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12 Oct 2005 : Column 529W—continued

EU Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many meetings of the (a) EU Contact Committee for implementation of the Television without Frontiers Directive, (b) EU Committee for the implementation of the training programme for professionals in the European audiovisual programme industry and of the programme to encourage the development, distribution and promotion of European audiovisual works (MEDIA II) and (c) EU Committee for the implementation of the programme establishing a single financing and programming instrument for cultural co-operation (Culture 2000) are planned for the UK presidency of the EU; who will be presiding over each meeting; which other UK representatives will be present; what provision is in place for representation of the devolved governments; and if she will make a statement. [16461]

James Purnell: I have been asked to reply.

All of the Committee meetings listed are convened and chaired by the European Commission, regardless of which country holds the Presidency of the EU.

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Free Fruit (Schools)

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what age groups of school children are eligible for free fruit at school; and what plans there are for extending this entitlement. [16012]

Caroline Flint: I have been asked to reply.

Children aged four to six attending local education authority (LEA)-maintained infant, primary and special schools are eligible to receive a fresh piece of fruit or vegetable each school day provided that their school has chosen to participate in the school fruit and vegetable scheme.

The fruit and vegetables are for whole classes so in effect all children in reception, year one and year two classes are benefiting even though some children may fall outside of the stipulated age range.

As at February 2005, close to 2 million children in over 16,000 schools were benefiting from the scheme.

There was a commitment in the "Choosing Health" White Paper to consider extending the school fruit and vegetable scheme to stand alone LEA-maintained nurseries once the results from a large-scale evaluation were published this year. The results were published in September and the Department is currently considering this extension.
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GCSE Curriculum

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans her Department has to ensure the curriculum development in core GCSE subjects keeps pace with the projected skills demand of UK businesses. [16556]

Jacqui Smith: The recent 14–19 Education and Skills White Paper clearly states that the reforms it sets out are vital to our economy by equipping young people with the skills employers need and that all learning programmes should have clear progression routes to further learning.

We believe that a strong grounding in functional English, maths and ICT are essential skills that all young people need to participate effectively in everyday life, including the workplace. To secure these skills we are toughening GCSEs so that, in future, no-one will be able to get a higher grade in English and maths without achieving mastery of the functional basics. We are also introducing a new general diploma to recognise the achievement of those who achieve five good GCSEs or equivalent—including English and maths.

We are continuing work to reform mathematics, as proposed in our response to Professor Adrian Smith's inquiry, improving motivation and progression to advanced level. This includes:

The Ten Year Science and Innovation Investment Framework published last year set out the our strategy for sustaining a strong supply of scientists and engineers. The new programme of study for science at Key Stage 4 being introduced from next September will help pupils to understand key scientific concepts and scientific and technological developments in society.

To ensure that this is successful, the key stage 3 review will:

Homophobic Bullying

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what professional in-service training sessions her Department is providing to teachers and head teachers (a) to enable them to
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challenge homophobic bullying in schools and (b) to improve the academic attainment and truancy rates of gay and lesbian pupils. [16342]

Jacqui Smith: Tackling homophobia in schools is an issue that is taken seriously by the Department We want to ensure that all pupils, whatever their sexual orientation, are safe at school, want to be there, and are able to reach their full educational potential. For this, head teachers and teachers need the right mix of skills and knowledge, and the confidence to use them.

Our Make The Difference anti-bullying conference programme which ran from 2003–04 in each of the nine Government Office regions was targeted at head teachers. The conferences celebrated and shared good practice in preventing and addressing bullying and offered all schools an opportunity to learn at first hand from the very successful. The conference workshops supported schools in addressing aspects such as homophobic bullying, which many schools can find especially challenging.

The Department has also developed a Personal Social Health Education Continuing Professional Development video which shows good teaching practice, this covers the handling of sensitive issues including sexuality and homophobia. The PSHE CPD programme is ongoing to help teachers improve their confidence and competence in dealing with sensitive issues including sexuality.

Language Teaching

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the languages taught at GCSE level or equivalent; and how many students sat a GCSE in each in 2004–05. [16076]

Jacqui Smith: The figures requested for 2005 (academic year 2004/05) are not yet available; the following table shows the numbers of attempts by 15-year-old pupils in all schools in England at GCSEs in each modern foreign language in 2004 (academic year 2003/04).
Modern Greek519
Modern Hebrew413

1. For each subject, only one attempt per pupil is counted.
2. Ages are as at the beginning (i.e. 31 August) of the academic year.

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Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 18 July 2005, Official Report, column 1407W, on primary schools language tuition, (1) whether extra-curricular provision of language learning is included within the figure provided; [16434]

(2) what estimate her Department has made of the proportion of primary schools which offer within their curriculum more than 20 minutes teaching a week in a modern language; [16435]

(3) what proportion of primary schools taught (a) French, (b) Spanish, (c) German, (d) Italian and (e) other languages in 2002/03. [16438]

Jacqui Smith: The answer of 18 July 2005, Official Report, column 1407W, outlined that, based on research carried out for the DfES in 2002/03, 44 per cent. of schools teaching Key Stage 2 pupils (ages 7–11) offered some form of language learning, including extra-curricular classes. That research also highlighted that approximately 3 per cent. of schools were offering language learning programmes within curriculum time to all year groups in Key Stage 2 for more than 20 minutes a week. The same research concluded that (a) 40 per cent. of primary schools taught French to their pupils, (b) 6 per cent. of schools taught Spanish, (c) 4 per cent. taught German, (d) 2 per cent. taught Italian and (e) 1 per cent. taught other languages.

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