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24 Oct 2005 : Column 143W—continued

Looked-after Children

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to introduce nutrition standards for meals provided in (a) children's homes and (b) other accommodation for looked-after children. [20489]

Jacqui Smith: Standards and guidance already exist aimed at ensuring food provided to looked-after children in children's homes is of an adequate standard. The National Minimum Standards for Children's Homes" under section 23(1) of the Care Standards Act 2000 require that

In addition, nutritional and practical guidelines were issued by The Caroline Walker Trust in conjunction with the Department of Health, Food Standards Agency and British Heart Foundation in Eating well for looked-after children and young people". Early this year we issued Healthy Care publications with the National Children's Bureau. The publications include Healthy Care Briefings which address food and training materials for use with foster carers and residential social workers, to improve the understanding of the role of carers in promoting children's health and well-being.

A review of all National Minimum Standards for children's services is planned and nutrition for looked after children will be considered as part of that exercise.

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research her Department has commissioned on the outcomes for looked-after
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children at various stages in their lives after they have left the care system; and if she will make a statement. [18587]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 14 October 2005]: Transitional Support for Care Leavers: An Evaluation of Costs and Outcomes" is the most recent research commissioned by the Department on the outcomes for care leavers. The study, led by the university of York, investigated the plans and support for young people aged 16–19 who were in the process of leaving the care of seven local authorities. The study is currently being written up for publication and will be published in 2006. In addition, Professor Harriet Ward and her colleagues at Loughborough university are about to undertake a new research study, Looking After Children: Cohort Studies". These cohort studies will follow up a sample of care leavers approximately two years after they have ceased to be looked after.

Mathematics Centre of Excellence

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the new National Centre of Excellence in Maths Teaching. [18388]

Jacqui Smith: The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, being established as part of the Government's response to Professor Adrian Smith's report 'Making Mathematics Count', will help to improve children's and young people's enjoyment of and attainment in mathematics by improving the skills and knowledge of their teachers.

Working closely with other partners, including the Training and Development Agency for Schools and the National Strategies, the National Centre will support, broker and quality assure continuing professional development, it will build on and enhance existing provision as well as identifying gaps and needs and developing appropriate solutions. It will have a role in stimulating demand among teachers.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education announced the successful bidder for the National Centre on 6 October 2005. Contract negotiations are now under way and the centre is expected to launch in the summer of 2006.

Ministerial Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many air miles were accrued through departmental ministerial travel in 2004–05, broken down by Minister; how many were (a) foregone and (b) donated to charity, broken down by charity; and whether air miles accrued by officials were required to be (i) foregone and (ii) given to charity. [17320]

Maria Eagle: The information on the number of air miles accrued is not held centrally and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

Ministerial travel is conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code" and Travel by Ministers". Guidance for Ministers on the use of air miles is set out in the Ministerial Code. The guidance makes clear that air miles should be used only for official purposes or else foregone. However, if it is impracticable to use the
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benefits for Government travel, there is no objection to Ministers donating them to charity if this is permissible under the terms of the airline's scheme and the charity is one chosen by the airline.

Similar rules are in place for officials.

Missing Children

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children were reported as missing (a) in England and Wales and (b) for each police authority in each year since 1997. [20662]

Maria Eagle: Statistics on the numbers of all children who are reported as missing are not collected centrally. We do know that around 800–900 children are reported missing from care each year in England. Children's Society estimates that each year in the UK 100,000 children run away or are forced to leave home to escape problems.

The Home Office has been working with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the National Missing Persons Helpline to establish joint working arrangements to improve the recording, sharing and exchange of information, to improve the way in which missing persons are dealt with, and to inform our understanding of the problem in order to develop strategies to address it. Part of this work includes establishment of a comprehensive national police database of missing and unidentified people reported either to the police or the Helpline.

Responsibility for relevant figures in Wales is a matter for the administration for Wales.

National Centre for Languages

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the position of the UK in the recent report by the National Centre for Languages. [20957]

Jacqui Smith: We are aware of the booklet, 'Talking World Class', published by CILT, the National Centre for Languages and how it highlights the impact of language skills on the UK economy and questions how well equipped UK companies are to do business in other languages. One feature of the booklet is the survey which shows an aggregate of non-mother tongue skills in each of the participating 28 countries.

Our National Languages Strategy, published in December 2002, recognises the critical role that business can play in influencing young people's career choices, extending opportunities and promoting the value and importance of languages in the workplace. That is why we have funded CILT, the National Centre for Languages to work with employers to embed language skills into wider social and economic agendas, to extend employer engagement, and to stimulate and support the match of need by provision of training for their employees.

CILT is also funded by the Sector Skills Development Agency to create a Languages Strategy for the Skills for Business Network to ensure that Sector Skills Councils and employers take languages into account in their business planning.
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The Department has also funded the British Chambers of Commerce to manage a programme of regional seminars to promote the value of languages for small and medium sized business and to raise the profile of the National Languages Strategy and the Regional Languages Networks with employers across the country.

To raise awareness among young people of how languages can increase their employability prospects the Department has funded CILT to publish a suite of materials—Languages Work. A key purpose of the materials is to make sure that key stage 3 pupils understand the importance of language skills in today's workplace and to provide them with the information about possible careers with languages so that they can make an informed choice about continuing to learn languages at key stage 4 and beyond. The cornerstone of our National Languages Strategy is to provide all pupils throughout key stage 2 with the opportunity to learn languages by the end of the decade. By introducing languages at an early age we believe that more young people will be enthused to choose to continue to learn languages beyond age 14, benefit from acquiring these marketable skills in their working lives and contribute to the country's global competitiveness.

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