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4 Jul 2005 : Column 147W—continued



Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) pursuant to the Answer of 13 June 2005, Official Report, column 184W, on academies, what role her Department plays in determining the sites of new academies; [8475]

(2) pursuant to the Answer of 13 June 2005, Official Report, column 184W, on academies, how parental demand is taken into account prior to the decision to site new academies; [8476]

(3) what role local education authorities play in deciding (a) whether new academies are to open and (b) the site of new academies. [8495]

Jacqui Smith: The location of Academies is determined on an individual basis taking into account historic educational performance, the level of deprivation in the area concerned, parental demand and the quality and suitability of each specific proposal. In agreeing new Academy proposals, my Department works closely with key stakeholders, including local education authorities, sponsors, Academy Trusts and groups representing parents' views.

Local education authorities are required to consider the need for a new Academy as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme, and are strongly encouraged to engage with Academies where they can meet parental demand for school places. Local education authorities decide where to site the Academy, so that it serves the needs of pupils in the most deprived areas. Where an existing school is to be replaced by an Academy, the local education authority is under a
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statutory duty to consult on the closure proposals; and we actively encourage consultation with local parents where a new Academy is to be established.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department is taking to clarify the rules concerning admissions to academies for children with special educational needs. [8477]

Jacqui Smith: The Code of Practice for special educational needs (SEN) and admissions applies to Academies in a similar way as for LEA maintained schools. This means that pupils with SEN who do not have a statement are admitted to Academies in the same way as for maintained schools.

For pupils with statements, LEAs retain the statutory responsibility and consult with Academies over the naming of a particular Academy in a statement. Once an Academy has agreed to be named, it is required to admit. Officials have provided both LEAs and Academies with guidance on how to make sure that procedures are clear, simple and in the best interests of the children. To complement this guidance, Academies have also had access to independent advice on SEN admission issues which has helped to support a range of positive working practices with LEAs and parents.

Academies on average admit more pupils with SEN (with statements and not), than LEA maintained schools.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the effectiveness of city academies of independent provision within the state sector, with particular reference to their role as examples. [8478]

Jacqui Smith: As independent schools academies have flexibilities in a number of areas. On their effectiveness, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) second annual report on academies found that:

The programme is still in its infancy and, as PWC state, principals are concentrating on ensuring that the basics of school provision are in place. Academies will increasingly spread best practice and their lessons learned. For example, a number of academies have a specialist focus on business and enterprise, which is raising the profile of enterprise education nationally in their localities.

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if she will extend the requirement to register with the General Teaching Council to teachers in academies; [8772]
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(2) what discussions she has had with (a) the General Teaching Council, (b) teaching unions and (c) others concerning the absence of the requirement for qualified teachers in academies to be registered. [8773]

Jacqui Smith: We have had correspondence with the GTC about the Council's concerns at the lack of requirement for Academy teachers to be registered with them. We have also answered a range of correspondence, from various sources, on this issue, including questions here in the House—but have received no direct representation from teaching unions.

Academies are registered independent schools. Like all independent schools, they are not bound by the legislation which requires teachers in maintained schools to register with the GTC. Academies are replacing some of our weakest under performing schools; it is right, therefore, that they are given the flexibilities and freedoms from bureaucracy to be able to take radical and innovative approaches to governance, staffing and the curriculum.

That is not to say, however, that teachers in Academies will not be registered with the GTC. The vast majority of teachers within Academies have moved across from the maintained sector and will already be registered with the Council. We will continue to promote the unencumbered movement of teachers between schools and Academies—most teachers are, therefore, likely to remain registered with the GTC. There would be little incentive for them not to do so.

There is certainly no bar on teachers in Academies registering with the Council if they decide it is in their interest to do so. I can also confirm that many Academies have decided that it is right actually to require that their teachers should be registered. The Government will continue to encourage Academies to register new and existing staff with the Council.

Adult/Community Learning

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she has taken to encourage schools, including schools which do not fall under local authority control, to make their facilities available for use by the wider community. [8796]

Beverley Hughes: We have recently issued an extended schools prospectus, which sets out our expectation that schools will need to consult with parents, young people and the wider community on making the best use of their facilities to the community. We want all schools to enable pupils, parents, families and the wider community to access a core range of services by 2010. The core offer will include schools providing wider community access to ICT, sports, arts and other facilities including adult learning. The prospectus gives some helpful pointers to schools as to how to start developing services, including the need to consult with the wider community to ensure they provide services that meet local needs and demand. Schools can play an important role in supporting their local communities, on key issues such as poverty, community cohesion and neighbourhood regeneration. The prospectus is available on our Teachernet website, together with further guidance, practical advice and case studies. We are adding to this material all the time as work develops.
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We have committed additional funding to support schools in developing extended services. The Department has made approximately £160 million of funding available since 2003 and we will be making a further £680 million available over the 2006–08 period including £250 million that will go direct to all schools.

The Department has also asked the National Remodelling Team to take a lead role in supporting local authorities and schools through the development of extended services, and we are also funding ContinYou" to run the Extended Schools Support Service, to offer further practical help.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her Department's priorities are for the provision of adult and community learning; and what targets have been set. [8870]

Phil Hope: The priorities for adult and community learning provided through local education authorities remain (i) to sustain a wide range of learning opportunities to gain skills for personal and community development and (ii) to provide opportunities for those who want a first step" on the learning ladder before committing themselves to further learning leading to qualifications. There are no specific targets for adult and community learning.

The Department for Education and Skills will shortly receive proposals from the LSC on the reform of the funding and planning arrangements for learning which does not lead directly to qualifications. This includes First Steps and Personal and Community Development Learning for Adults. The proposals will cover such provision both by local education authorities and further education colleges. The objectives of the reforms are: to maintain the safeguard for the continued availability of courses for personal and community development set out in the 2003 and 2005 Skills White Papers; to fund first steps learning" on the same basis regardless of the provider; to ensure an equitable distribution of public funding between geographical areas; and a proper balance between public funding, and financial contributions by individuals.

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