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7 Jun 2005 : Column 474W—continued

Disabled Children

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has for the education of disabled children. [1473]

Maria Eagle: The Government's plans for education demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to achieve their full potential, including disabled children. The reforms set out in the Department's Five-Year Strategy and Every Child Matters Change for Children Programme aim to help all children, including disabled children, to be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, and achieve economic well-being.

The range of measures we are taking through Removing Barriers to Achievement", our special educational needs strategy, will help to build the capacity of all early education settings and schools to meet the needs of disabled children and children with SEN throughout their education. Specifically, we are
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working with the Disability Rights Commission and the Council for Disabled Children to provide schools with practical tools to improve their effectiveness in making reasonable adjustments to include disabled pupils and in reviewing and revising their plans for increasing access for disabled pupils to school premises and facilities, to the curriculum, and to information in alternative formats.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, public bodies, including schools, will also have a duty to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people. This will help them to secure improved outcomes for disabled people—as employees, as service users and as pupils and students.

Gershon Review

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of staff who have left the Department as part of the implementation of the Gershon Review (a) has taken (i) voluntary and (ii) compulsory redundancy and (b) has been transferred to employment in a non-departmental public body. [1849]

Bill Rammell: As part of DfES's reform programme, which contributes to the savings identified in the 'Gershon Review', the Department plans to reduce in size by 1,460 posts by April 2008 without recourse to compulsory redundancies. The Department has so far reduced by 714 posts.

360 people have left the Department through a voluntary early release scheme and seven have transferred to employment in a non-departmental public body. Normal turnover accounts for the remainder of the reductions.

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made in implementing the proposals of the Gershon Review as they affect her Department; and if she will make a statement. [1850]

Bill Rammell: My Department has made good progress to date and is on track to deliver annual efficiency gains of £4.3 billion by 2007–08. Details about how we propose to make our gains are set out in our efficiency technical note available on my Department's website. Much of this is in the schools sector, for example by measures designed to release teachers from tasks that take them away from teaching, through better procurement practices, and by better regulation.

Gifted Pupils

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent research she has collated into the performance of gifted pupils at state schools with particular reference to the performance of children in Key Stage 2 tests. [1739]

Jacqui Smith: We have received a preliminary analysis from the Specialist Schools Trust examining the GCSE performance of the 5 per cent. of pupils achieving the highest raw marks on Key Stage 2 tests in English and mathematics. The analysis suggests that pupils at those comprehensive schools where there are relatively large
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numbers from this population achieve a higher average number of GCSEs at grades A*/A than pupils at selective schools.

Level 2 Qualifications

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what resources she has allocated in the 2005–06 financial year to assist further education colleges to identify adults without a Level 2 qualification to receive free tuition; [1663]

(2) what resources she has provided in the 2005–06 financial year to ensure that more adults of working age achieve a first full Level 2 by 2010. [1664]

Bill Rammell: My Department's grant letter of 15 November 2004 to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) allocated a total of £6.7 billion for learning participation in 2005–06. The letter reiterated our key priorities for 2005–06 to meet the needs of young people, those lacking literacy, numeracy and English Language skills and those seeking a first full Level 2 qualification.

No new resources have been allocated specifically for Level 2 entitlement. The LSC allocates funds to providers based upon agreed development plans that deliver our priorities, and will consider Level 2 entitlement as part of this process.

Looked-after Children

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what strategies her Department has introduced for looked-after children who display (a) poor behaviour in school and (b) antisocial behaviour. [2318]

Jacqui Smith: Through the Children Act 2004, the Government are introducing a new duty on local authorities, with effect from 1 July 2005, to promote the educational achievement of looked-after children. We are currently consulting on statutory guidance, building on existing guidance published in 2000, which will set out what steps local authorities should take to fulfill this duty, including the importance of working effectively with schools.

This autumn we shall also be publishing a guidance document on looked-after children for school governors which will include advice on a range of specific issues, including behaviour.

The national standards which apply to children's homes and fostering services are designed to ensure that looked-after children develop socially acceptable behaviour and attend school regularly. In 2004 we introduced parenting contracts and parenting orders for behaviour, which can be applied to foster parents of looked-after children.

The Government have funded the National Association for the Care and Re-settlement of Offenders to develop a good practice handbook for children's services and youth offending teams on reducing offending by looked-after children, which is due to be published shortly.

More generally, we are implementing a wide-ranging programme to improve the behaviour of all school pupils. This includes behaviour management training
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materials for school staff, advice from expert behaviour consultants, curriculum materials to help schools develop pupils' social, emotional and behavioural skills and extra resources for learning mentors, learning support units and multi-agency teams to support schools and pupils with the greatest need.

Pupil Behaviour

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the effect of parenting orders on pupil behaviour. [2310]

Jacqui Smith: Research on the impact of parenting programmes undertaken in 2002 for the Youth Justice Board showed that they have a positive impact both on young people's perception of their parents and on their behaviour.

Statistically significant positive changes were reported in parenting skills and competencies by the time parents left their programmes.

These findings indicate that parenting orders can have a beneficial effect on the behaviour of the young person.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the effect of acceptable behaviour contracts on pupil behaviour. [2311]

Jacqui Smith: None. Acceptable behaviour contracts are general measures used by the police to improve the behaviour of young people. They can be used in a school setting but they are not exclusive to schools. Schools have a range of measures to help them manage pupil behaviour including Pastoral Support Programmes which identify precise and realistic behavioural outcomes for the child to work towards and Parenting Contracts where the LEA or school governing body considers that parenting is a factor in the truancy or behaviour of the child and where the parent appears to be in need of (and willing to accept) support.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will encourage registration by children with behavioural difficulties at both a school and a pupil referral unit to enable such children get specialist support for behavioural difficulties. [2320]

Jacqui Smith: I believe that decisions on how to address the needs of pupils with behavioural difficulties are best made locally depending on the particular circumstances of individual pupils. Some pupils are educated both at their school and at a pupil referral unit.

Guidance issued in October 2004 about 'Exclusion from Schools and Pupil Referral Units' sets out various options and measures that are available to meet the
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needs of pupils who are at risk of exclusion including, where appropriate, placing them in pupil referral units as part of a planned programme.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether she plans to publish attendance figures at pupil referral units. [2321]

Jacqui Smith: We have already given an undertaking to ask local authorities to provide the Department with the relevant data. To this end, we are considering the best way to arrange for the collection and publication of the relevant information.

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