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13 Dec 2004 : Column 833W—continued

International Student Assessment Study

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to his answer of 30 November 2004, Official Report, column 54W, on the International Student Assessment Study, for what reason an assurance
 
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of confidentiality was given to schools invited to co-operate with the OECD PISA study before they decided whether to co-operate. [204012]

Mr. Miliband: The National Statistics Code of Practice Protocol on Data Access and Confidentiality, paragraph 2a states:

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the reasons for schools' failure to respond to the OECD PISA survey. [204013]

Mr. Miliband: Administering the PISA tests and questionnaires is a significant undertaking by schools, and the PISA fieldwork takes place at an important time in the school calendar. I can therefore understand that it is not always a straightforward decision for schools to participate in PISA, and that it is their right to refuse if they wish to. The burden of PISA for schools is an inescapable part of them participating in the study, but we will need to make sure we fully recognise and take account of the difficulties schools face as we plan for PISA 2006.

Learning and Skills Council

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, what the (a) recurrent and (b) non-recurrent expenditure of the Learning and Skills Council was in 2004–05; and what the estimates are for (i) 2005–06 and (ii) 2006–07. [204046]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council. Mark Haysom, the Council's Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member with this information and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Library.

Literacy/Numeracy

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of (a) Key Stage 2 pupils and (b) Key Stage 3 pupils have reached the required standards in both literacy and numeracy in each year since 1997, broken down by parliamentary constituency. [203526]

Mr. Miliband: The information requested is placed in the Library.

Figures for 2004 by parliamentary constituency are not yet available, but will be placed in the Library as soon as possible.

Ministerial Meetings

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list his official engagements over the past six months; who was present at each meeting; what the (a) date and (b) location was of each meeting; what issues were discussed; and what plans he has to establish a public register of such information. [202407]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: Ministers meet many individuals and organisations and attend many functions relating to Government business and as part of the process of policy
 
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development. To provide the detailed information requested would incur disproportionate cost. The daily on the record briefing by the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman regularly provides details of Ministers' public engagements.

Parenting Plan

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he expects the first Parenting Plan to be approved. [203942]

Margaret Hodge: The Government is currently revising the existing Parenting Plans material to include clear examples of good contact arrangements that work well for children of different ages and circumstances. The plans will be published and promoted widely, by April 2005.

The revised Parenting Plans will provide guidance for families about a range of co-operative parenting arrangements appropriate for families in differing circumstances. They are intended to be used as practical aids, both by parents themselves as well as by solicitors, conciliators and mediators, to assist parents to reach reasonable agreements. They will seek to illustrate what the courts might well decide if the case went to a full hearing. The plans will be available at all points throughout the system—in solicitors' offices as well as through advice and mediation services.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many written questions for his Department were unanswered when Parliament prorogued; and how many of the unanswered questions were tabled in each of the previous months of the 2003–04 Session. [201543]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: There were no unanswered written questions for this Department when Parliament prorogued.

Pay Bargaining Unit

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many times the appraisal system for each pay bargaining unit in his Department has been changed in the last five years; and how many staff are fully or partly employed in connection with pay negotiations in each pay bargaining unit, broken down by grade. [200347]

Mr. Charles Clarke: My Department reviews its appraisal systems annually and makes changes as appropriate in line with central rules regarding appraisal as set out in Chapter 6 of the Civil Service Management Code. Small changes to simplify the system have been introduced over the last five years. The current appraisal system was introduced in April 2004.

My Department has one pay bargaining unit with one Grade 7 and one Higher Executive Officer partly employed on pay negotiations. Final negotiating meetings are chaired at Grade 6 or SCS level after the main negotiations are completed. My Department concluded its 3 years pay deal in October 2003.
 
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Pupil Referral Units

Mr. Phil Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, how much is being spent on pupil referral units in 2004–05; and what plans he has for (a) creating more pupil referral units and (b) increasing capacity at existing ones. [202911]

Mr. Miliband: The expected spend by Local Education Authorities on Pupil Referral Units in 2004/05 is £198,460,713.

The number of PRU places has risen substantially since 1997. In January 1997 there were 7,530 pupils in PRUs compared to 13,040 in January 2004. The number of PRUs has also risen—there are now more than 440 PRUs compared to only 309 in January 1997.

LEAs have the power and funding to set up or expand the Pupil Referral Units that they need. We expect them to keep this under review and to use the guidance my Department will be issuing shortly to ensure sufficient good quality provision exists.

Special Advisers

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many appeals were made by civil servants to the Civil Service Commissioners regarding special advisers in his Department between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004; and when each appeal was lodged. [201364]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 8 December 2004, Official Report, column 578W.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the attributable interviews that his Department's special advisers gave to (a) newspapers, (b) journals, (c) books and (d) other media in their official capacity between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004. [201430]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The Department for Education and Skill's special advisers have not had any interviews attributed to them in their official capacity between March 2003 and March 2004. All special advisers' contacts with the media are conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Special Advisers.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, whether departmental special advisers have attended meetings with external (a) bodies and (b) individuals, in their official capacity and without Ministers, since May 1997. [203449]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Special Advisers hold meetings with a wide range of external representatives in their official capacity. All such meetings are conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether departmental special advisers have made speeches in their official capacity since May 1997. [203509]


 
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Mr. Charles Clarke: Any speeches made by special advisers in an official capacity are conducted in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.


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