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17 Jan 2005 : Column 819W—continued

Departmental Publications

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to her answer of 10 January 2005 to question 207543 from the hon. Member for Fareham, how many pages there were in each of the publications sent to primary and secondary schools. [208962]

Derek Twigg: We strictly monitor and gatekeep the information that we automatically send to schools. Details of documents sent to schools in the period requested are detailed in Annex A.

The academic year 2002–03 saw a 50 per cent. reduction on the number of documents sent to all schools compared to the previous 2001–02 year.

Going forward, we have successfully piloted an online ordering system that will enable schools to choose what information they want from the Department and when. This will put schools in control of what they receive.

Devon School Budgets

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much funding will be allocated to Devon schools in 2005–06 to implement phase 3 of the National Agreement on Workforce Reform; and if she will have discussions with Devon teachers about the possible impact on school budgets. [209040]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The provisional local government funding settlement for 2005–06 was announced on 2 December 2004 and provided a good settlement for schools. All schools will receive at least the guaranteed per-pupil increases that we announced in July. The guarantee for secondary and special schools remains at 4 per cent. per pupil, but the guarantee for primary and nursery schools is higher at 5 per cent. per pupil. This is in recognition that these schools need extra support to implement the final phase of workforce reform from 1 September 2005, including guaranteed time for all teachers for planning, preparation and assessment
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activities. The package was welcomed by representatives of teachers, headteacher and support staff on the Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group.

To ensure that there is headroom above the guarantee all authorities will receive an increase in their School Formula Spending Share of at least 5.5 per cent. Devon's settlement for 2005–06 is significantly higher at 7 per cent. and Torbay will also receive a higher settlement of 6.5 per cent., giving both authorities greater flexibility to target resources at schools with particular pressures. Local education authorities have a great deal of freedom to decide how to allocate the available resources through their local funding formula. Therefore I think Devon teachers should press their case locally.

Entertainment Costs

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much has been spent on entertainment by his Department in each year since 1997, broken down by (a) food, (b) alcohol, (c) staff and (d) accommodation. [204349]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: All expenditure on official entertainment is made in accordance with departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting. The following table sets out such spending in £ thousand for DfES and its predecessor Department in the relevant years. It is not possible to split these figures into the elements requested. The figures exclude costs incurred as part of official events or formal meetings held to further departmental business.

Department for Education and EmploymentDepartment for Education
and Skills

Foreign Language Teachers

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to increase the number of teachers of modern foreign languages in (a) secondary and (b) primary schools; and if she will make a statement. [207933]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The Government's National Languages Strategy for England recognises the importance of developing a workforce to implement primary language learning. This year 580 places have been allocated for Primary Initial Teacher Training with a specialism in French, German, Spanish or Italian and we intend to expand the programme further next year to 725 places. In addition we allocate 50 primary MFL places a year to the Graduate Teacher Programme.
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In addition to training for new teachers, we plan to increase numbers through Continuing Professional Development courses for existing primary teachers and through the contribution of teaching assistants and foreign language assistants.

At secondary level we have no plans to increase the number of secondary modern foreign language teachers, given that demand will begin to fall, in line with falling pupil numbers.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to improve (a) modern foreign language (i) teaching standards and (ii) take-up and (b) the variety of modern foreign languages available in schools, with particular reference to (A) GCSE and (B) A-level courses; and if she will make a statement. [207934]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: Since the publication of the National Languages Strategy in December 2002, we have made much progress to improve teaching standards and take up of modern foreign languages in both primary and secondary schools.

At primary level, 19 local education authorities have taken up Key Stage 2 language pathfinder roles to develop ways of delivering primary languages; we are consulting on a draft framework for the teaching and learning of Key Stage 2 languages; we have recently committed £5 million to support primary language learning in 2005–06; and by the end of last year we had trained well over 1,000 new teachers with a modern foreign language specialism. In addition, many primary schools benefit from the resources and teaching expertise from their local specialist language college to support and deliver quality language learning programmes.

At secondary level, the Key Stage 3 National Strategy Modern Foreign Language programme, introduced into schools in 2003, is designed to contribute to the raising of standards in Modern Foreign Languages. The programme consists of a framework of objectives for teaching Modern Foreign Languages throughout Key Stage 3 and encourages teachers to draw on existing good practice and work together to become more effective so that pupils improve in what and how they learn. Since its introduction Ofsted have commented that the use of the framework has helped teaching and the approach it encourages is having a positive effect on the attitudes of pupils.

The changes to the statutory curriculum at Key Stage 4 were introduced to enable schools to offer more choice and flexibility to their pupils, facilitating the introduction of new types of learning—in particular more vocational approaches. The flexibility in the new curriculum creates space for students to pursue learning programmes that reflect their aspirations and needs as well as maintaining a strong grasp of the basics. In this new flexibility students have an entitlement to follow a course in Modern Foreign Languages.

The changes at Key Stage 4 should not impact on our able and enthusiastic linguists, who we expect will continue to study languages at GCSE, A-level and beyond. By introducing language learning at Key Stage 2 our ambition is that we engage pupils when we know they are more receptive, so that we maximise their
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potential for language learning and harness their enthusiasm in order that they continue to study languages during their secondary education and beyond.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority published guidance last year entitled "Modern Foreign Languages in the Key Stage 4 Curriculum" which provides detailed guidance for the provision of Modern Foreign Languages at Key Stage 4. It includes information on statutory requirements—including the range of languages schools can offer—qualifications and the different courses available. Schools must offer at least one course in an official language of the EU that leads to an approved qualification. Schools may, in addition, offer courses in any other foreign language(s).

To recognise the achievement of language learners of all ages, we are developing a new voluntary recognition scheme—The Languages Ladder. The scheme is currently being piloted in three languages and will be available to all schools in eight languages from September 2005.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teachers of modern foreign languages there were in secondary schools in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. [207935]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The following table shows the number of full-time foreign language teachers in maintained secondary schools as at November of 1996 and 2002. The figures are estimates based upon sample surveys that were carried out most recently in 1996 and 2002 only.

Secondary School Curriculum and Staffing Survey, 1996 and 2002

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will ensure equal status for A levels in minority ethnic community languages with European modern languages in university admissions criteria; and if she will make a statement. [207936]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: Higher education institutions are responsible for their own admissions policies and practices. Universities and colleges take into account a range of factors in determining the suitability of a particular applicant, and we have no evidence that, within that assessment, A level qualifications in minority ethnic community languages are considered to be of any less value than European modern languages.

The Government's position is that applicants, parents, teachers and other stakeholders should have confidence that higher education admissions systems are fair. The recently completed review of admissions led by Professor Steven Schwartz concluded that they are generally fair. Professor Schwartz has though set out a series of high level principles as a basis for fair admissions which we
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hope that all universities and colleges will take steps to adopt as they review and develop their own admissions policies, practices and systems.

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