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Mr. Hopkins: May I take my hon. Friend back to his comments about diet? He is visibly one of the healthiest Members in the House, so I am sure that he is interested in recent research showing the impact of pupils' diets on their behaviour in school. Such things as the additives in drinks can affect behaviour, so will he urge our hon. Friends the Ministers to ensure that pupils' diets in schools are appropriate and help them to behave better?

Mr. Reed: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. There is a lot of research showing that not only diet, but health, has such an effect. My son walks to school with us every day. We live at the other end of the village and the walk takes 20 minutes. Research demonstrates clearly that physical activity in the morning has an effect throughout the day. One might have thought that children who were physically active at school came home tired, but research shows that if an activity is combined with a healthy and nutritional diet, their ability to learn throughout the day is lifted and that is maintained after school. When such children leave school, they are thus still physically active and able to play.

Although this matter is not covered by the Bill, an amendment relating to it was moved in the House of Lords. I would like the amount of training in physical education given to primary school teachers, especially, to increase. Primary school teachers receive an average of seven or eight hours' such training during their course. Many of us who are interested in sport and physical activity would like the amount of such training to increase to 30 hours, as the amendment would have provided, because physical education is a key area in which we need to generate primary school pupils' interest. Teachers often lack confidence in delivering physical education because of a lack of training, but if there were sufficient training, children's activity rates could be increased at an early age, to help them to continue such activity throughout their time at school.

Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): May I take my hon. Friend back to the intervention made by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Hopkins) on diet and school meals? Schools in my constituency are currently subjected to the Jamie Oliver treatment, because Greenwich schools feature in his Channel 4 programme. He has been able to demonstrate clearly that the standard
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of school meals has declined considerably over time under compulsory competitive tendering. He was also able to demonstrate that the diets of children at home are crucial, so we should not forget that. I encourage Jamie Oliver to take on supermarkets about the foods that they encourage parents to buy for children as well, because the problem does not begin and end at the school gate.

Mr. Reed: I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. I was a sponsor of the private Member's Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Stourbridge (Ms Shipley) on food advertising, especially that directed at children under 12. My licence fee to the BBC is worth while for CBeebies and CBBC alone, because I think that it was nearly five and a half years before my son saw an advert and started clamouring for things. The fact that BBC broadcasting is free of advertising makes an enormous difference. I would like some control of the products that supermarkets are able to sell and the activities that they may carry out.

The Government document on increasing physical activity and tackling our nutritional problems that was published last week is one of the most important that we have seen, but unfortunately it was slightly lost due to the coverage of what was happening in the Chamber. My hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) is right to say that there is little point addressing children's school meals at lunchtime if they go home and eat meals high in fat, salt and sugar in the evening. Diet is important in general, not only an aspect of schooling. As my hon. Friend knows, this country's obesity levels are increasing greatly.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. This is an interesting discussion, but I think that we are departing from the terms of the Bill.

Mr. Reed: I am grateful for your stricture, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall not be led astray by my hon. Friends.

I wanted to link what I was saying to an important point about the inspection of schools that came out of this morning's discussion. The matter has also been considered by the Health Committee. We are clear about what we know about children's educational and academic attainment through inspection, but we do not know enough about the physical activity that they are undertaking. I would like the opportunity to discuss the matter in Committee, because I would welcome the return of something along the lines of the health check. It would not be like the traditional health check that we lost 20 years ago, but a way of examining children's health by measuring their body mass index, and perhaps other aspects of their health.

The main aspects of the Bill that I want to talk about are the inspection and finance regimes. I know from being a governor about the work and stress caused by the current inspection system, and I am sure that all hon. Members in the Chamber are aware of that. I was a governor of Sileby Highgate school in 1997 and we had an inspection several months after I was elected to the House. The whole regime seemed to revolve around ensuring that all the paperwork was in the right place to demonstrate that the paperwork was in the right place,
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rather than showing what the school was like on an average day. Since the inspection in 1997, I have argued for something along the lines of the system proposed in the Bill. Most teachers to whom I have spoken would prefer such a system. Shorter, sharper and more frequent inspections would be appropriate—but to go a little further, perhaps there should be no notice of when inspections will occur, especially if they are short. The preparation period for an inspection seems to be the most stressful time, because people have to try to ensure that everything is in place.

I agreed with the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr.   Francois) when he talked about the number of plans and other documents that must be in place for an inspection. The walls of staff rooms tend to be covered with plans and documents, but one must wonder when they were last taken down from the shelf and referred to. I am sure that good teachers and heads read them regularly and know them off by heart, but to be realistic, I worry that the fact that there are so many such documents causes extra strain and pressure for teachers, because they must ensure that they are up to date.

Mr. Francois: It was good of the hon. Gentleman to amplify the point that I made earlier, which shows that hon. Members on both sides of the House encounter such problems in their schools, and I was not making a partisan point. Does he agree that teachers, and especially heads, find it annoying that they spend a great deal of time producing those plans, but seldom get much feedback on them? They are not sure that the documents have even been read by the people to whom they send them.

Mr. Reed: I agree with the hon. Gentleman. When I go into schools, the heads are usually proud to show me their in-trays and the number of circulars that they have received that week alone. I show them a photo on my phone of the daily post that I receive here, so that I can say, "Snap." Both heads and Members experience information overload, so we probably know how heads feel.

A further problem is how the standards fund and other funding streams for schools require an application process, which causes a great deal of concern. Schools that are good at applying and have been successful do not mind putting in bids, but schools with a history of being unsuccessful stay outside the regime—they do not want to keep applying. Even where large sums are available—I am thinking of the New Opportunities Fund round of funding for school sports facilities—many schools have been put off making an application. By simplifying the process, we could give schools that do not normally apply—perhaps because they have been rejected a couple of times and have become discouraged—the feeling that they are part of the system, and the confidence to apply in future.

The big problem, as my hon. Friend the Minister knows—and will learn more about later during the Adjournment debate—is the funding mechanism. On    17 February, the Department circulated a consultation document on the new school funding arrangements. I am grateful for what it contains. The Bill provides for technical changes to implement one of its positive measures—three-year funding guaranteed in advance. Everyone involved in school financial planning
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knows that among the greatest difficulties are being unable to plan more than a year or two ahead, not knowing pupil numbers, and not knowing what is likely to happen. Three-year planning would make an enormous difference, and is to be welcomed. The document also mentions ring-fenced grants for schools via local authorities, which is also welcome, and the new single standards grant. The latter addresses the problem that I mentioned earlier by simplifying and streamlining the process of applying for the standards-related funding streams for schools. It will make an enormous difference.

None the less, in Leicestershire the problem of the funding formula remains. I shall not bore my hon. Friend the Minister with the details, because he will have to listen to them again later, but in Leicestershire the school funding formula causes enormous problems because of the way in which it operates and the weighting given to the various elements of the regime. The Bill and the consultation document rightly suggest that the current formula has improved the transparency of the process, but it does not go far enough in terms of adjusting the weightings. The formula is only a part of the overall funding for education in Leicestershire. We welcome the extra capital funding that has come to our area; the figure used to be £2 million a year, but is now running at £32 million a year. That has made an enormous difference.

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