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11 Dec 2003 : Column 612W—continued

Student Finance

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (a) fee remission systems, (b) grants and (c) bursaries he proposes for (i) higher education and (ii) other level 4 courses delivered through the further education system. [142635]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 9 December 2003]: The HE White Paper sets out our proposals for student support. From 2004, we are introducing a grant worth up to £1,000 to assist students from low-income backgrounds. The full grant will be available to those whose household income is below £15,200, estimated to be around 30 per cent. of students. This is in addition to the loans available for students' living costs, currently of up to £4,930 and a grant for tuition fees currently worth up to £1,125 a year. From next year, the hardship loan fund will be merged into the Access to Learning Fund. All payments of grants will be non-repayable and will be delivered through universities and colleges. Students with dependants and disabled students will continue to benefit from a series of grants that are designed to assist with the cost of entering higher education. We are also introducing a more flexible package of support for part-time students. Full details on the 04/05 student support package were announced on 3 December 2003, Official Report, column 61WS.

From 2006, students will no longer have to pay up-front fees. Instead, we will offer a loan for fees, which with the maintenance loan will be repayable after graduation once earnings exceed £15,000. Any institution that wishes to charge higher fees must first have an access agreement, approved by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). We are considering and discussing the content of access agreements, including bursaries and other financial support, and the role of OFFA, and will make an announcement in due course.

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the oral answer given by the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Alan Simpson) on 3 December 2003, Official Report, column 504, if he will publish the alternative methods for funding higher education being considered by his Department. [142735]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 9 December 2003]: I refer the hon. Member to the letters from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly) dated 11 April, 3 June and 12 November, and also to our response to the Education and Skills Select Committee of 28 July. Copies of all these documents have been placed in the House Library. We will be providing further information in due course.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students in each university are receiving (a) full fee remission and (b) bursary support. [143102]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 9 December 2003]: The information requested has been placed in the Libraries.

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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research he has commissioned into students' risk aversion to debt. [143104]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 9 December2003]: The Department has recently published results from the 2002–03 Student Income and Expenditure Survey. This showed that more students are taking on debt; 92 per cent. of students anticipated leaving university with debts in 2002–03. All students are taking on more debt on average, partly as a result of the complete replacement of mandatory grants with student loans, and partly to finance higher levels of expenditure.

In addition, in 2001 the Department published research entitled, 'Social Class and Higher Education: Issues Affecting Participation by Lower Social Class groups' which amongst other things explored the relationship between social class and students' attitudes to debt. This research showed that most potential and current students accepted that they would accumulate debt but felt that the investment was worthwhile and that most current students were confident about paying back the debt they were accruing.

Both research reports are available from the Department's website at

Teaching Methods

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what new teaching methods are being introduced geared to each child's ability. [141799]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The national Primary and Key Stage 3 Strategies have enabled teachers to improve and broaden their teaching skills to raise standards of attainment for children of all abilities. Typical of their approach to inclusion has been the help on challenging and supporting all pupils in whole class teaching, in the ways in which teachers differentiate tasks, in the ways pupils are grouped, and in the ways in which teaching assistants are used to support pupils. This year Key Stage 3 Challenge Programmes offer support in new approaches in one-to-one teaching for pupils who are falling behind in basic skills. Our programme for gifted and talented education, including our support for the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Young, is also helping to develop teachers' understanding of the most effective approaches to the teaching of the most able pupils.

Our ambitions for personalised learning in schools are that universal provision should be tailored-to the needs of every child. Central to this agenda are that teachers have more effective skills in formative assessment. We know through a wide body of research, for example through the Ofsted report "Good Assessment in Secondary Schools" published earlier this year, that the quality of assessment by teachers has a significant impact on attitudes to learning through challenging children and through encouraging teachers to focus on how to improve the learning skills of individual pupils. That is why we have made available to all schools the new Pupil Achievement Tracker to help them identify their pupils' strengths and weaknesses and set appropriate targets for development, based on the results of pupils in their National Curriculum Tests.

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And through the Primary and Key Stage 3 Strategies we will be making available to teachers next year support in assessment for learning techniques and approaches.


Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills by what means the Department's policy for purchasing timber and timber products ensures that they are obtained from legal and sustainable sources. [141332]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The Department for Education and Skills uses the Ministry of Defence and Office of Government Commerce contracts for the supply of office furniture. These are compliant with all current Government guidance. It is also departmental policy to include the model timber specification clause in all relevant contracts, and all buyers of timber and timber related products are aware of central Government guidance.

University Funding

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list written representations he has received from the vice-chancellors of (a) Oxford, (b) Cambridge, (c) Sheffield and (d) Sheffield Hallam universities about university funding in the last three years. [143693]

Alan Johnson: Both my right hon. Friend and I have received numerous representations from universities on a number of matters related to the funding of higher education, both by means of formal correspondence and in meetings with Vice Chancellors and others from the higher education sector.


Big Conversation

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what visits (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department (i) have made and (ii) plan to make using public funds in connection with the Big Conversation; how many civil servants accompanied each Minister in respect of such visits; what the cost to public funds was of visits by (A) each Minister and (B) civil servants in connection with the Big Conversation; and if he will make a statement. [143099]

Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 9 December 2003]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Leader of the House on 9 December 2003, Official Report, Vol. 415, column 355W.

Antisocial Behaviour Orders

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Antisocial Behaviour Orders have been issued in Suffolk in each year since their inception. [143529]

Ms Blears: The number of notifications received by the Home Office of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) issued in Suffolk from 1 April 1999 up to 30 June 2003 (latest available) is given in the table.

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The number of notifications, as reported to the Home Office, of ASBOs issued in Suffolk, from 1 April 19991 to 30 June 2003 (latest available)

1 April 1999 to 31 May 2000(16)3
1 June 2000 to 31 December 20000
1 January 2001 to 31 December 20014
1 January 2002 to 30 November 20024
31 December 2002 to 30 June 2003(16)11

(16) From 1 April 1999 up to 31 May 2000 data collected by police force area (pfa).


Following implementation of the Police Reform Act (2 December 2002), data for December 2002 are incorporated into the first quarter 2003 data.

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