]

Mr. Miliband: My right hon. Friend has received few recent representations about school funding issues in North Yorkshire. On 29 October he announced proposals to restore stability to school funding. Further information about funding for next year was announced on 19 November as part of the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement. In 2004–05 all authorities will see an increase in their School Formula Spending Share of at least 5 per cent. per pupil: North Yorkshire's increase is 6 per cent.

Admissions Policy

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance has been issued to schools on special measures about their admissions policies; and what discretion they have been given on the admission of children who have been excluded from other schools. [141951]

Mr. Miliband: The School Admissions Code of Practice states that, exceptionally, admission authorities for schools under special measures or those that have recently come out of them may refuse to admit a challenging child, outside the normal year of entry and where there are places available, on the grounds that admission would prejudice the provision of effective education or the efficient use of resources. This will normally only be appropriate if they already have a particularly high concentration of pupils with challenging behaviour, or the child is particularly challenging,


Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assistance the Government is

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providing to primary schools to (a) establish student councils, (b) combat bullying and (c) develop anti-bullying (i) strategies and (ii) products. [141719]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department has worked with School Councils UK to produce a toolkit to help primary schools develop effective School Councils. A copy has been sent to every LEA in England.

Last month I launched the schools' anti-bullying Charter for Action at the first of a series of regional DfES anti-bullying conferences. We hope primary and secondary schools will adopt the Charter or adapt it to create their own. The Charter includes good practice suggestions. We are also producing audit and training materials for primary schools which deal with bullying as well as other aspects of managing behaviour and attendance. These supplement the DfES guidance pack "Bullying: Don't Suffer in Silence" which helps schools develop and implement their anti-bullying policies.

Debt (Late Payment)

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many claims for statutory interest payments have been submitted to private companies under the terms of the Late Payment of Commercial Debt (Interest) Act 1998; how many claims were met; and what the total value was of such payments in each year since the Act has been in operation. [141598]

Mr. Charles Clarke: No such claims have been made by my Department.

Education (North-west)

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of young people in (a) St. Helens, (b) Merseyside and (c) the North West achieved (i) five or more A*-C GCSE grades and (ii) one or more GCSE passes in (A) 1992, (B) 1997, (C) 2001 and (D) the last year for which figures are available. [141267]

Mr. Miliband: The statistical information requested is detailed in the following tables:

Percentage of 15-year-old pupils(39) achieving 5 or more grades A*–C

Academic yearSt. HelensMerseysideNorth West
2003 (Provisional)(40)44.846.148.9

Percentage of 15-year-old pupils(39) achieving at least one GCSE/GNVQ

Academic yearSt. HelensMerseysideNorth West
2003 (Provisional)(40)92.592.694.4

(39) Pupils are aged 15 at the start of the academic year i.e. 31 August.

(40) The provisional figures for 2003 exclude any adjustments for refugees, which may affect the LEA averages.

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