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12 Sept 2005 : Column 2354W—continued

Media Literacy

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how her Department defines media literacy. [14405]

Beverley Hughes: There is no single agreed definition of media literacy. OFCOM, the organisation whose duty it is to promote media literacy, define it as: the ability to access, understand and create communication in a variety of contexts.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether her Department has strategies for improving media literacy in (a) school education, (b) further and higher education and (c) adult education; and if she will make a statement. [14406]

Bill Rammell: There is a range of activity across the Department to support aspects of media literacy. It does not exist as a separate subject in the national curriculum but, as part of a wide ranging and comprehensive English curriculum, pupils should study the language of media to develop their critical faculties. Media literacy can also be part of the approach to teaching and learning in any subject and has particular relevance in History and Citizenship.

The Department's e-Strategy Harnessing Technology: Transforming Learning and Children's Services," supports the use of ICT, e-learning, Virtual Learning Environments, the internet, gaming, videoconferencing, the use of web cams and digital photography. The system-wide priorities and sector specific actions in this strategy will help provide the infrastructure to support media literacy. A copy of the strategy can be accessed at: www.dfes.gsi.gov.uk/publications/e-strategy

Programmes of study in higher education are a matter for individual institutions to determine and develop.

Under the Communications Act 2003 OFCOM (the independent regulator for the UK communications industries) has a statutory duty to promote better media literacy. As part of this activity OFCOM has been working with the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and its partners, including the Department, in Adult Learners' Week during May 2005, in which the promotion of media literacy was a central theme.

We will be seeking to work closely with DCMS and OFCOM to ensure that media literacy gains the appropriate focus in education.
 
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New Members

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will arrange a Tuesday morning briefing by Ministers and senior officials introducing the work of the Department to new hon. Members. [11029]

Bill Rammell: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 18 July 2005, Official Report, column 1281W by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

Nursery Places

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many (a) three and (b) four-year-old children in Southend West attended nursery in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available; [14126]

(2) how many children in Southend West have taken up free nursery places in each year since the policy was introduced; and if she will make a statement. [14127]

Beverley Hughes: All four-year-olds have been entitled to a free early education place since 1998 and from April 2004 this entitlement was extended to all three-year-olds. The free entitlement consists of a minimum of five two and a half hour sessions per week
 
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for 33 weeks of the year for six terms before statutory school age, which is the term following their fifth birthday.

Some local authorities may additionally offer subsidised child care places but this information is not collected centrally.

The latest provisional figures for January 2005 show that all four-year-old children receive some form of free entitlement. The figure for three-years-olds is 98 per cent. This covers all maintained, private, voluntary and independent providers and represents an estimated 546,400 three-year-olds and 573,500 four-year-olds.

Related information on the number of free nursery education places taken up by three and four-year-olds in Southend West parliamentary constituency area is only available for January 2004. These figures are shown in the table. The available information for Southend-on-Sea local education authority area since 1997 is also shown.

The latest figures on early education places for three and four-year-olds in England were published in Statistical First Release 18/2005 Provision for children under five years of age in England—January 2005 (provisional)" in May, which is available on the Department's website www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgatewav/.
Number of free nursery education places(48)taken up by three and four-year-olds Southend-on-Sea local education authority area.Position in January each year

3-year-olds
4-year-olds
Maintained nursery and primary schools(49)Other maintained
and private, voluntary
and maintained independent providers
Total
3-year-olds
Maintained nursery and primary schools(50)Other maintained
and private, voluntary
and maintained independent providers
Total
4-year-olds
1997210(51)210(51)(51)(52)1,900
1998250(51)250(51)(51)(52)2,100
1999390(51)390(51)(51)(52)2,200
2000450(53)0450(51)(51)(52)2,100
2001450(53)440890(51)(51)(52)2,100
2002490(53)7501,2001,600(52)4502,000
2003450(53)8701,3001,600(54)4802,100
2004450(55)1,1001,6001,500(56)5202,000


(48)Figures are rounded to the nearest 10 or 100 as appropriate.
(49)Headcount of children aged three at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Annual Schools' Census.
(50)Headcount of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Annual Schools' Census.
(51)Not available
(52)Part-time equivalent number of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Nursery Education Grant data collection exercise.
(53)Part-time equivalent number of children aged three at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Nursery Education Grant data collection exercise.
(54)Part-time equivalent number of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Early Years Census supplementary data collection exercise and the Annual Schools' Census.
(55)Part-time equivalent number of children aged three at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Early Years Census and the Annual Schools' Census.
(56)Part-time equivalent number of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Early Years Census and the Annual Schools' Census.



 
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Number of free nursery education places(57)taken up by three and four-year-olds Southend West parliamentary constituency Position in January 2004

3-year-olds
Maintained nursery and primary schools(58)150
Other maintained and private, voluntary and maintained independent providers(59)500
Total three-year-olds840
4-year-olds
Maintained nursery and primary schools(60)690
Other maintained and private, voluntary and maintained independent providers(61)290
Total 4-year-olds960


(57)Figures are rounded to the nearest 10 or 100 as appropriate.
(58)Headcount of children aged three at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Annual Schools' Census.
(59)Part-time equivalent number of children aged three at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Early Years Census and the Annual Schools1 Census.
(60)Headcount of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Annual Schools1 Census.
(61)Part-time equivalent number of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Early Years Census and the Annual Schools' Census.


Changes in pupil figures may arise from changes to the underlying population in the local education authority area and other factors. However, my Department doesn't publish population figures for individual age cohorts at sub-national level because of the unreliability of the underlying population estimates. The Office for National Statistics publish sub-national population estimates in five-year age bands.


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