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Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms are used to monitor academy schools; by whom they are inspected; and what sanctions can be applied to them. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: All Academies receive a monitoring inspection visit from HMI before they are inspected under section 3, deemed 10 arrangements when there is published inspection report. All Academies are inspected within three years of opening, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Academies, like all schools, will be subject to the new national inspection arrangements from September 2005.
The Secretary of State can intervene where an academy is in breach of its funding agreement or where she has concerns about its management or performance. These interventions include appointing additional governors to the governing body, withholding payments to the Academy, appointing auditors or, if necessary by terminating the funding agreement.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which section within her Department is responsible for academy schools; how many staff are involved; and how many are (a) civil servants and (b) external staff. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: Academies Division within the Department is responsible for Academies. There are currently 70 staff in the Academies Division of whom 45 are civil servants and 25 are external staff. Other staff within the Department also work for some of their time on the Academies Programme, including staff dealing with financial and legal issues and architectural advisers.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has further to subsidise child care places in nurseries in (a) deprived areas and (b) areas where parents have low incomes; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: The 10-Year Childcare Strategy, published in December 2004, set out the Government's vision for every child to have the best start in life and for parents to have more choice about how to balance work and family life.
Our long-term aim is for affordable, flexible, high quality child care to be available for all families with children under 14. We are making substantial additional investment in early years and child care over the next three years: the Sure Start budget will more than double from this year to 200708. This includes a new Transformation Fund of £125 million a year from 200607, which will support investment in high quality, affordable and sustainable child care.
Parents on low and middle incomes will continue to have their child care costs subsidised through tax credits. From April 2005 the maximum child care element of the working tax credit will increase from £135
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to £175 for one child and from £200 to £300 for two or more children. Eligible parents will be able to claim up to 70 per cent. of these limits; this will increase to 80 per cent. from April 2006. These changes should benefit 20,000 families straight away and many more over time.
From 2006 the 12.5 hour free entitlement to early education for 33 weeks per year will extended to cover 38 weeks a year for all three and fouryear-olds. From 2007 the free entitlement will begin to increase to 15 hours per week with all children receiving 15 hours by 2010, as a step towards a goal of 20 hours per week. Parents will have the flexibility to use the free entitlement across a minimum of three days. In addition, we will pilot an extension of free, part time early education to 12,000 two-year-olds in disadvantaged areas by 2008.
We will establish 2,500 children's centres by 2008, and all young children and their families in the most disadvantaged areas will have access to the high quality integrated services children's centres provide. The 10-Year Strategy sets out a commitment to 3,500 centres by 2010one in every community.
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In London, from next year, my Department will be working with the Greater London Authority to test a range of approaches aimed at improving the accessibility and affordability of good quality child care for parents on lower incomes through supply side subsidy. These pilots should benefit more than 10,000 families.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many free (a) nursery and (b) pre-school places were available for (i) three and (ii) four-years-olds in the North Somerset education authority in each of the last seven years. 
Margaret Hodge: All four-year-olds in England have been entitled to a free part-time early education place since September 1998. All three-year-olds in England have been entitled to a free part-time early education place since April 2004.
|Maintained primary schools||Maintained primary schools|
|Maintained nursery schools||Nursery classes||Other classes(11)||Total||Maintained nursery schools||Nursery classes||Other classes(11)||Total|
|Maintained nursery and primary schools(14)||Other maintained and private, voluntary and independent providers||Total||Maintained nursery and primary schools(15)||Other maintained and private, voluntary and independent providers||Total|
The latest figures on early education places for three and four-year-olds in England were published in Statistical First Release 39/2004 "Provision for children under five years of age in EnglandJanuary 2004 (final)", which is available on the Department's website www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/.
Margaret Hodge: The Government are committed to supporting the provision of child care in schools as part of the wider extended schools initiative in England. Decisions about the provision of child care in Northern Ireland are made by the Northern Ireland Assembly. In the financial year 200506 my Department will be making available just over £107 million to support the development of extended schools, including school based child care. In later years we will provide further funding to support the development of school based child care. An announcement will be made in due course.
In addition to this £14 million from the Young People's Fund element of the Big Lottery Fund has been made available to 78 local authorities over three years from 200405 to support the development of extended schools across their areas.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will include in the forthcoming Education Bill a statutory duty on local authorities to secure sufficient child care provision to meet local needs. 
Margaret Hodge: The 10-year strategy for child care "Choice for parents, the best possible start for children" published on 2 December included the commitment to legislate to place a new duty on local authorities so that over time they will secure sufficient supply of child care places to meet the needs of local families. Local authorities are already key agents for co-ordinating, supporting and delivering child care services and there is a need to confirm the important role they play and clarify their responsibilities in this area. Consultation on the 10 year strategy is due to conclude on 24 February and discussions will be held with local authorities and other stakeholders on the new duty during 2005, with a view to introducing legislation in a future parliamentary session.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (a) financial and (b) logistical support her Department plans to offer to existing providers of child care (i) to help to ensure their sustainability and (ii) to develop closer links and to align their services with schools. 
For 200406 £31 million of sustainability funding is available within the General Sure Start Grant to support child care providers in
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disadvantaged areas. In addition to this the £170 million Delivery Support Fund element of the Grant can also be used to support all providers experiencing sustainability problems, including pre-school and playgroups.
All existing child care providers can access the support of the dedicated Business Support Officer located within each local authority, for advice and guidance on financial issues and business planning for the future, to ensure long term sustainability.
As announced in our 10-Year Strategy, our long-term aim is for affordable, flexible, high quality child care to be available for all families with children under 14 (under 16 for children with special needs). We are making substantial additional investment in early years and child care over the next three years. This includes a new Transformation Fund of £125 million a year from April 2006, which will support investment in high quality, affordable and sustainable child care.
My Department is providing financial support for the development of extended schools, including the school age child care offer through local authorities. Funding will be used to provide support at school level to enable the delivery of a set of core services including school age child care. We realise that schools cannot deliver the child care offer on their own and we are encouraging them to work in partnership with voluntary and private sector providers and other schools to deliver child care. Local authorities will be able to advise schools of wider groups, agencies and services that are willing to work in partnership to develop extended services.
My Department is also providing logistical support. The Extended Schools Prospectus, which is due to be launched shortly, will set out the vision for extended schools, including child care to schools, local authorities, key stakeholders and the private and voluntary sector. It will draw on the practical experience of schools already delivering services, providing 'how to' advice and case studies on a range of issues, including working with local partners. The prospectus will be available on the teachernet website, so that it can be updated with new issues as they emerge (www.teachernet.gov.uk/extendedschools).
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