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8 Dec 2003 : Column 288W—continued

Police Officers (Schools)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the local education authorities where police officers are based in schools; and for each local education authority what funding from his Department is made available in support. [141522]

Mr. Miliband: My Department and the Home Office have encouraged schools and the police to set up Safer School Partnerships (police in schools). To fund administrative staff and equipment for SSP officers, those partnerships in Behaviour Improvement Programme (BIP) areas are able to negotiate locally for a share of the area's BIP fund. We are paying over £1 million this year in BIP funds for all eligible activities including SSPs in each of the local education authorities listed as follows. We have many reports of good work achieved by BIP-funded SSPs in their first year. Some areas have also taken the initiative to start SSPs in non-BIP areas, using their own local funds.

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Post-16 Education

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will publish the protocol for the reorganisation of post-16 education with specific reference to the responsibilities held by (a) local education authorities and (b) local learning and skills commissions. [142309]

Mr. Miliband: We have no plans to publish a protocol for the reorganisation of sixth form education, with specific reference to the responsibilities held by Local Education Authorities and local Learning and Skills Councils.

Section 113A of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 as inserted by section 72 of the Education Act 2002, gave the Learning Skills Council powers from 1 April 2003 to re-organise sixth form provision in schools—including powers to make proposals to establish, alter or discontinue school sixth forms and 16–19 schools. Local LSCs can propose re-organisation following recommendations in an Ofsted Area Inspection Report or where they can demonstrate that the proposals will improve participation, raise standards or broaden the range of provision. The Secretary of State will decide on LSC re-organisation proposals.

LEAs have powers under sections 28 and 29 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to publish statutory proposals to change 16–19 provision in schools. They can publish proposals to establish or discontinue secondary schools with sixth forms and

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16–19 schools, and to alter provision in a school—for example by the addition or closure of a sixth form. LEAs may implement their proposals if there are no objections, otherwise the proposals will be decided locally by the School Organisation Committee for the area or an independent Adjudicator if the Committee cannot agree.

Should an LEA publish proposals that impact on final re-organisation proposals as published by the LSC, a decision on the LEA proposals will be deferred pending the Secretary of State's decision on the LSC proposals.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with (a) Gloucestershire Local Education Authority and (b) Gloucestershire Learning and Skills Commission on the review of post-16 education. [142310]

Mr. Miliband: The Secretary of State has had no discussions with Gloucester local education authority or Gloucestershire Learning and Skills Council about the review of post-16 education in Gloucestershire.

Public Service Support Staff

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the number of specialist public service support staff providing support to pre-school nursery and playgroups involved in implementing the foundation stage. [141142]

Margaret Hodge: Figures for the total number of public sector staff working with nurseries and pre-schools in the private, independent and voluntary sectors are not available.

Local authority specialists offer a wide range of support and advice to help maintain the quality of Government funded early education delivered by over 19,000 private, independent and voluntary settings, including nurseries and playgroups.

Their role includes ensuring that all settings have access to a Qualified Teacher and an Area Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator.

In addition, as part of the National Primary Strategy, the new Foundation Stage Director, Lesley Staggs, and her team of 12 regionally based experts will be engaging with local authorities to spread effective practice throughout the country.

School Finance

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the extent to which schools have used devolved capital allocations to meet shortfalls on their revenue budgets. [141927]

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 4 December 2003]: Local education authorities (LEAs) were requested to provide details of the amount of capital flexibility agreed with their schools by 30 November. The total amount agreed across all LEAs was £40,911,409 (Including Voluntary Aided schools). The total devolved formula allocation for 2003–04 to all LEAs was £681,277,138. This means that the total take up of the flexibility available was 6 per cent.

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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations he has received on funding for schools in (a) North Yorkshire and (b) the City of York; and if he will make a statement. [142046]

Mr. Miliband: We have received few recent representations about school funding issues in North Yorkshire and the City of York. Since the beginning of September we have, according to our records, received one letter about each. On 29 October my right hon. Friend 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. and the City of York's is 6.8 per cent.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what his policy is on how to bridge the funding shortfall for schools in North Yorkshire. [142047]

Mr. Miliband: On 29 October my right hon. Friend announced proposals to restore stability to school funding. Among the package of measures, we are ensuring that for 2004–05 all schools will see a guaranteed minimum increase in their per pupil budget amounting to 4 per cent. per pupil where pupil numbers remain the same. In addition, we have ensured that schools will receive an increase in the amounts of Standards Fund, School Standards Grant and funding from the LSC for sixth forms in line with the minimum guarantee.

We are increasing the School Formula Spending Share by a minimum of 5 per cent. per pupil—North Yorkshire's increase is 6 per cent. This will give the Authority the headroom and flexibility to deliver the guarantee and provide support to help schools facing additional pressures.

However, if North Yorkshire or any other LEA is able to put forward a compelling case that additional, transitional funds are needed in the short term—above and beyond those already available to the LEA—my right hon. Friend will be prepared to consider bringing forward grant payments from my Department, so that the LEA will have funds available in 2004–05 for this purpose, with the expectation of a consequential reduction to what they will receive in future years. The maximum amount that North Yorkshire might be able to bring forward in this way is would be £604,000.

School Meals

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what provisions are in place to ensure that school meals are balanced and follow the guidelines set down by the Department of Health for healthy eating. [141920]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: In April 2001, this Department introduced regulations that set nutritional standards for school lunches, together with complementary guidance to assist caterers in preparing school meals. The standards are based on the Government's "Balance of Good Health"—a pictorial representation of the five

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food groups that make up a healthy balanced diet. The standards prescribe the types of foods that should be available from the four main food groups, along with the frequency with which they should be served. The four main food groups are: fruit and vegetables; starchy foods; meat, fish and other non dairy sources of protein; and milk and dairy foods.

Research, jointly commissioned by this Department and the Food Standards Agency, is currently underway in 80 secondary schools in England. This will assess whether the food available at lunchtime meets the requirements of the standards and associated guidance. We expect the findings of this exercise to be available in late spring 2004.

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