Previous Section Index Home Page

7 Jun 2005 : Column 470W—continued

Tax credits (Birmingham)

Lynne Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many non-pensioner families in Birmingham were recipients of tax credits in the last three years; and how many have been identified as having received overpayments. [1877]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 6 June 2005]: The information requested on non-pensioner families is not available. HMRC statistical publications show estimates of the number of in-work families in each region, local authority and constituency with tax credits awards at selected dates since July 2003. They also show estimates of the number of 2003–04 awards to families in each such area, and the number of these that were overpaid at 5 April 2004 after finalisation. The estimates are based on samples and are subject to significant sampling uncertainty. The publications can be found on the HMRC website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-stats.htm.

EDUCATION AND SKILLS

Academic Boycotts

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Hertsmere of 23 May 2005, Official Report, column 5W, on Academic Boycott (Israel), what mechanisms the Government have used to make clear their opposition to academic boycotts; and whether these have included discussions with individual academics. [2022]

Bill Rammell: We have most recently stated our opposition to academic boycotts, via press releases from Dr. Howells, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Government have not engaged in discussions with individual academics on this matter.

Action Zones (Pupil Achievement)

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what evaluation has been carried out on the impact of (a) education action zones and (b) Excellence in Cities action zones on (i) social or economic disadvantage in the area, (ii) levels of pupil achievement, (iii) unauthorised absence and (iv) exclusion; [2313]

(2) what independent research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on education action zones and excellence in cities action zones. [2314]


 
7 Jun 2005 : Column 471W
 

Jacqui Smith: A number of DfES commissioned research papers and reports have been published about the progress and impact of education action zones—both statutory and in Excellence in Cities areas:

In addition the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) is presently in the final stages of preparing an evaluation of the Excellence in Cities programme which will be published later this year. The evaluation commenced in September 2000. An interim Partnerships within Excellence in Cities Action Zones" paper was presented in October 2003 and is available on the NFER website: www.nfer.ac.uk/publications.

Autism

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what funding her Department has provided to improve education of people with autism in each of the last five years; what plans she has to increase this amount; and if she will make a statement. [677]

Maria Eagle: Funding to provide for the education of disabled children and adults is made available to statutory bodies within general budgets and is not broken down by individual type of disability. For example, over £3.5 billion was spent in 2003–04 from local authority and school budgets in meeting children's special educational needs (SEN), including those with autism, and the estimated outturn for 2004–05 is £3.8 billion.

It is for statutory bodies to use the funding available to them to improve educational provision for disabled children and adults. In 2002 the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Department of Health published Good Practice Guidance on Autistic Spectrum Disorders to help schools, local authorities and others improve their autism provision. Nine of the 11 DfES-funded SEN regional partnerships, including the south west, have autism working groups and are using the guidance and other resources to spread good practice in autism provision.

Bullying

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what assessment she has made of the incidence of bullying in schools that makes use of mobile phone technology, with particular reference to happy slapping; [2202]

(2) what guidance has been issued by her Department on the use of a no blame approach to bullying; [2207]
 
7 Jun 2005 : Column 472W
 

(3) what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the no blame approach on (a) bullying and (b) the experience of the victim; [2208]

(4) what assessment she has made of the escalation of bullying into other forms of antisocial behaviour; [2209]

(5) which anti-bullying groups her Department supports financially; and what the level of that support was in 2004; [2210]

(6) which voluntary and community sector organisations the Department included in discussions in formulation of its school anti-bullying policies; [2211]

(7) if she will list departmental programmes aimed at combating bullying; what the cost of each programme is expected to be over its lifetime; and if she will make a statement on the effectiveness of each; [2213]

(8) what the cost of hosting the regional and national conferences on bullying was; and what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of regional and national conferences hosted by her Department on combating bullying in terms of spreading best practice. [2214]

Jacqui Smith: Tackling bullying in all its forms is an issue which is taken seriously by the Department. No child should have to suffer the pain and indignity of bullying. Protecting children from fear and intimidation is a pre-requisite of raising school standards. Creating an environment where bullying is not tolerated is integral to good discipline; it is central to a strong school ethos and will help to ensure we can support every child to fulfil their potential.

There has been no national assessment made of incidences of bullying in schools involving the use of mobile phones and in particular happy slapping. However part of the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) remit under the funding provided by the Department is to develop innovative and practical approaches to tackling bullying, including the modern menace of bullying by text messaging. Bullying by text messages on mobile phones is also referred to in our guidance pack for schools 'Don't suffer in Silence'.

Departmental guidance on bullying does not refer to the use of an approach with the title no blame". There has not been an assessment of its effectiveness. Don't Suffer In Silence", the DfES guidance, describes a range of possible approaches for schools to use, including the support group approach. The key features of this approach are demonstrating to the learners who have been bullying a child the harmful impact of their words and actions, and involving the learners who have been bullying in putting matters right for the child who has suffered.

There has been no formal assessment of the escalation of bullying into other forms of antisocial behaviour.

In the 2004–05 financial year the Diana Award received £50,000, ChildLine in Partnership in Schools (CHIPS) £164,000, Parentline Plus 193,000 and the ABA £480,000.

There are many voluntary sector and community groups included in discussions including Act Against Bullying, Actionwork, Action for Inclusion, Beat Bullying, Bullying Online, Bullywatch, ChildLine, Children's Legal Centre, Children's Society in Rochdale,
 
7 Jun 2005 : Column 473W
 
Commission for Racial Equality, ContinYou, Coram Family, Council for Disabled Children, Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH), Kidscape, National Children's Bureau, NCH, NSPCC, Parentline Plus, Safer Custody Group, Save the Children, School's Out!, SCOPE, Stonewall UK, Observatory for the Promotion of Non-violence, Young Minds, Young Transnet, Young Voice, YWCA England and Wales, Barnardos, The Circle Works, Diana Award, Bully Free Zone, Children are Unbeatable, PUPILINE, Shakti Imani Inclusion Project, The 1990 Trust, Muslim Liaison Committee, Muslim Council of Britain, Bradford Council of Mosques, Lancashire Council of Mosques, An-Nisa Society, Birmingham Central Mosque, Forum against Islamophobia and Racism, Imams and Mosques Council, Islamic Foundation (Leicester), Islamic Cultural Centre, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Islamic Society of Britain, The IQRA Trust, The Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony and the Churches' Commission on Racial Justice.

Work to support parents, schools and local authorities is carried out in our anti-bullying funded programmes referred to above. These programmes are delivered on our behalf by voluntary sector organisations.

In answer to the question on the regional and national conferences on bullying—the costs of those conferences from 2003–05 was approximately £1 million. The conferences were a significant success. Evaluations for the London conference were 100 per cent. positive, and for the series overall 97 per cent. positive. Evaluations judged that the conferences had been highly effective in spreading best practice.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the link between bullying and (a) truancy, (b) exclusions, (c) participation in (i) further and (ii) higher education and (d) the incidence of self-harm and suicide in each of the last five years. [2212]

Jacqui Smith: The Department does not collect data on the prevalence of bullying and the impact that it has on truancy, exclusions, participation in further or higher education and the incidence of self-harm and suicide.

We know from research that bullying puts the emotional well-being and educational achievement of pupils at risk and has a significant and lasting negative impact upon children's lives. This is why the Department is committed to helping schools to prevent and combat bullying.

To help schools tackle bullying, the Department has issued guidance in the Bullying: Don't Suffer in Silence" pack and in the Stand up for us: challenging homophobia in schools" guidance. We have also commissioned various pieces of research to look at effective ways of tackling bullying from children and young people's points of view, launched an anti-bullying charter and in July 2004 funded a national alliance to tackle bullying to tackle bullying to carry forward the momentum of the work of the Make the Difference series of ministerial conferences.
 
7 Jun 2005 : Column 474W
 

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which cross-departmental working groups attended by her Department deal with issues affecting bullying and antisocial behaviour; and which other departments are involved in each case. [2307]

Jacqui Smith: DfES both leads and attends a number of cross-government groups who are concerned with the prevention of all negative outcomes for children and young people, including those addressing issues of bullying and antisocial behaviour. In particular, these issues are among those discussed by the Department for Education and Skills' Change for Children Programme Board which includes the Home Office, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Department of Health, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Treasury and the Youth Justice Board.

Home Office, the Youth Justice Board and the Department for Education and Skills are also core members of other groups which have a more specific focus on offending including offending by young people, antisocial behaviour and bullying. These are the Youth Crime Programme Board, the Crime Reduction Delivery Board, the Penalty Notices for Disorder operational working group, the Prolific and Other Priority Offenders Programme Board and the Safer Schools Partnership steering group.

Other departments who are represented on some or all of these groups include: Department for Constitutional Affairs, Department for Work and Pensions, the Crown Prosecution Service and Government Offices for the Regions.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of links between low levels of literacy and (a) bullying, (b) poor behaviour and (c) truancy. [2315]

Jacqui Smith: From published research and our own statistics we are aware that there are links between bullying, poor behaviour and high levels of absence from school and low attainment, which is why this Government have made tackling bullying and low-level disruptive behaviour in schools, and tackling truancy from school, a priority.


Next Section Index Home Page