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Private Children's Homes (Inspections)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what his Department's target is for the percentage of (a) announced and (b) unannounced inspections of private children's homes which should be undertaken by the Commission for Social Care Inspectorate. [185526]

Margaret Hodge: The frequency of inspections for children's homes regulated by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) is set out in The Commission for Social Care Inspection (Fees and Frequency of Inspections) Regulations. The Regulations require CSCI to inspect children's homes a minimum of twice in a 12 month period. Each of these inspections may be unannounced, however, general practice by CSCI Inspectors is to perform one announced inspection and one unannounced inspection in a 12 month period. These are minimum requirements and do not preclude CSCI visiting any number of times if there is cause for concern.

Regional Employment and Skills

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much has been spent on the (a) Regional Skills Partnerships and (b) Regional Employment and Skills forums since their inception. [185773]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: No additional central funding has been made available for either Regional Skills Partnerships or Regional Employment and Skills Forums.

The creation of (a) effective Regional Skills Partnerships and (b) Regional Employment and Skills Forums was funded from within the existing budgets of partner organisations.

School Choices

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children in (a) Adur,
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(b) Worthing and (c) West Sussex failed to get into the school of their first choice in each year since 1997; and how many of those subsequently appealed in each of those years. [185784]

Mr. Miliband: Information on the number of pupils admitted to their first choice school is not collected centrally.

Admission appeal data are not available at parliamentary constituency level. A table giving admission appeal information for all local education authority areas has been placed in the House of Commons Library (Official Report column 1430W on 23 June 2004). Final figures from 1997/98 to 2001/02 have been provided. Further details on the latest 2002/03 (provisional) figures on admission appeals by local education authority can be found on

School Furniture

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (a) assessment his Department has made and (b) guidance he has issued on the ergonomics of school furniture. [186145]

Mr. Miliband: In 2001 my Department oversaw and part-funded the largest data collection of children's sizes since the 1950's, and contributed to a European Standard on School Furniture (due at the end of this year) to allow children to be better "fitted" to several furniture size marks. An interactive website is being prepared which will enable specifiers to accurately determine the size of furniture that a child should be using. Published in 2000, my Department's Furniture and Equipment Guide has detailed section on design quality with ergonomic considerations for various types of adjustable furniture. The Department is represented on relevant BSI committees and works closely with, amongst others the British Educational Supplies Association, the furniture Industry Research Association and the Design Council on furniture issues.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research his Department has commissioned into the impact on children's long term health of poorly designed school furniture. [186146]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: My Department has neither undertaken nor commissioned research into the effects on children's health of poorly designed furniture, but is aware of a number of studies carried out by others on issues such back pain. We are advised that the main cause of such problems is often the use of inappropriately sized furniture rather than poor design.

School Staff (Tamworth)

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) teachers and (b) education support staff there were in Tamworth constituency in each year since 1992. [185832]

Mr. Miliband: The following table gives the full-time equivalent number of regular teachers and support staff employed in maintained sector schools in Tamworth constituency for each year from 1997 to 2003, the latest year available. Data are not available at constituency level prior to 1997.
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TeachersSupport staff 1

(47) Includes teaching assistants, administrative staff, technicians, medical and other child care and education support staff.
Annual School Census

School Teachers (Retirement)

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the effects of the Government's proposals in the Pensions Bill on the future retirement of school teachers. [186289]

Mr. Miliband: In line with proposals in the Pensions Bill, the normal pension age in the Teachers' Pension Scheme will be increased to 65. This will apply to new entrants from 2006 and to the future service of existing teachers from 2013. Teachers will, however, still be able to retire at, before or after age 60 as they do now. Where pension benefits are drawn earlier than the normal pension age, they will be reduced to reflect the fact that the benefits will be in payment for longer.

We are also looking at ways of offering teachers more flexibility in the way they manage the transition from work to retirement as well as examining the scope for increasing the options for teachers who wish to build up higher pension benefits by paying additional contributions during their working life.

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment has been made by his Department of the changes that will take place in the terms and conditions of the Teacher's Pensions Scheme with the introduction of the Government's new pension proposals; and if he will make a statement. [186290]

Mr. Miliband: As part of a package of changes to the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) relating to the increase in the normal pension age (NPA) from 60 to 65, consideration is being given to a number of changes that will improve scheme benefits, increase flexibility and offer greater retirement options for teachers. Suggestions for change to the TPS are included on the TeacherNet website which will form the basis of a consultation planned to take place during the Autumn term 2004. One of the priorities that has been recognised is the introduction of pension benefits for unmarried partners. It is expected that the introduction of NPA of 65 will enable this improvement to be introduced without an increase in the contribution to the TPS made by individual teachers.

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions his Department has had with teachers' unions on the impact of the Government's pension proposals; and if he will make a statement. [186291]

Mr. Miliband: Teachers' Unions, are fully and actively involved in the review of the Teachers' Pension Scheme through their membership of the Teachers'
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Superannuation Working Party (TSWP) and its sub-group, the Teachers' Pensions Review Group (TPRG), that is taking forward the detailed work on the scheme review. The TPRG has met on five separate occasions during 2004 and the TSWP met on 13 October 2003 and 29 June 2004. Further meetings will take place with the teacher unions throughout the remainder of the scheme review.

Student Debt

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate his Department has made of the amount of debt a student graduating in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006 will have. [183643]

Alan Johnson: Information on the total amount of debt on leaving higher education, including private sector debt, is not collected annually, although we do estimate it in successive student income and expenditure surveys. It will depend on a wide range of factors, including: whether an individual takes out a Government student loan; how much student loan they are eligible for; how many years they spend in HE over which to amass their debt; whether they take out any commercial debt or build up overdrafts; and whether they have any loans from family or friends. The latest 2002/3 Student Income and Expenditure Survey showed that students graduating in 2003 anticipated leaving with an average total debt of £8,666. During the passage of the Higher Education Act through Parliament we estimated that this might rise to an average debt of about £15,000, once students paying variable fees have graduated. The 2004/5 Student Income and Expenditure Survey—which is expected to report in early 2005—will provide an estimate of total debt on leaving HE for those graduating in 2004.

Individuals with government student loans leaving higher education in 2004—whether on course completion or withdrawal—will enter repayment status in April 2005. The average income-contingent student loan debt to government, for full-time students entering repayment status in April 2005, is estimated at around £7,700. Estimates for those entering repayment in April 2006 and 2007 are, respectively, around £8,000 and £9,000. Figures are reported in nominal prices including inflation.

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