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23 Feb 2004 : Column 206Wcontinued
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to improve educational attainment in the early years of secondary school; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Miliband [holding answer 12 February 2004]: The Government are committed to improving the attainment of all 11 to 14-year-olds through the Key Stage 3 National Strategy which is central to our wider plans for transforming secondary education. The strategy aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom by investing in teachers' professional development.
The strategy is starting to make a significant impact on standards after only one full year of implementation. The 2003 Key Stage 3 test results stand as the best ever on record with improvements in every subject and at every level. OFSTED have also endorsed the positive impact of the strategy and that it has been welcomed by teachers. Our priority is to build on the gains so far by further embedding the strategy, tackling under performance and supporting teachers in tailoring teaching and learning to better meet the needs of pupils and so personalise their learning experience.
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Margaret Hodge: I have not spoken to the General Medical Council, but my officials sought confirmation from GMC officials in autumn last year of press reports that Professor Sir Roy Meadow was under GMC investigation.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We do not know how many job vacancies are unfilled as a result of skill shortages. It is estimated that 135,000 job vacancies were hard to fill for skill-related reasons at the time of the Learning and Skills Council's National Employer Skills Survey but this does not mean that the vacancies will go unfilled.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total cost is of providing special needs education in (a) mainstream and (b) special schools in Gloucestershire in 200304; what percentage this forms of the total education budget; and if he will make a statement. 
|SEN element of schools budget(32)||9,320,818|
|SEN element of LEA budget(33)||1,830,229|
|ISB for special schools(34)||12,223,481|
|Funding delegated to primary and secondary schools identified as "Notional SEN"(35)||10,176,629|
|Cost of providing special needs education(36)||33,551,157|
|Total education budget(37)||286,597,291|
|Cost of providing special needs education as a percentage of total education budget||12|
(32) As recorded in lines 1.1.1 to 1.1.5 of Table 1 of the budget statement.
(33) As recorded in line 2.2.6 of Table 1 of the budget statement.
(35) As recorded on Table 2 of the budget statement (figures are only indicative of the amount that might be spent by schools on SEN).
(36) Sum of 1 to 4.
(37) As recorded on line 3 of Table 1 of the budget statement.
The data are taken from 200304 Section 52 Budget Statements as reported by Gloucestershire LEA.
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Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the comparative employment prospects of pupils with special needs educated in (a) mainstream schools and (b) special schools. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: No central record is kept of the outcomes for all young people with special educational needs (SEN) who attended mainstream or special schools. However, my Department has commissioned a longitudinal study of the post-16 transitions of young people with SEN. Wave one, which took place between January 2000 and September 2001 when the young people in the study were still aged 1516, found that more mainstream school pupils with SEN wanted to look for a job at the end of their compulsory schooling than special school pupils (28 per cent. as against 16 per cent.). The results from wave two of the study will be published in the spring and a wave three has been commissioned. These waves will show the development of any differential employment outcomes as between mainstream and special school pupils.
The new SEN strategy "Removing Barriers to Achievement", launched on 11 February, announced cross-Government action to improve the opportunities for progression beyond school for young people with SEN. A multi-agency group has been established to take this work forward and promoting employment as an aim in planning for the futures of almost all young people with SEN is one of the main objectives of this group. The group's work will take account of the findings of the SEN longitudinal study.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he had with the Chief Inspector of Schools about the publication of the list of schools in special measures. 
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many selective schools are also specialist schools; what arrangements are in place for pupils who fail the entry tests to these schools to be able to attend a school with a similar specialism; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Miliband: 98 of the 1,686 designated specialist schools are selective grammar schools. On the basis of the latest collated information, 40 specialist schools have chosen to select a proportion of their pupils by aptitude.
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The admissions process for specialist schools is the same as for all other maintained schools. Applicants must be considered against the school's published admission arrangements, including, where applicable, selection.
If a parent is refused a place for their child because the child fails an entry test to a selective maintained school, they have the right to appeal against that decision to an independent appeal panel.
Local education authorities have a duty to ensure that they provide sufficient schools for the children living in their area who need one. There is no duty to provide schools with a particular specialism.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether the Government's figures for the cost of student loan subsidies include an element for (a) administration and (b) bad debt. 
Alan Johnson: The Government's figures for the cost of student loan subsidies do include a provision for bad debt and for loans not recovered from borrowers meeting the criteria for cancellation of the outstanding debt. The costs for administering student loans is not included but are accounted for separately and, are recorded annually in the Departmental Report.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many one-and two-parent households will be eligible for the maximum combined up-front university grant for academic year 2006/07. 
Alan Johnson: We expect around 30 per cent. of students will be eligible for a full combined grant of £2,700 in 2006/07, of which we expect around two thirds to be dependent students (who may be from one or two-parent households). Future numbers and proportions of students receiving grants will depend on changes in demand for higher education.
Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many former students have outstanding loan accounts; how many of these are being repaid; how many are not being repaid because of the low income of the borrower; and what factors, apart from income, are taken into account when repayment is demanded. 
Alan Johnson: Most borrowers who started their course from the 1998/99 academic year will repay income-contingent loans. Loans for those who started their course before 1998/99 are repayable on a mortgage-style basis. There are differences in the repayment terms for the two types of loan.
Borrowers enter repayment status in the April following graduation or otherwise upon leaving their course. There were 1,492,000 student loan borrowers in the United Kingdom in repayment status at the end of the end of the financial year 200203. Of these, some 815,000 borrowers had mortgage-style accounts that were up to date with repayments, or income-contingent accounts which are repaid through the tax system.
23 Feb 2004 : Column 210W
Some 559,000 borrowers who had mortgage-style loan accounts which they were liable to repay had been granted deferment because their income was below the threshold (£21,022 per annum from 1 September 2002, £21,364 from 1 September 2003).
No repayments are collected from income-contingent borrowers whose income falls below £10,000 per annum. Repayments of income-contingent loans are collected through the tax system and are notified to the Student Loans Company after the end of the tax year for reconciliation with their records. Therefore the data on the number of borrowers with income-contingent loans, where repayments have not been deducted because the borrower's income is below the repayment threshold, are not yet available.
The income-contingent loan repayment system takes into account whether the borrower is in receipt of disability related benefits, and whether they are covered by the Repayment of Teacher Loans scheme. Loans are cancelled: when the borrower reaches 65 years of age; if the borrower is in receipt of a disability related benefit and is permanently unfit for work; or if the borrower dies.
The mortgage-style loan repayment system takes into account whether the borrower is in receipt of disability related benefits; whether they are covered by the Repayment of Teacher Loans scheme; and the number of loans taken out. Loans are cancelled: after 25 years or when the borrower reaches the age of 50 (60 if the borrower was aged over 40 when he/she last borrowed), whichever is the earlier; if the borrower is in receipt of a disability related benefit and is permanently unfit for work; or if the borrower dies.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of what the cost of providing maintenance loans to students from 2006/07 would be (a) under existing arrangements and (b) under the proposals in the Higher Education Bill. 
Alan Johnson: The Department's future spending plans on maintenance loans under existing arrangements and under the proposals in the Higher Education Bill will depend on the outcome of Spending Review 2004.
As stated in the Regulatory Impact Assessment published on 8 January, the resource cost 1 of raising the maximum rate of maintenance loan to match the basic living costs expenditure of the mid-range student is estimated at £65 million in 2006/07 terms. This is the resource cost to the Government of both the additional amount of maintenance loan advanced and the resulting impact on the repayments of fee loans.
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