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26 May 2005 : Column 204W—continued


Mr. Kidney: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he (a) has implemented and (b) proposes to implement to reduce the rate of VAT for home improvements relating to (i) energy conservation and (ii) installation of renewable energy technologies. [75]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government are committed to improving household efficiency as part of their programme to meet the Energy White Paper targets and see the use of economic instruments as an effective way to implement environmental policy.

Under agreements with our European partners that govern the VAT system, we can apply a reduced rate of VAT of no lower than 5 per cent. on goods and services from within a prescribed list in the Sixth VAT Directive (Annex H). To date the Government have applied a reduced rate of 5 per cent. to the contractual installation of energy-saving materials such as insulation materials, heating controls, solar panels and ground source heat pumps and to the grant funded installation of renewable source heating systems.

The Government also have a long-standing commitment to pursue an amendment to the Sixth VAT Directive to permit a reduced rate of VAT for the purchase of energy-saving materials for do-it-yourself installation and the purchase of energy efficient products. Negotiations on these changes are ongoing.


Antisocial Behaviour

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government is taking to tackle antisocial behaviour in schools. [315]

Jacqui Smith: The Government's Improving Behaviour and Attendance Programme plays a crucial part in the drive to reduce antisocial behaviour in schools. We have a range of measures in place to reduce truancy and poor behaviour and reinforce parental responsibility for their child's behaviour. They include in-school Learning Support Units, multi-agency Behaviour and Education Support Teams, key workers for children at risk of crime, police in schools, and positive activity programmes in the school holidays. The programme also includes training for all school staff in managing pupil behaviour and preventing violence, as part of the Secondary National Strategy and Primary pilot. And we are encouraging schools to begin working together in collaborations to jointly tackle behaviour and attendance issues, greatly reducing the problems of persistent truancy and disruptive behaviour through early intervention and shared resources.
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In addition, the Anti-social Behaviour Act, which came into force in February 2004, has introduced penalty notices and parenting contracts for truancy and parenting contracts and orders for bad behaviour in schools.

We also think it is important to tackle this through the school curriculum, where pupils learn about socially responsible behaviour as part of Citizenship education. And in primary schools, all pupils will soon have access to the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning materials, which we believe will contribute greatly to addressing the problems early and reducing antisocial behaviour both in and out of school.

Last week it was announced that a new Stakeholder Group, to be chaired by the Minister of State for Schools and 14–19 Learners, has been formed to establish a strong partnership between Government and key stakeholders in the area of discipline in schools; and an expert Practitioners group will advise these key stakeholders on a range of behaviour issues. The Practitioners group will bring together school leaders with real, front line experience of turning schools round.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures are in place in (a) the state sector and (b) the private sector to prevent cheating in examinations or coursework leading to a qualification; what sanctions apply to those found to have cheated or assisted in cheating; and if she will make a statement. [469]

Jacqui Smith: The regulatory authorities for England, Wales and Northern Ireland have produced a Code of Practice which sets out the responsibilities of awarding bodies, centres and the regulatory authorities for the provision and administration of assessment, including coursework. The code applies to all GCSE, GCE, VCE, GNVQ and AEA qualifications, regardless of what type of school or college they are taken in.

The regulatory authorities monitor the awarding bodies to ensure that they adhere strictly to the Code of Practice. The code requires each awarding body to make sure that teachers take steps to satisfy themselves that coursework is solely the pupil's work. Teachers must also present a written declaration that each candidate's work was carried out under the required conditions.

The Joint Council for Qualifications, on behalf of the awarding bodies, has also produced guidance for dealing with instances of suspected malpractice in examinations. The guidance is issued to all heads of centres, examination officers and others involved in managing examinations.

Where an investigation establishes malpractice by a member of staff, the awarding body has the right to impose special conditions on the future involvement in its examinations by that member of staff. An awarding body may refuse to accept examination entries from a centre in cases where malpractice is established. There are a range of sanctions and penalties that may be imposed on candidates found guilty of breaking the regulations. These range from a warning through to loss of marks for the coursework element, disqualification
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from the whole qualification or barring the candidate from entering one or more examinations for a set period of time.

City Academies

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment the Government have made of the performance of the city academies. [395]

Jacqui Smith: Academies are replacing some of the poorest schools in the country, in the most disadvantaged areas. While it is still very early days in the development of the programme, Academies are already achieving success in raising educational standards, improving behaviour and attendance and in attracting applications.

Academies' most recent GCSE figures show improvements on average in the number of children gaining five or more good GCSEs: in 2003, their first year, the average 5+ A*-C GCSE results in the three open Academies was 24 per cent., compared to an average of 16 per cent. in their predecessor schools in 2002. The rate of improvement in Academies' Key Stage 3 results is outstripping the national average: for the 11 Academies reporting results in 2004—compared to those of their predecessor schools in 2001—KS3 English and maths results on average improved by nine percentage points (from 34 per cent. to 43 per cent., and 38 per cent. to 47 per cent.) compared to a six and seven percentage points increase nationally (from 65 per cent. to 71 per cent., and 66 per cent. to 73 per cent.).

We have also commissioned Pricewaterhouse Coopers to carry out an independent five-year longitudinal evaluation of the Academies programme. The study will be looking at the impact of Academies on children from disadvantaged areas and their families, and communities, and the extent to which Academies raise educational standards and aspirations. The first Annual Report in 2003 looked only at the three then open Academies. We will be publishing the second Annual Report soon.


Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she will reply to the letter from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton dated 31 March with regard to Ms Frances Ives. [196]

Jacqui Smith: A response has been issued today.

Education (Hammersmith and Fulham)

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many secondary schools are under special measures in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. [853]

Jacqui Smith: There are two secondary schools in special measures in Hammersmith and Fulham. They are Burlington Danes Church of England school and Hurlingham and Chelsea secondary school.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent discussions she has had with the Hammersmith and Fulham local education authority. [854]

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Jacqui Smith: In the last week, my officials have discussed with officers of the authority measures to support improvement in schools in Hammersmith and Fulham, to support the LEA and academies policy.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to improve educational standards in Hammersmith and Fulham, with particular reference to schools under special measures. [855]

Jacqui Smith: There are no primary schools, and two secondary schools, in special measures in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Advisers in my Department have developed a close working relationship with the Hammersmith and Fulham local authority. We are working together to raise attainment, raise attendance and levels of participation in learning, raise levels of literacy, strengthen behaviour support, improve recruitment and retention and tackle under-performance throughout the secondary sector.

Eight secondary schools in Hammersmith and Fulham receive a Leadership Incentive Grant (LIG) of £135,000 per school in 2005–06. This three-year grant, which began in April 2003, is designed to raise standards, strengthen leadership at all levels and stimulate collaboration to improve standards of teaching and learning across groups of schools. The authority also receives £40,000 per year as a School Improvement Adviser grant, which is designed to increase school improvement capacity within local authorities.

In addition, schools in Hammersmith and Fulham receive support from the London Challenge, focused, for example, on targeting year 11 pupils taking their GCSEs, and on supporting leadership at all levels. In each case, a London Challenge adviser works with the headteacher and local authority, through a School Improvement Partnership Board, to co-ordinate support for the school's improvement strategy.

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