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David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if she will make a statement on the reasons for the funding gap between school sixth forms and further education colleges in the (a) Carlisle and (b) Penrith and the Border constituencies; 
Beverley Hughes: The Department does not have information on what the funding gap is between school sixth forms and further education colleges in the (a) Carlisle and (b) Penrith and the Border constituencies specifically.
The current funding gap between school sixth forms and further education colleges has arisen due to a number of reasons including the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act and the removal of the incorporated FE sector funding systems from local authority control. This resulted in a divergence from local authority systems and funding differences. These differences were made more apparent when all post 16 funding became the responsibility of the Learning and Skills Council in 2001.
12 Sept 2005 : Column 2371W
Government have shown their commitment to Further Education (FE) through the unprecedented investment they are now making. Total funding for FE will increase by over £1 billion in 2005/06 compared to 2002/03a 25 per cent. cash increase.
The Government acknowledges that, despite this significant investment in FE and a narrowing of the difference between funding rates, there remains a funding gap between school sixth forms and colleges. We must be clear that continuing progress on narrowing the gap will not be easy and will depend on the resources available. However, as signalled in the Minister of State for Schools and 1419 Learning's statement to the House of Commons 21 July we intend to explore the scope for addressing the technical anomalies between the school sixth form and further education funding systems. We aim to announce decisions on the way forward in the autumn.
Beverley Hughes: Decisions on school amalgamations in England are taken by locally constituted School Organisation Committees (SOCs). Since 2002 SOCs have approved the amalgamation of 189 small primary schools and 11 small secondary schools. The Department defines a small primary school as a school that has less than 200 pupils and a small secondary schools as one that has less than 600 pupils.
These figures include amalgamations either by closing two schools and establishing one new school; or closing one school and expanding another to accommodate displaced pupils.
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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations she has received regarding the provision of day care in East Sussex; and if she will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The Department's Correspondence Handling System currently only holds electronic records dating back to January 2003, in line with our records and retention schedule which has been agreed with the National Archive. Since then the Department has received and responded to 1,921 official correspondence cases relating to East Sussex. Of these only one appears to relate to the provision of day care. This case specifically concerned the closure of a nursery in Langley in May 2005. Further information can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
The Department has consulted nationally on the recent Government 10-year child care strategy Choice for Parents, the best start for children" which was launched in December 2004. This confirmed that legislation will be in place by 2008 to impose a new duty on local authorities to secure sufficient supply of child care in their areas to meet the needs of families.
Jacqui Smith: The information requested is only available from 199899 as before that Southend was part of Essex county council. The following table shows the grants that have been paid directly by the Department.
|Teacher Threshold and Performance Pay Grants||||||0.84||1.59||1.88||2.37||2.62|
|Sure Start Grants (including Nursery Education Grants ) 3, 4||0.86||0.76||1.78||1.41||1.69||1.13||1.49|
|Education Action Zones||||0.22||0.72||0.85||1.00||0.89||0.57|
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list (a) the special advisers in her Department, (b) their specific areas of expertise and (c) the total cost of employing them in the latest year for which figures are available. 
Maria Eagle: Arranging provision for children with special educational needs (SEN) is a matter for schools and local education authorities (LEAS), within the framework set out in the Education Act 1996 and taking account of statutory guidance, such as the SEN Code of Practice. More broadly, LEAs have statutory duties to provide sufficient schools and to keep their arrangements for SEN under review.
Under the Learning and Skills Act 2000 the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) must have regard to the needs of people with learning difficulties and or disabilities. The LSC is aware of the need to secure sufficient quantity, and appropriate quality, of provision for this group of learners and has commissioned an independent review of the planning and funding of provision. The review is due to report in September, following which there will be a wide consultation on the implementation of its recommendations.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her Department's policy is on funding for children with special needs in cases where children placed in higher bands for funding purposes attend moderate learning difficulty schools. 
Maria Eagle [holding answer 18 July 2005]: The majority of funding for schoolsmainstream and specialis provided by central Government through local authority (LA) formula spending shares, with LAs providing the rest through the council tax.
Funding is distributed to schools on the basis of funding formulae devised by LAs, which calculate the budget share for each of their schools. It is for each LA to devise and revise its own school funding formula, taking account of local needs and circumstances. For special schools, including schools for pupils with moderate learning difficulties, most funding is place-led, with the number of places agreed with the LA. The cost of planned places will depend on the complexity of the learning needs the schools have to address. LAs should review the number of planned places and their funding levels each year, in partnership with their special schools.
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