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Building Repair

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of the sum allocated for the renovation of further education colleges in the last Budget has been spent. [5398]

Bill Rammell: The £1.5 billion budget covers the years 2005–06 to 2009–10. The Learning and Skills Council is responsible for providing capital grant support towards the costs of colleges' capital investment programmes. In the year ending 31 April 2006 it should incur expenditure of £183 million on further education and 16–19 capital projects of which £37 million had been paid to the end of May. The LSC estimates that its capital expenditure in the full year should trigger over £600 million of investment by colleges.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures have been taken to improve facilities for schools to respond to the needs of young carers in the last five years. [4625]

Maria Eagle: The Government's National Strategy for Carers Caring for Carers" set specific commitments to improve support for young carers. The strategy recognises schools as playing a key role in identifying young carers.

The Department promotes awareness of young carers' needs through specific references in personal, social and health education (PSHE) and citizenship curriculum frameworks; the standards for qualified teacher status; and departmental bullying guidance.

The DfES Standards Fund Vulnerable Children Grant was introduced in the 2003–04 financial year to help local education authorities to ensure that vulnerable children have access to high quality education. Young carers are one of the eight key groups that the grant is designed to help. The grant was worth a total of £84 million, on a matched funding basis, in the financial years 2003–04 and 2004–05. £84 million is also available in the current financial year 2005–06. It is for local authorities to decide how to use the grant.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children are benefiting from the carers special grant. [4626]

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Maria Eagle: The carers grant was introduced in 1999 and since then has provided an extra £450 million over the past five years, to increase the number of breaks for carers. The grant is worth £185 million in the current financial year, and will continue at this level until the financial year 2007–08 at least. Of this amount, 20 per cent. has been earmarked at a national level each year for children's services, including young carers. Information is not collected centrally about the numbers of children benefiting from the grant.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what estimate she has made of the number of child carers who care for a relative with a mental illness; [4650]

(2) how many assessments of carer needs have been carried out, broken down by carer age groups, since the introduction of the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000; [4462]

(3) what estimate she has made of the number of young carers; [4464]

(4) what percentage of young carers have been assessed for their ability to provide for the person they care for. [4465]

Maria Eagle: Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 places a duty on local authorities with responsibilities for children's social services to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need in their area, through the provision of services appropriate to the needs of such children, and as far as is consistent with this, to promote the upbringing of children within their families.

The Department for Education and Skills does not collect information on assessments made by local authorities under the 1989 Children Act, in specific relation to the numbers of children in need who are young carers, or about those who are young carers because their parents have mental health problems. Neither does the Department collect information about young carers' ability to provide for the person they care for. The 2001 census recorded a total of 149,942 young carers aged 17 and under.

The following table shows the estimated number of carer assessments and reviews, from 2000–01 to 2003–04 inclusive, made principally under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000.

It is not possible to disaggregate the figures for the under 18 category.
Number of carers assessed or reviewed: England

All agesUnder 1818–6465–7475 and overAge not known

(9)The carers return was defined in 2003–04 to include carers assessed or reviewed.
Data for previous years refer to assessments only.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when Ministers from her Department last met representatives from young carers' organisations. [4651]

Maria Eagle: Lord Filkin, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, met with young people from the Children's Society Young Carers Initiative in January.
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Connexions Service

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the Connexions Service. [5935]

Maria Eagle: Proposals for Connexions and the future delivery of services for 13 to 19-year-olds will be set out in a Youth Green Paper which we intend to publish in due course.

EU Students

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) under what circumstances higher education institutions in England would be obliged to award financial support for maintenance purposes to EU students if the support is fee-related from 2006; [3113]

(2) whether there are circumstances in which the termsused to describe bursary or financial support would make higher education institutions in England liable to make support available to EU students from 2006. [3098]

Bill Rammell: My Department does not give advice on the legal obligations of higher education institutions in running their affairs. Institutions take their own decisions on what bursaries or financial support they offer to their students, and are responsible for remaining within the law.

Every Child Matters

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which of the agencies her Department funds have the responsibility under Every Child Matters to break the link between social exclusion and behavioural problems of children in early years education. [5420]

Beverley Hughes: The Sure Start, Extended Schools and Families Group in the Department has the responsibility for delivering the Every Child Matters Change for Children Programme in relation to children in their early years. The aim is to create a joined-up system of health, family support, child care and education services so that every child gets the best start in life. The planned development of 3,500 Sure Start children's centres by 2010 will be a key part of this, enabling early identification of potential problems for the child and providing families with appropriate support they need.

Research evidence, such as the Department's Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) study, shows a link between social deprivation and the risk of poor social and behavioural development in the early years. It is also known from research that quality pre-school education and child care, and the importance of the home environment have a positive effect on children's social and emotional development in the early years and into primary school.

To respond to this research we are funding a number of programmes to raise the quality of early years education. All providers of Government funded early education for children aged three to five are required to provide the Foundation Stage part of the National Curriculum. Personal, social and emotional development is a key area
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of learning and children are supported to understand what is right, what is wrong and why; and to consider the consequences of their words and actions for themselves and others. The Foundation Stage guidance indicates that practitioners should involve children in agreeing codes of behaviour and taking responsibility for their implementation.

The Department has appointed the Institute of Psychology, King's College London to develop a training programme to support practitioners on young children's personal social and emotional development to support the Birth to Three Matters and Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage documents. The materials will help providers support children develop respect for others, social competence and a positive disposition to learn.

The Department's Parental Community Support Project aims to support parents in supporting their children's early learning and development—improving educational, health, social and emotional outcomes for children in 500 communities. The project will identify and disseminate existing effective practice in engaging with parents, creating effective intervention models to increase parents' engagement with their children's early learning, and creating effective links between local settings and parents. A key part of the project will be to train front line staff working with children and parents.

In recognition of the importance of young children starting to develop good social skills in their earliest years of life the Department has a PSA target to improve children's communication, social and emotional development and to reduce inequalities between the level of development achieved by children in the 20 per cent. most disadvantaged areas and the rest of England.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment her Department has made of (a) the effectiveness of On Track and (b) its incorporation into the Children's Fund within the Every Child Matters strategy. [5053]

Beverley Hughes: The formal evaluation of On Track is still in progress with the final report due in December 2006. This report will look at the effectiveness of On Track and provide evidence about how it has contributed to delivering the Every Child Matters outcomes. It will also explore how On Track is positioned as part of the Children's Fund and within the broader preventative agenda.

Evidence from Phase 1 of the evaluation suggests that On Track has been effective in tackling a range of known individual, family and school based risk factors for children and young people linked to later involvement in crime. The programme has had a positive impact on both children and adults especially in improving their confidence and self-esteem. Children are more resilient, and more likely to be in positive peer groups; families exhibit greater stability and more affectionate relationships. This has led to reductions in school absences, temporary exclusions and nuisance behaviour among the children and young people involved in the On Track programme.
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