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Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will set out, with statistical evidence relating as closely as possible to Tamworth constituency, the effects on the constituency of changes to her Department's policies since 1997. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: The Tamworth constituency lies within Staffordshire local education authority. The most recent Key Stage 2 and GCSE and equivalents Achievement for pupils attending schools in Tamworth are given in the following tables:
|1997||2004||Percentage point improvement 19972004|
|Percentage of 15-year-olds gaining||1997||2004||Percentage point improvement 19972004|
At national level, standards have improved across all key stages. The Primary and Key Stage 3 National Strategies, together with the measures we have taken to help schools in the toughest areas are continuing to deliver better results.
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Further information by constituency, is provided within the Department's 'In Your Area' website available at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/inyourarea. Where information is not available at the constituency level it has been provided at local education authority level.
This website allows users to access key facts and local information about education and skills based on postcodes. The data available within the site offers comparisons between 1997 and the latest available year and covers five geographies. These are parliamentary constituency, ward, local authority district, local education authority and Government office region. England figures are also provided.
The information available within the website is grouped in a number of broad categories including Literacy and Numeracy at age 11, Literacy and Numeracy at age 14, GCSE/GNVQ results, Pupils with Special Educational Needs, School Initiatives, School Workforce, School Funding and Resources, Children's Social Services, Early Years, Class Sizes, Post 16, Higher Education and Adult Education
Additional information could be provided only at disproportionate cost, However, my Department is investigating ways in which we can disseminate more information about the effects of our policies at a local level. The In Your Area website will be further developed over the coming months to include additional information about Adult Education, School Funding, School Initiatives, School Performance, School Workforce and Post 16.
Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance she has issued to local education authorities regarding provision in schools for gifted and talented pupils. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg:
We have made clear our expectation that schools and local authorities will make appropriate provision for gifted and talented pupils. There is a range of guidance available to local authorities from the Department, the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth and other partners in the national programme for gifted and talented education. The Department has produced a framework that authorities
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and schools are invited to follow when specifying whattheir programmes will achieve (see http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/giftedandtalented/guidanceandtraining/outcomemeasures/). A self-evaluation instrument, currently being trialled, will help schools to adjust their practice to best meet gifted and talented pupils' needs.
Mr. Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on her Department's assessment of the average cost of providing one higher education place (a) in March 2005 and (b) in each year from 200506 to 201011. 
Dr. Howells: This Government have pledged to maintain in real terms funding to support the costs of educating higher education students over the next three years, so that income that may be raised from variable tuition fees will be additional to normal Government funding. Real terms funding per student will not fall below the planned 200506 level of £3,490 1 at 200304 prices. Funding for 200809 and beyond will be considered as part of the 2006 Spending Review.
1 Real terms unit of funding for teaching, as set out in 2004 Grant Letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England. This figure relates to full-time equivalent Home and EU-domiciled students studying at English institutions.
Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 18 March 2005]: UK online centres were established to bridge the gap between those in society who have access to ICT and the internet and those who do not. Between 1999 and 2003 a total of £396 million was invested to set up the centres. There are now 6,000 UK online centres in England, and people over 60 are one of the five main groups in the target audience for UK online centres.
In addition, an e-government pathfinder project, led by DfES in conjunction with Ufi aimed to test the potential of UK online centres to support e-government service delivery. One pathfinder focused on services for older people, working with Age Concern, to provide
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access to a range of Government services. The Department and Ufi are currently considering the findings of the evaluation of these pathfinders.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the ownership composition is of the special purpose vehicle responsible for delivering the private finance initiative contract relating to Wirral schools. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: The ownership composition of the special purpose vehicle for the Wirral schools PFI project is Barclays Equity, 50 per cent., and the Secondary Market Infrastructure Fund (SMIF), 50 per cent. This information is based on data supplied by Wirral metropolitan borough council.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures her Department has introduced to ensure the recruitment and retention of teaching staff in the outer London boroughs. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: We are committed to improving recruitment and retention of teachers. Nationally, there are around 29,000 more qualified teachers working in schools than there were in 1997. We have put in place nationally a number of incentives to attract and retain teachers, including PGCE bursaries of up to £6,000 and Golden Hellos" of up to £4,000 in certain subjects. The Teacher Training Agency supports the cost of Recruitment Managers in local education authorities. Every outer London borough has received funding for the last four years and will continue to be supported for the next two years.
Vacancy rates are falling faster in London than in the rest of the country but remain twice the national rate. We therefore continue to take additional steps to recruit and retain teachers in London, including outer London. As part of the London Challenge, which the Prime Minister launched in May 2003, we introduced Chartered London Teacher status. This recognises and rewards the distinctive skills and expertise demonstrated by teachers in outer and inner London and provides incentives for good teachers to stay teaching in London. We are also aware that the cost of housing is a factor in teachers' decisions about where to live and work. With the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, we have introduced interest-free equity loans to help teachers in London schools buy homes. The Key Teacher Homebuy scheme, which is only available to school teachers in London, offers loans of up to £100,000 for teachers willing to commit to a long-term career working in London schools.
We have established a separate pay scale for teachers in outer London. Starting salaries for teachers in outer London will increase from £20,862 in April 2004 to £21,384 in April 2005 and £22,002 in September 2005. Schools retain the discretion to make such payments or other financial assistance, support or benefits to a teacher as they consider necessary as an incentive for the recruitment of new teachers or the retention of existing teachers.
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