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Academy Courses (London West)

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of the overall capital funding in the London West Learning and Skills Council (LSC) area is expected to be spent on the proposed 16 to 19 academy based on Brunel university's Uxbridge campus; and whether the proportions involved are consistent with the criteria applied to other LSC funded institutions. [19522]

Bill Rammell: The Brunel HSBC Education Trust Academy project is currently in the feasibility stage of development (currently planned to open in September 2008), where its viability is assessed and consulted on with local stakeholders. If the project is deemed to be feasible it will be submitted to the LSC and the Secretary of State for approval. The LSC have agreed to provide up to 35 per cent. of the capital costs of the project but a precise figure for this will not be known until the main design stage of the feasibility phase is completed, which is expected to be around March 2006. This proportion is consistent with the criteria applied to other LSC funded institutions.

A-level Grades

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what assessment she has made of the relative accuracy of A-level grade predictions made for the purpose of university admissions in the case of (a) pupils in the independent and state school sectors and (b) pupils from different socio-economic groups; [17316]

(2) what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the accuracy of A-level grade predictions, with particular reference to the relative accuracy of grade predictions in the state and independent sectors. [17317]

Bill Rammell: The Department commissioned an analysis of data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service on predicted A-level grades to inform the consultation on Improving the Higher Education Applications Process which was published on 9 September. The analysis has also been published and is available on the UCAS website.

The research found that: over half of all predicted grades were inaccurate; applicants from the lower socio-economic groups were more likely to receive an incorrect predicted grade than applicants from higher
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groups; 10.2 per cent. of applicants from the lowest 1 socio-economic group received under-predicted grades compared to 7.5 per cent. of the highest group (in terms of over-prediction, these proportions are 50.5 per cent. and 41.1 per cent. respectively); and applicants from independent and grammar schools are more likely to receive accurate grades than those at maintained schools.

Internal analysis of the same data was conducted by the Department and this informed the consultation document (a copy of this analysis has been placed in the House of Commons Library). It shows that a number of factors have a bearing on the accuracy of predictions, and bears out the assessment that there is an appreciable chance that predicted grades do not accurately foreshadow actual grades. This is a concern for students whatever their background and whether they received over- or under-predictions.

It is clear from the research that some are disadvantaged more than others. One such group are students from lower socio-economic groups for whom, because of their generally lower levels of attainment, predicted grades are more likely to be inaccurate—and so the present system is least fair to the poorest students.

Basic Skills Training

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the eligibility criteria are for receiving free basic skills training at further education colleges. [19204]

Bill Rammell: For individuals eligible for Learning and Skills Council (LSC) funding basic skills provision is free to the learner. I refer the hon. Member to the LSC's publication 'Funding Guidance for Further Education in 2004/05' and the supplementary publication 'Funding Guidance for Further Education in 2005/06' which sets out fully the eligibility criteria. Copies have been placed in the House Libraries.

Communication Aids Project

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to extend funding for the Communication Aids Project beyond March 2006; and what steps she will take to safeguard the improvements secured by the Communication Aids Project if funding is to cease. [18348]

Maria Eagle: We will be reviewing the case for further funding for the Communication Aids Project (CAP) in the months to come, as part of a wider review of Government expenditure plans. The review of CAP funding will consider all relevant factors including lessons learnt to date and how best to maintain momentum.


Mr. Shepherd: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when the Minister of State for Schools will give a substantive reply to the letter of 22 June from the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills in respect of Dr. David Cooper. [19071]

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Jacqui Smith [holding answer 18 October 2005]: I replied to the hon. Member's letter of 22 June on 19 October.

Faith Schools

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will take steps to stop the expansion in the number of faith schools. [17635]

Jacqui Smith: The Government believes parents should have a range of schools to choose from, including faith schools. We welcome more faith schools in the maintained sector providing they have the support of parents and the local community. Decisions about the establishment of new faith schools are made at local level by the School Organisation Committee which takes into account the views of local people. Where the Committee is unable to reach a unanimous decision an independent schools adjudicator determines the proposals.

Foreign Languages

Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many A-level students sat examinations in (a) French, (b) German, (c) Spanish, (d) Russian, (e) Mandarin and (f) Arabic in each year since 2001. [17523]

Jacqui Smith: The number of GCE A-level examination entries in England in the foreign languages requested can be found as follows.
Foreign language entries of 16 to 18-year-olds, 2001–04



Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many and what proportion of pupils took (a) GCSE and (b) A level geography in each year since 1995. [17949]

Jacqui Smith: The number and proportion of pupils who took GCSE and A-level geography in each year since 1995 was:

(22)Figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred.

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Graduate Employment

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research her Department has commissioned into employment rates of graduates; and if she will make a statement. [15498]

Bill Rammell: Graduates have very high employment rates, reflecting the economy's strong demand for these higher level skills that are developed through participation in higher education. Graduates are significantly more likely than non-graduates to be in work, as well as enjoying greater pay and wider benefits like better health.

Data from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey measures first degree graduate activity at a point six months after graduation. The most recent information, covering students who graduated in 2003/04, shows that 64 per cent. were in employment, 15 per cent. were undertaking further study, 9 per cent. were combining work with further study, and just 7 per cent. were unemployed. The remainder were not available for employment for various reasons.

The survey data also shows early indication that students who have studied shorter, more vocationally oriented courses such as Foundation Degrees are less likely to be unemployed than other graduates. This is very encouraging as most of the future growth in student numbers will come through these courses. The data on Foundation Degree graduates show: 36 per cent. were in employment, 33 per cent. were in further study, 26 per cent. were in employment and study, and 3 per cent. were unemployed, six months after leaving their course.

However, the main drawback of using the DLHE survey is that it is only a snapshot of the activity of graduates six months after graduation, which is not necessarily representative of their long-term employability. A study of the early careers of a sample of 1995 graduates shows employment rates rising rapidly in the months and years shortly following graduation, as the new graduates integrate into the labour market. By seven years after graduation, the overwhelming majority of graduates are in paid work or study, while just 1–2 per cent. of graduates remain unemployed 1 .

A study that tracks the labour market outcomes of 1999 graduates up to four years after graduation will be published on the 27 October 2005.

A cross-section of all (both recent and experienced) graduates in the labour market is available from the Labour Force Survey. Spring 2005 data shows that the employment rate of those with NVQ Level 4 and above as their highest qualification is significantly higher than those with lower qualifications.

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Employment and unemployment rates by highest qualification, England, spring 2005

Employment rateUnemployment rate
NVQ Level 4 and above873
NVQ Level 3783
NVQ Level 2765
Below NVQ Level 2736
No qualifications489

LFS, Spring 2005. Working-age population only.

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