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15 Jun 2005 : Column 496W—continued

School Building

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total cost is of projects under waves 1 to 3 of the Building Schools for the Future programme for the special schools sector. [4865]

Jacqui Smith: The local authorities in waves 1 to 3 of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme are all at different stages of developing their proposals.
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Costs of each project are only identified as they proceed through procurement and are not finalised until contract signature.

Costs for all special schools in BSF are being reviewed in the context of the current consultation on revised design guidance in the form of Building Bulletin 77: Designing for Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Schools. However, we have identified resources to fund the special schools in waves one to three at the new standard, once finalised, from within the BSF budget.

School Meals

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average spending per meal per pupil for school meals was in (a) England and (b) Hartlepool in the last period for which figures are available. [1816]

Jacqui Smith: This information is not currently collected centrally.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answers of 13 June 2005, ref. 3581, what proportion of the £220 million funding grant to transform school meals is intended for (a) food ingredients and (b) re-training of school catering staff. [5026]

Jacqui Smith: Over the three years 2005–06 to 2007–08, all maintained schools in England will receive a share of the £220 million set aside to help local education authorities and schools strengthen their support for healthy eating and to provide better quality food. Of this, £30 million each year will go to schools. This money will not be ring-fenced, but it is intended to help meet transitional costs involved in developing and improving their whole school" approach to food. This might include, for example, revisiting the whole school approach, reviewing meals provision, retraining school meals staff or preparing for healthy schools" accreditation.

£30/50/50 million will go to LEAs, ring-fenced for improving the quality of school meals and other food provided by schools, with an emphasis on supporting schools in deprived areas and schools starting from a low base. The first call on this money will be transition funding to help schools provide meals with ingredients costing 50p or more in primary schools, and 60p or more in secondary schools.

The first instalment of this additional funding will be available to schools and LEAs this autumn. Further details about the distribution of both grants between individual LEAs and schools will be announced over the summer.

School Standards

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she will take to make parents partners in raising school standards. [3839]

Jacqui Smith: There is a wealth of evidence that parental involvement in their children's education (in the form of good parenting in the home) has a strong and positive impact on their child's education, even controlling for other factors that influence attainment such as social class. Since 1997, we have sought to
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enhance parental involvement in children's learning through a range of measures targeted at parents and schools. These include information for parents such as videos, DVDs, the Learning Journey" guides, the Parents Centre website, and funding for help lines offering advice on educational issues; and materials for schools such as the Involving Parents, Raising Achievement" toolkit, and others disseminated through the Primary and Key Stage 3 National Strategies. The Government have elevated the priority of effective parental engagement by requiring all schools to address it explicitly within the self evaluation form that will underpin the new inspection regime to take effect from this autumn. Ofsted inspectors will seek the views of parents and must have regard to those views when conducting an inspection. Inspectors will use this information alongside the evidence provided in the self evaluation form to assess how effectively the school is working in partnership with parents. In assessing the quality of provision, inspectors will also evaluate the involvement of parents in their children's learning and development. The new style inspection reports have been designed with parents' needs specifically in mind.

We are currently considering how we can best capitalise on and further increase the contribution parents make to raising educational standards.

Special Schools

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what longitudinal research her Department has collated on the life time experiences of students who attended specialist schools for moderate learning disabilities and similar students who were included into mainstream schools; and what the basis has been for the closure of moderate learning disabilities schools. [4251]

Maria Eagle: The Department has not investigated the life time experiences of SEN pupils with moderate learning difficulties who attend special schools compared with those who went to mainstream schools. Comparing pupils from the two settings to give a comparison is not a valid exercise as these pupils have different characteristics and needs.

The Department is concerned about the outcomes for pupils who attend special schools and in 1999 commissioned a longitudinal study of pupils with special educational needs leaving compulsory education at the age of 16. About a quarter of the pupils in the study were classified as having moderate learning difficulty.

The study investigated pupils' expectations and aspirations towards transitions and their subsequent experience and attitude toward education, employment and independent living. The first baseline report was published in 2001, with a first follow up report published in 2004. Parents and carers were also interviewed. The final Wave 3 report, based on over a thousand follow up interviews, will be published at the end of July 2005. The Department has used the findings from this study to develop policy to help pupils with Special Educational Needs make successful transitions from school.

Special schools have a role to play in the provision for pupils with special educational needs but school closures are a matter for local provision based on local decision making processes.
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Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the special schools in England, broken down by (a) geographical area and (b) specialisation. [4671]

Maria Eagle: The requested information has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Student Finance

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what discussions her Department has had with the Open University about the effect of the new student funding system on part-time undergraduate students; [4030]

(2) when she expects the Higher Education Funding Council to announce additional funding for the Open University to compensate for the effects of the new funding regime on part-time undergraduate students. [4839]

Bill Rammell: Over the last 12 months, Ministers and officials have met regularly with the Open University to consider a range of issues, including the changes to the funding system which will be introduced in 2006/07. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has considered representations from the Open University and Birkbeck College for special funding in response to their concerns about the impact of variable fees on large scale providers of part-time undergraduate higher education. The Council announced its findings on 1 March. These included a commitment to develop a widening participation measure, from the 2006/07 academic year, designed to ensure that the most disadvantaged students will continue to be able to study on a part-time basis. Details of the measure will be confirmed by the HEFCE Board in the autumn. Both the Government and HEFCE continue to monitor the sector, holding discussions with the Open University and other institutions, to ensure that available funding is used to support part-time provision in the most effective way.

Teacher Training

Ms Gisela Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what the recent change has been in the resources given by the Teacher Training Agency to the Return to Teaching scheme; and what the change in places available for former teachers on training courses will be; [4506]

(2) what assessment she has made of the contribution retrained former teachers have made to the education system in the last 12 months; [4507]

(3) what assessment she has made of the effect the policy change of the Teacher Training Agency towards the Return to Teaching programme will have on providers of training; [4508]

(4) if she will list the subjects for which the TeacherTraining Agency still fund Return to Teaching courses. [4509]

Jacqui Smith: In allocating resources to the Teacher Training Agency, the Secretary of State gives the agency a degree of discretion in how it deploys some of those
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resources to achieve the recruitment to teacher training and teaching required to meet the targets set it. Each year, the agency considers the data on the enduring challenges to recruitment and adapts its deployment of resources accordingly.

Slow recruitment to the Returners Programme and falling primary vacancies have led the agency to reduce the sums allocated to the Returners Programme for 2005–06, from £5.5 million to just over £3.5 million, with a target of 1,400 places to be filled compared with the 1,547 places filled (from a target of 2000) in 2004–05. It is properly ensuring that resources deployed secure best value for money.

The figures are not yet available on the contribution retrained former teachers have made to the education system in the last 12 months. However, for the 12 months to March 2003, according to the DfES survey data, returning teachers made up 29 per cent. of the total inflows to the work force (12,200 out of a total inflow of 41,900). Of these, 1,586 had attended Returners courses.

Primary Returners course provision has been reduced across the country. Every provider successfully running a course in 2004–05 has a course programme, although the numbers of courses commissioned from some providers has been reduced, to ensure better value for money.

The TTA are still funding both primary and secondary courses. The subjects offered include all secondary subjects, but providers are asked to prioritise shortage subjects such as maths, science and modern languages.

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