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Funding of Schools Programme

12. Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the basis was for his decision on how funding under the funding of schools programme should be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the impact of that decision on Nottingham, North. [147877]

Mr. Miliband: We will announce shortly the local authority projects in wave 1 of Building Schools for the Future. We published our criteria for prioritisation in July 2003, and I have placed a copy of this guidance in the House of Commons Library.

Secondary education in every part of England should have facilities of 21st Century standard, and we are committed to deliver this goal within 10 to 15 years from 2005–06, subject to future public spending decisions.

Physics Graduates

13. Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students graduated with degrees in physics in (a) 1997 and (b) 2003. [147878]

Alan Johnson: The number of students obtaining degrees in physics was 2,440 in 1997 and 2,205 in 2003.

LEA Expenditure

14. Mr. Plaskitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on exempting local education authorities from limitations on their central expenditure. [147879]

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Mr. Miliband: We have made clear that our priority for school funding in 2004–05 is getting money into schools' own delegated budgets. That is why a statutory limit on increases in central spend within education authorities' overall Schools Budgets is an important feature of the arrangements which my right hon. Friend announced on 29 October. We recognise however that some authorities, in exceptional circumstances, may have difficulty in complying with the national limit, and there is a process by which they may seek approval for a higher limit.

Early Years Education

15. Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress he has made with his policy on early years education; and if he will make a statement. [147880]

Margaret Hodge: Before 1997, whether or not your child could get a nursery place depended entirely on where you lived. By April 2004, six months ahead of target, every three and four-year-old child will enjoy a free part-time nursery education place as of right. That is the difference the Labour Government makes to children's opportunities.

By introducing the warmly received Foundation Stage for children in their early years together with the registration and inspection of all settings by Ofsted, we are ensuring high quality nursery education for all our children.

We are now starting to develop Children's Centres which combine early education with full day care, health and family support. 61 Children's Centres have been approved and the Chancellor recently announced in his pre-Budget review that we will create 1,000 Children's Centres by 2008.

Primary School Teachers

16. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many primary school teachers were on permanent contracts in London in September (a) 1997, (b) 2000, (c) 2001 and (d) 2003; and how many unfilled vacancies there were in each of these months. [147881]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The information is not available in this form. In the London Government Office Region, there were 28,860 full-time equivalent regular teachers in maintained nursery and primary schools at January 1997; 28,870 at January 2000; 29,190 at January 2001; and 29,760 at January 2003. There were 450 unfilled nursery and primary teacher vacancies at January 1997; 520 at January 2000; 820 at January 2001; and 410 at January 2003.

Capital Funding (East Midlands)

17. Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations he has received concerning targeted capital funding in the east midlands. [147882]

Mr. Miliband: We have received two letters supporting targeted capital fund bids in the east midlands. Although authorities in your region were not very successful in last year's round, the Department has

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worked closely with east midland authorities since then to try to ensure that they have a better understanding of the bidding process and assessment criteria. We aim to announce successful projects shortly.

Deaf Children

18. Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department has taken to ensure access to the full school curriculum for all deaf children; and if he will make a statement. [147883]

Margaret Hodge: All maintained schools—mainstream and special—are required to provide the full national curriculum and to ensure that all deaf children have access to it, other than where it has been disapplied.

Variable Fees

19. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether he plans that the cap on variable fees will stay at £3,000 until 2014. [147884]

Alan Johnson: I have already given my assurance that the fee cap will stay at £3,000 in real terms for the life of the next Parliament and I confirm that once more. Beyond that, any increase which is above the rate of inflation will, under the terms of the legislation, need to be approved by affirmative resolution which would require the consent of both Houses. I recognise that there are none the less concerns about the impact of variable fees on the university system: the Government will therefore establish an independent review, working with the Office for Fair Access, to report to the House, based on the first three years of their operation.

Adult Learning Grant

20. Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department is taking to promote the take up of the Adult Learning Grant. [147885]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are working with the Learning and Skills Council, further education providers and other partners to promote the Adult Learning Grant. The main focus of the 10 pilots is on promoting the grant to new learners starting courses during January 2004 and to existing learners who may be eligible but have not applied. This involves a variety of methods including posters, college prospectuses, advertising in the local press, on bus shelters and on local radio, and mail shots targeted at specific audiences. Over 2,600 people have applied for the grant.


Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average time taken to complete an adoption placement was, broken down by local authority area, for the last 12 months for which figures are available. [143362]

Margaret Hodge: The attached table shows the average time in days between the local authority's decision that it is in a child's best interest to be adopted and the date of adoption, for looked after children adopted in England during the year ending 31 March 2002. A copy of the table has been placed in the Library.

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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans his Department has to assist in making broadband available to an educational institution available to the wider community. [147916]

Mr. Charles Clarke: My Department recognises the potential benefits to the community in schools being connected to broadband and making access to their ICT infrastructure more widely available. The 10 Regional Broadband Consortia for England are working with their member LEAs and schools in their area to develop this network accessibility.

The cross-government Broadband Aggregation Project, announced by e-Commerce Minister Stephen Timms in July last year, is also addressing the issues involved in using schools as broadband hubs for the wider community. Although there are some instances already where schools are extending access to the community, there are a number of issues to consider and resolve before defining the way forward in this area.

In terms of access to ICT more broadly, the Department's Extended Schools and School Community Links Team are developing guidance to assist schools in offering a range of ICT facilities to their communities. This guidance is expected to be available by the end of March 2004.

Children Green Paper

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills at what stage under the proposals in the Children Green Paper children will be given a unique identification number with corresponding data file. [145657]

Margaret Hodge: A Bill designed to improve services which protected children was announced in the Queens speech will be introduced to improve services designed to protect children. Subject to the outcome of consultation on the Children's Green Paper "Every Child Matters", the Bill will include proposals for local information sharing systems to enable practitioners to share early information about children and young people where appropriate. Implementation of the proposed local systems will require the development of a basic dataset on all children in an area together with a unique identifying number. This would apply from birth or if a child moves areas still has the same number. Only when a child comes into the country will she/he have to be allocated a number.

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