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9 Jun 2005 : Column 691W—continued

NVQ (School Catering)

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether she plans to make the vocational qualification in school catering a national vocational qualification. [2796]

Jacqui Smith: We have no current plans to do so. The Food Standards Agency and the Department commissioned People 1st (the Sector Skills Council for the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries) to develop a vocational qualification in school catering following a study on secondary school meals. The study recommended that a basic qualification should be developed which included the basics of nutrition and which would give school cooks the knowledge and skills to deliver a healthier school meals service. People 1st consulted a number of organisations in order to produce a Training Needs Assessment report before developing the qualification. It was clear from their research that the training had to be suitable for the part-time nature of the school catering work force.

We are currently working with People 1st, the Food Standards Agency, the Teacher Training Agency, the LSC and the QCA to review and build on the qualifications that are currently available (including full NVQs) to ensure we have a ladder of qualifications, which includes information on nutritional standards where appropriate, and will meet the skills needs of all catering staff.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what role the British Nutrition Foundation has in (a) developing the content of food and nutrition courses in schools and (b) developing the course content of the vocational qualification in school catering. [2798]

Jacqui Smith: The British Nutrition Foundation contributes to national consultations on the national curriculum. The foundation's main areas of interest and expertise relate to food and nutrition ie science, design and technology, home economics and PSHE. Their responses are published on their website The foundation offered advice to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) on suitable content for potential A-level food technology specifications several years ago, prior to the development of these new courses. More recently, they have undertaken a research project for the QCA on the extent to which current GCSE examinations help to deliver the Food Standards Agency's "Getting to Grips with Grub" competences for 14 to 16-year-olds. This report was delivered to my Department and QCA in May 2005.

The British Nutrition Foundation has not been directly involved with the development of the vocational qualification which has been developed by People 1st
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(the Sector Skills Council for the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries) in consultation with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and my Department. People 1st consulted with the Caroline Walker Trust, the Local Authority Catering Association and a number of local authorities as part of their initial research into identifying the key issues involved in the delivery of nutrition training to school meals staff. The foundation worked closely with the FSA on the development of the publication "Catering for Health" (2001), which they took forward on behalf of the FSA and Department of Health as a basis for encouraging healthier catering practices.

Out-of-Classroom Education

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she has taken to take forward the out of classroom education manifesto; and if she will make a statement. [2682]

Jacqui Smith: We held an initial scoping workshop in February with around 30 stakeholder organisations from outdoor and adventurous activities, field studies, school grounds, farming and countryside, museums and galleries, built environment, cultural and heritage, organisations where they contributed their ideas about the scope and purpose of a manifesto. We will develop this further in consultation with the very many organisations with an interest in out of classroom learning and off-site visits.

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if she will make it her policy to ensure that every school child has the opportunity to experience out-of-classroom learning in the natural environment; [2023]

(2) if she will issue guidance in out-of-classroom education as part of the National Curriculum; [2024]

(3) if she will commission research into the merits of out-of-classroom education. [2025]

Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 15 February that we will be working with partners to develop an 'Education Outside the Classroom' Manifesto. The majority of schools already offer a range of out of classroom learning that enriches the curriculum, builds confidence and increases skills. The Manifesto will set out a joint commitment that all children should have the opportunity of a wide range of high quality out of classroom learning, including at least one residential experience. It will also seek to encourage schools to partner with other schools and out of classroom learning providers and to encourage parents to take an active interest out of classroom learning. It will set out a range of advice and support, provide information and good practice guidance on health and safety issues and set out priorities for the development of out of classroom learning. We part funded the National Foundation for Educational Research to review outdoor learning research. The report was published last year and showed the benefits of out-of-classroom education. We do not intend to commission further research for this purpose.

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will discuss with the Teacher Training Agency incorporating into (a) initial teacher
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training courses and (b) continuing professional development programmes training on education outside the classroom. [2026]

Jacqui Smith: The Education Act 2005 provides a new and wider remit for the Teacher Training Agency. From September, as the Training and Development Agency for Schools, it will assume responsibility for the training and development not only of the whole school workforce, but also of teachers who work outside the classroom. The Agency is currently planning how to discharge these new responsibilities and the Secretary of State will receive its advice on this in due course.

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the risk assessment system for school trips. [2027]

Jacqui Smith: The Education and Skills Select Committee Inquiry into Education Outside the Classroom found that mishaps on educational visits are rare, with serious problems very unlikely to occur. We believe that this excellent record is the result of good risk management by local education authorities, schools and their staff. Risk management is a statutory requirement that covers staff and pupils on educational premises and offsite on educational visits. "Standards for LEAs in Overseeing Educational Visits" (DfES 2002) sets out the principles of risk assessment, emphasising that schools must strike the right balance, being neither overcautious nor careless.

We are preparing with our partners a Manifesto for Education Outside the Classroom which will reinforce our advice that local education authorities and schools should complete risk assessments that are proportionate to the level of risk of a particular activity.

Parenting Fund

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what changes she has made to the criteria for obtaining a grant from the Parenting Fund. [2750]

Beverley Hughes: The Government have made no changes to the criteria for obtaining a grant from the Parenting Fund. The fund, worth £25 million over 2003–04, 2004–05 and 2005–06, is currently managed by the National Family and Parenting Institute. The Parenting Fund will benefit from an extra £10 million in 2006–07 and £10 million in 2007–08.

Physical Education (London)

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what average number of hours per week of physical education was undertaken in schools in (a) Brent, East and (b) each London borough in the last 12 months. [2516]

Jacqui Smith: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the 2004–05 PE, School Sport and Club Links survey, which is currently under way, will provide data relating to the percentage of pupils in school sport partnership schools who spend at least two hours each
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week on high quality PE and school sport. This data will be broken down by LEA area. The results of the survey will be published in the autumn and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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