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Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures her Department has introduced to increase the efficiency of the system for dealing with allegations of abuse against teachers. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: In 2001, following concerns about the length of time taken to deal with allegations, my Department established a network of 25 co-ordinators, each responsible for a cluster of LEAs, located within existing police force boundaries. The co-ordinators' priority is to negotiate and agree arrangements to speed up the handling of allegations of abuse against teachers and other school-based staff, but they also have a strategic role in this area and in relation to child protection procedures generally.
In addition my officials have worked closely with the National Employers Organisation for School Teachers (NEOST) and the teacher unions to revise and update the Joint NEOST/Teacher Union Guidance on Education Staff and Child Protection: Staff Facing an Allegation of Abuse" and that updated guidance was published and distributed by NEOST and the teacher organisations in September 2002.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department is taking to ensure that teachers are protected from false allegations of abuse by pupils. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg:
My Department is currently consulting on an improved process for handling allegations against teachers and other school-based staff. The proposals include target timescales; local panels for schools to use to carry out independent
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disciplinary investigations; new procedures to improve the management of cases and liaison between schools, local authorities, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and other agencies to ensure that cases are dealt with quickly, fairly and consistently. It also takes account of advice by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) that anyone under investigation should not be named until they are charged with an offence.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of the guidelines for protecting teachers accused of abuse by pupils. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: My officials are closely involved in monitoring the effectiveness of the current arrangements for handling allegations of abuse against teachers. The current guidelines for staff facing allegations of abuse were produced by the National Employers Organisation for School Teachers (NEOST) and the teacher unions, with the involvement of my officials. The national network of Investigation Referral Support Co-ordinators, which is funded by my Department, is responsible for improving practice and procedure in dealing with allegations and has also produced guidance on this issue.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) teachers and (b) teaching assistants there were in each local education authority in Greater London in each of the last seven years. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: The information requested has been published in the Statistics of Education School Workforce in England Volume, 2004 edition published on 27 January 2005, a copy of which will be placed in the House of Commons Library. Annex table A2 gives the number of teachers in service in each local education authority and table A9 the number of teaching assistants. The publication is also available at the following URL: www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgatewav/DB/VOL/v000554/index.shtml
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teachers there were in North Durham in (a) 1997, (b) 2001 and (c) the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: The following table shows the full time equivalent number of regular teachers employed in maintained nursery, primary, secondary and maintained and non-maintained special schools in North Durham constituency in January 1997, 2001 and 2004, the latest information available.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her policy is on the charging of top-up fees to students who leave school in 2005 and take a gap year, but change the course that they will be taking during that gap year. 
Dr. Howells: In order to qualify for the statutory exemption from higher variable fees from 2006/07, a student taking a gap year in 2005/06 must have received an offer of a place on a university course by 1 August 2005. If they change their mind about the course they want to do, whether they will be charged higher variable fees will depend on whether the subject matter of the course to which they wish to change is largely the same as the course for which they originally applied. If the university considers that the subject matter of the new course is essentially the same as the one for which the student originally applied they will continue to qualify for the statutory exemption. If they do not consider this to be so, the student will no longer qualify.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what funding her Department has provided for (a) teaching, (b) research and (c) staff development since 199697 for (i) Newcastle and (ii)Northumbria universities. 
|Recurrent funds for teaching|
|Funds for rewarding and developing staff(15)|
|Recurrent funds for teaching|
|Funds for rewarding and developing staff(15)|
Mr. Gareth Thomas: There is strong political will, both within the Indian Ocean region and internationally, to establish a tsunami Early Warning System in the Indian Ocean. This will involve countries in South East Asia and around the Indian Ocean working together to produce a workable and well co-ordinated system, building on those components already in place. The immediate need is for the countries in the region to determine the nature and organisation of the system they want.
A recent meeting organised by the Thai Government in Phuket reached a strong consensus on some important features of an early warning system for the region. It should: be designed and owned by countries in the region; build on mechanisms that already exist; and warn against multiple hazards, such as tropical storms and storm surges as well as tsunamis. It was also agreed that the UN should co-ordinate the development of the system and that investment should focus, not just on highly technical solutions, but on educating, and communicating any warning to, coastal communities.
The UK stands ready, if needed, to provide support to an early warning system once countries of the region have made progress on the design of a system. However, if there are other donors willing to provide all the finance neededas looks likelythe UK is also willing to step aside and focus its resources on other equally important but less well funded measures to reduce the impact of disasters. Chief among these is the need to help developing countries of the region build on and enhance their own capacity to manage and reduce their risk to disasters.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support he plans to give to allow farmers in places affected by the tsunami to start farming again, and in particular to begin re-stocking. 
Mr. Gareth Thomas: Farmers have been badly affected by the tsunami and DFID is committed to rebuilding their livelihoods. Of the £75 million allocation for emergency relief and first stage recovery, about 20 per cent. has been earmarked for immediate support to rebuilding farming and fishing communities' livelihoods through relevant UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGO's). I am conscious of the need to build on local capacity through encouraging targeted regeneration of local agricultural systems. I recognise the need to reach as many affected people from the region as possible and to enable them to return to productive work.
In Indonesia, we shall provide funds through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to co-ordinate a broad-based livelihood recovery programme in rural areas of Aceh. This will include, among other initiatives, small grants to farmers, which will be disbursed by local organisations working with them. The grants are designed to be flexible and respond to
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needs, which for many, will involve restocking. We support a similar strategy for Sri Lanka and the Maldives through a regional programme led by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
International NGO's are, on the whole, well funded, but we add support where there are clear needs. In southern India and Sri Lanka, for instance, we have recently approved five projects that will provide immediate support to affected communities totalling approximately £1.8 million. These projects include livelihood recovery activities and focus on the needs of fishing communities, farmers, agricultural workers and other livelihood groups. One of these projects includes land reclamation and desalination activities.
As for our contribution to long-term recovery, we intend to respond to needs assessed by competent agencies and to fund requests by affected countries, in partnership with other donors, the UN and the International banks, namely the World Bank and Asian Development bank.
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