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8 Dec 2003 : Column 292Wcontinued
Mr. Stephen Twigg: Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 was introduced on 1 October 1998 to stop the indiscriminate sale of school playing fields that occurred in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s. Local authorities and governing bodies of all maintained schools now need the Secretary of State's consent before they can dispose of a playing field or any part of a playing field. Applications to sell school playing fields are only approved where it is clear that they meet the published criteria and, in particular, that any proceeds will be used to improve school sports provision or education facilities.
There are no central records of how many school playing fields were sold before October 1998. Between October 1998 and December 1998, the Government approved seven applications to sell school playing fields larger than a sports pitch; 42 applications were approved in 1999, 32 in 2000, 22 in 2001, 23 in 2002, and so far 10 have been approved in 2003.
The Government are investing more than £1 billion in England to transform physical education, school sport and club links. The funding will help deliver an ambitious Public Service Agreement target, shared by the Departments for Education and Skills and for Culture, Media and Sport, to increase the percentage of 5 to 16- year-olds who spend a minimum of two hours each week on high quality PE and school sport within and beyond the curriculum to 75 per cent. by 2006. Data collected during the autumn term 2002 suggested that about a third of schools provided this entitlement at Key Stage 1, two fifths at Key Stage 2 and a third at
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance is given to (a) local education authorities and (b) learning and skills commissions on the operation of school sixth forms in rural areas. 
Under section 2 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000, the Learning and Skills Council has a duty to secure the provision of proper educational facilities for people who are above compulsory school age but have not attained age 19. LEAs have powers to secure post-16 educational facilities under Section 15A and 15B of the Education Act 1996, which are discretionary.
Our published principles underpinning 1619 provision set out our expectation that provision will be organised to show that young people have access, within reasonable travelling distance, to high quality learning opportunities across the school, college and work-based training routes that will meet their interests, aptitudes and aspirations and will promote participation and attainment in learning.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what powers local learning and skills commissions have to overturn recommendations from local education authorities with regard to reorganisation of school sixth forms. 
Mr. Miliband: Local education authorities have powers under sections 28 and 29 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to publish statutory proposals to establish or discontinue schools with sixth forms, including 1619 schools, and to make changes to schoolsfor example they may propose to add or close a school sixth form. LEAs may implement their proposals if there are no objections during consultation, otherwise the proposals will be decided locally by the School Organisation Committee for the area.
If the local Learning and Skills Council disagrees with the proposals it can object during consultation and use its vote on the School Organisation Committee to have the case referred to an independent schools adjudicator.
Only if the LSC has published final re-organisation proposals do they take precedence over any simultaneous related LEA/school proposals. In these cases a decision on the LEA's proposals must be deferred pending a decision by the Secretary of State on the LSC proposals.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidelines there are on the minimum acceptable size for a school sixth form; and whether these guidelines were communicated to (a) local education authorities, (b) learning and skills commissions and (c) Ofsted. 
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We have made clear in our published principles for the organisation of 1619 provision that well-managed collaboration can enable popular and successful sixth forms, including small sixth forms, to remain viable and to share and build on their particular areas of expertise.
Margaret Hodge: I am actively considering a proposal we have received for a pilot project to divert contact disputes away from the courts. I expect to make an announcement shortly, as part of the work we have been undertaking in formulating a final response to the Children Act Sub-Committee (CASC) report "Making Contact Work".
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many schools gained specialist status in (a) technology, (b) sports, (c) arts, (d) languages, (e) engineering, (f) science, (g) mathematics and computing and (h) business and enterprise (i) before and (ii) after September 2002. 
|Gained specialist status:|
|(i) Before September 2002||(ii) After September 2002||Total|
|(a) Technology Colleges||465||60||525|
|(b) Sports Colleges||161||68||229|
|(c) Arts Colleges||173||57||230|
|(d) Language Colleges||162||32||194|
|(e) Engineering Colleges||4||10||14|
|(f) Science Colleges||24||97||121|
|(g) Maths & Computing||12||65||77|
|(h) Business & Enterprise||18||63||81|
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether aptitude selection by specialist schools is permitted under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 in the (a) engineering, (b) mathematics and computing and (c) business and enterprise specialisms. 
Mr. Miliband: The specialist subjects covered by the engineering specialism include design and technology and information technology. The specialist subjects covered by the mathematics and computing and the business and enterprise specialisms include information technology.
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Standards and Framework Act. Schools designated in these three categories could therefore identify a specialism in which to select up to 10 per cent. of their pupils on the basis of their aptitude for that specialism.
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The Specialist Schools Programme is contributing to the creation of a specialist system in which every secondary school has its own special ethos and works with others to spread best practice and raise standards. There are now specialist schools in all areas of England, and every local education authority that has secondary schools has a specialist school.
|Region||Arts||Business and Enterprise||Engineering||Language||Maths and Computing||Science||Sports||Technology||Combined Specialisms||Total|
|York & the Humber||20||8||2||19||10||10||23||49||2||143|
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