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David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether parts of the course content for GCSE qualifications in (a) home economics and (b) design technology are replicated in the course content for the GCSE in food technology. 
Bill Rammell: GCSEs exist in Home Economics (food and nutrition) and Design Technology (food technology). The focus of each specification is very different. Design and Technology (food technology) covers food materials and components; food product design; development and market influences; and food process and product manufacture.
Home Economics (food and nutrition) looks at nutrition in relation to the preparation and cooking of food; the relationship between nutrition and good health; and the effect of the marketing and advertising of food products on consumer choice.
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Bill Rammell: Data on lifetime earnings are rare, but we do impute such information from cross-section data sets. The following table shows gross weekly average earnings for graduates and non-graduates, by age bands. It demonstrates that the premium rises with age, as a degree opens doors to promotion and progression over the working life which are closed to non-graduates.
|First/foundation degree (£)||Level 3 and below (£)||Percentage difference|
|Total working age||610||388||57|
We prefer to present this type of data in another formatmost importantly using an accounting technique to express the benefit to a degree at today's valuation, and stripping out any other effects not related to the qualification itself.
In doing so, the average lifetime financial benefit to a degree, compared to holders of A-levels as their highest qualification, is £120,000 in present value termsas outlined in a previous written answer to the House (PQ140797, 8 December 2003).
This is entirely consistent with the University of Wales' research. It represents a strong financial benefit to university education, and provides a clear message that employers need graduates and the extra productivity and innovation that they bring to the economy.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of Statefor Education and Skills what progress has been made towards achieving the target of 50 per cent. of all 18 to 30-year-olds going on to higher education by 2010. 
The Department measures progress on its target of increasing participation in higher education towards 50 per cent. of those aged 18 to 30 by 2010 through the higher education initial participation rate (HEIPR). The HEIPR has risen from 41 per cent. in 19992000 to 43 per cent.(provisionally) in 200304.
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Further information on the HEIPR is available in DfES Statistical First Release 14/2005 Participation Rates in Higher Education: Academic Years 1999/20002003/04 (Provisional)" published on 14 April 2005 and available from the House of Commons Library.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of individuals who entered higher education came from each social class in each of the past 10 years for which figures are available. 
Bill Rammell: The latest available information showing the proportion of young (under 21) people from each social class who enter higher education is shown in the table. The Government are committed to widening participation in higher education (HE). The Aimhigher Programme, alongside, from 2006, grants and higher education institution bursaries for students from poorer backgrounds, will enable a wider range of people to be able and willing to enter HE.
Literacy standards in primary schools are the highest that they have ever been. Last year 78 per cent. of 11-year-olds reached the expected level for their
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age in English Key Stage 2 tests. This represents an increase of 15 percentage points since 1997. In the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) published in 2003, England's 10-year-olds achieved the third highest scores in reading of the 35 countries which took part.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the planned (a) staff numbers, (b) resource budget and (c) administration costs of the (i) Learning and Skills Council and (ii) Office of Fair Access are for each year between 2005 and 2010. 
Bill Rammell: The Learning and Skills Council's estimated staffing requirement for 200506 is 4,230. Staffing numbers have not yet been agreed for the following years, but the LSC will meet its efficiency targets.
The current budgets allocated to the LSC are provided in the following table. The LSC has in place measures to achieve a planned reduction in administration costs to meet their contribution to the 15 per cent. efficiency savings required across government.
The Office of Fair Access has a budget of up to £500,000 for 200506 from which it meets its administration costs and performs its statutory functions. Plans for future years will be set in consultation with the Director of Fair Access.
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