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6 Jul 2005 : Column 442W—continued

Educational Buildings (Sprinkler Systems)

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make it her policy to make the fitting of sprinkler systems in educational buildings mandatory. [9641]

Jacqui Smith: Since April 2001, all new building work at schools has been subject to the Building Regulations, which are the responsibility of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). These regulations do not currently require the installation of sprinklers in schools, but that does not prohibit local education authorities from specifying their use.

We believe that the decision on whether to install sprinklers is best taken locally. For example, in our Managing School Facilities guide 6, Fire Safety", we give the example of a school in an area of high arson risk as being a suitable candidate for having sprinklers installed. However, we are mindful of the need to provide more detailed advice than before. Liaising with ODPM, we have therefore produced new draft guidance on fire safety—Building Bulletin (BB) 100, Designing and Managing Against the Risk of Fire in Schools". It stresses the value of using risk assessments to determine what sort of fire detection and alarm systems should be used in each school, and whether or not sprinklers should be installed. The draft of BB 100 will be going out to public consultation shortly and should be published by the end of 2005.

Concurrently ODPM is carrying out a review of the fire safety aspects of the Building Regulations and its accompanying guidance Approved Document B (AD B). We understand that this should be completed in the early part of 2006.

Essex Schoolchildren

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children of school age in Essex are not attending either a state school or a private school. [8836]

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Jacqui Smith: The information requested is shown in the table.
Pupils educated otherwise than at school under arrangements made by the local education authority(18)—January 2005

EnglandEssex local education authority
Pupils in hospital(19)2430
Other pupils not in school(20)16,741333
Total pupils not in school16,984333

(18)Pupils of compulsory school age (5–15) as at 31 August 2004.
(19)Includes non-statemented pupils in hospital excluding pupils in maintained general hospital or special hospital schools.
(20)Includes other pupils not in school e.g. pupils taught at home, Traveller children, asylum seekers at FE colleges or with voluntary sector providers.
8B Survey

Food Procurement

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent by her Department on public procurement of food in the most recent year for which figures are available; and what proportion of that expenditure was covered under Crown immunity on food safety matters. [5784]

Maria Eagle: The Department for Education and Skills spent on public procurement of food a total of £619,332.85 in the most recent year figures. The Crown is not immune" from the requirements of health and safety legislation generally. No proportion of the Department's expenditure on food and catering is therefore covered under Crown immunity.

Foster Care

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 29 June 2005, Official Report, columns 1623–24W, on foster care, what assessment she has made of the reasons for the change in the amount spent on external foster care. [10008]

Maria Eagle: Changes in the amount spent on external foster care reflect decisions made by individual local authorities about how best to provide care for the children for whom they are responsible. Over 40,000 looked after children (out of approximately 61,000 children who are looked after by local authorities at any one time) are placed with foster carers. Decisions about spending on specific categories of foster care are made at local level, in the light of children's individual circumstances and needs. However, the emergence in recent years of a market in foster care, comprising statutory sector, voluntary sector and independent sector providers, has contributed to the development of greater choice in placements for looked after children and helps ensure that specialised needs can be met. The Government have taken forward a number of strands of work to encourage more strategic approaches, at local level, to the commissioning of placements and services, and to encourage greater awareness and understanding among commissioners of the cost implications of placement decisions.
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Further Education Funding

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many local education authorities in England have received a reduced further education funding allocation in the 2005–06 settlement. [8500]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 30 June 2005]: Based upon current Learning and Skills Council records, 40 local education authorities in England have received a reduced further education funding allocation in the 2005–06 settlement in comparison with 2004–05.

Key Stage 4

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of work related learning at Key Stage 4 takes place (a) in the classroom and (b) in work placements. [10038]

Jacqui Smith: Schools are not required to maintain records on how work related learning is delivered at Key Stage 4. It is taught across the curriculum, using work contexts to enrich subject teaching. For example, visitors to the classroom and the use of business-related materials provide good opportunities for work related learning, so out of school experiences are not the only way to acquire work related learning.

Work experience is an essential element of the statutory requirement, and reaches over 90 pr cent. of students for between one and two weeks at Key Stage 4.

New Schools

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many competitions have been held by local education authorities to find alternative providers for new schools; and what the outcome was of each; [10005]

(2) what guidance has been issued to local education authorities on holding competitions for new and replacement schools. [10006]

Jacqui Smith: There have been no competitions held by local authorities to find alternative providers for new schools. The current requirement for local authorities to hold a competition applies only where a local authority intends to publish proposals for a new school that does not replace an existing secondary school. Provisions in the Education Act 2005 will require a competition whenever proposals are required for a new secondary school, including one replacing an existing school as a result of reorganisation, unless the Secretary of State agrees that in a particular case individual proposals are more appropriate.

Existing guidance on holding competitions for new schools is contained in the Information pack for Promoters and LEAs" issued in May 2003, and there is also information in the guidance for Decision Makers, which deals with statutory proposals of all kinds. Updated guidance on the new arrangements for school competitions will be issued, after consultation, when the extended provisions on school competitions are commenced.
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Parliamentary Government

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department is taking to promote (a) knowledge of and (b) interest in parliamentary Government through schools. [9931]

Jacqui Smith: Understanding the role and operation of Parliament and Government in our democracy is an important part of citizenship education. Pupils learn about the institutions, issues, and practices of our democracy and how citizens can become involved in their community. The Department has supported a range of projects to engage pupils in this learning. These include working with the Hansard Society to run Y Vote mock elections", giving pupils the opportunity to stand as party candidates, speech writers and canvassers in a mock election.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she expects to answer the Question reference 5018 tabled by the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton on 13 June. [10323]

Jacqui Smith: A response was issued on 5 July.

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