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Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on his Department's procurement policy with regard to offshore IT and call centre outsourcing; whether his Department is outsourcing IT and call centre jobs to offshore companies; to which countries his Department has outsourced these jobs; how much his Department has spent on this outsourcing in each of the last two years; and how much has been budgeted for this purpose for the next two years. 
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propriety and regularity. My Department complies with the EU Treaty, including the principle of non-discrimination, the EC procurement directives and the UK's international obligations. Provided these principles, and other more detailed arrangements such as those set out in the "Staff Transfers in the Public SectorStatement of Practice", are satisfied, there is no reason why my Department should not let contracts to offshore companies. This said, my Department has not outsourced any former internal IT and call centre jobs to offshore companies. We have no plans to do so. My Department also lets a considerable number of contracts for services with a very wide variety of partners. Some of those contracts have included IT and call centre elements as an integral part of the delivery arrangements. In no case has there been a direct contractual relationship with an offshore company for an IT or call centre related contract.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much (a) revenue and (b) capital funding each local education authority has been allocated by the Department to establish pupil referral units. 
Mr. Miliband [holding answer 19 January 2004]: The Department does not allocate funding specifically for the setting up or maintaining of pupil referral units. Local education authorities receive revenue funding for pupils with high cost needs through the high cost pupil sub-block of the Education Formula Spending Share. The proportion of pupils with high cost needs is estimated for each authority using population data, children in families in receipt of Income Support and low birth weight.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether a school governing body can refuse to accept delegation from a local education authority of responsibility for the school meals service. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 22 January 2004]: The effect of the Education (Transfer of Functions Concerning School Lunches etc.) (England) (No. 2) Order 1999 is that when a school's budget share includes funding for meals, the statutory duties to provide school lunches (including free school meals for eligible pupils), and to comply with nutritional standards, are transferred to the school's governing body. The governing body cannot refuse. In Essex funding is delegated in budget shares for all schools and consequently the statutory duties rest with the schools' governing bodies. If the authority provides a 'buy-back' service a school may choose to purchase that from the authority; if it does not, the school governing body must make alternative provision. The Department is in touch with Essex County Council regarding support for schools as the current contract comes to an end.
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Mr. Stephen Twigg: Local education authorities have a duty to provide free and paid for school meals that meet nutritional standards. Where a school has a delegated budget for meals, this duty becomes the responsibility of the governing body. From April 2000, funding for school meals was delegated to all secondary schools. Primary and special schools can opt for delegation.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) formal, (b) federated and (c) informal collaborations are taking place (i) between secondary schools and (ii) between secondary schools and further education colleges, broken down by local education authority. 
Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 22 January 2004]: 70 per cent. of all secondary schools are involved in at least one formal collaborative network with other secondary schools. The numbers of schools involved in formal collaborative networks by LEA are contained in the following table.
The Department does not hold details of collaboration taking place between secondary schools and further education colleges; nor does the Department collect information on collaboration that takes place informally.
|LEA||Number of secondary schools in network|
|Barking and Dagenham||8|
|Bath and North East Somerset||10|
|Blackburn with Darwen||9|
|Brighton and Hove||9|
|Bristol City of||18|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||10|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||8|
|Isle of Wight||4|
|Isles of Scilly||0|
|Kensington and Chelsea||4|
|Kingston upon Hull City of||15|
|Kingston upon Thames||8|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||11|
|North East Lincolnshire||8|
|Redcar and Cleveland||11|
|Richmond upon Thames||6|
|Telford and Wrekin||8|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||5|
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans his Department has to provide help to develop management information systems where secondary schools or further education institutions are (a) undertaking collaborative working and (b) are part of a federated structure. 
Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 22 January 2004]: The Department has provided funding and is working closely with LEAs to support them in ensuring they have an infrastructure for management information systems in all their maintained schools, including those schools working collaboratively with other educational institutions or those within a federated structure. Total funding is £30 million via LEAs in 200102 and £7 million supplementary in 200203. Collaborative working is also supported in the form of access to on-line communities through the National College of School Leadership's Talk2Learn facility and will be part of a single annual conversation with the education system on targets, priorities and support and improved data flows.
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