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Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent discussions she has had with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority on reform of the examination system; and if she will make a statement. 
Ministers in the Department have regular discussions with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) on a range of issues, including reform of the examinations system. We have provided funding for the QCA to work with others to ensure we have an examination system fit for the 21st century.
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Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All, whether the additional flexibilities for trust schools would be available to foundation schools applying for additional freedoms under the Education Act 2002. 
Jacqui Smith: All schools, as now, would be eligible to apply for additional freedoms under the Education Act 2002. Subject to legislation, we propose that trusts would be able to apply for such freedoms on behalf of all their schools.
|Number of 15-year-olds (thousand)||Percentage of 15-year-olds|
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her assessment is of the (a) availability and (b) standards of the teaching of geography at (i) secondary and (ii) primary schools. 
The latest Ofsted report published on 19 October reveals an improvement in the quality of teaching of geography since 1998/99. The number of schools where teaching of geography is rated good or excellent has risen by 12 per cent. in primary schools and by 7 per cent. in secondary schools over this period. Geography also remains a popular choice at GCSE.
Jacqui Smith: The national gifted and talented education programme is targeted broadly at the top 10 per cent. by ability aged 5 to 19 in every maintained school and college in England. Taking an average figure of 650,000 per year group nationally, we estimate that 65,000 in every year group fall potentially within the scope of the programme: perhaps 700,000 to 800,000 in total.
Jacqui Smith: In the academic year 2004/05, 1,784 maintained secondary schools and 306 non-maintained secondary schools in England successfully nominated at least one pupil to the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to her answer on 25 October 2005, Official Report, column 213W, what assessment she has made of (a) whether the good practice published on www.teachernet.gov.uk/faithschools has been adopted and (b) the subsequent outcomes in terms of educational achievement against the Government's definition of educational achievement. 
Jacqui Smith: We intend to update the Faith Schools website once a year with more examples of good practice that have been adopted in practice. We have recently asked the faith groups that provide maintained schools to provide the information which we will add to the current articles.
The examples on the website are intended to encourage faith schools to be inclusive and contribute to community cohesion. We do not gather information from individual schools on whether they have adopted the good practice or the impact on outcomes in terms of educational achievement. Evaluation of educational achievement is Ofsted's role.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to ensure equal access to subject choice for (a) GCSE and (b) A-level students of differing abilities in the London borough of Havering; and if she will make a statement. 
The national curriculum is designed to be suitable and accessible for all young people. The changes the Government made in 2004 to key stage 4 of the national curriculum were introduced so that all young people would have access to a broad and balanced curriculum as well as greater flexibility and choice, including the option to pursue more vocational courses. Similarly, reforms at advanced level provided for broader post-16 study including vocational options. Our 1419 Education and Skills and the recently published Schools White Paper explain how we will further extend parental and pupil choice. In addition, London Challenge, with the London Learning and
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Skills Councils and Government Office for London, has consulted on a London 1419 learner offer, which will be published this autumn. This creates a common framework across London to ensure that all learners have access to a core offer, building on the proposals in the 1419 Education and Skills White Paper.
Jacqui Smith: Our recent White Paper clearly reflects our recognition of the increasing freedoms and challenging environment in which we want schools to operate. I have asked the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) for its views on the extent to which the professional duties of teachers and the leadership group should be revised to reflect the focus on teaching and learning and the new professionalism agenda; the development of extended schools, including increased flexibilities in schools over opening times and out-of-hours activities; and the wider workforce. The STRB are intending to publish its advice in November. We will be considering the role of head teachers in the light of this advice.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance she has issued to local education authorities on the (a) frequency of and (b) level of detail required when monitoring cases of home education. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 31 October 2005]: My officials are drafting new guidelines for local authorities on home education, based on current local authority best practice. These will be issued in the spring. We anticipate that the guidelines will recommend that local authorities should normally make contact with home educators annually, although they may decide that individual children require more frequent monitoring. Each local authority makes its own decision about the information it requires from parents, but it should be sufficient to demonstrate that home educated children are making progress in line with their age, aptitude, ability, and any special needs they may have.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent representations she has received on the monitoring of children educated at home; and what requirements there are on a parent or carer to notify their relevant local authority on a decision to home educate. 
[holding answer 31 October 2005]: We are not aware of any recent representations on the tracking of children educated at home. My officials met with Education Otherwise Association Ltd. on 18 August 2004 to discuss the information sharing index, as provided for in the Children Act 2004, and any implications it may have for children educated at home.
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There is currently no legal requirement for parents or carers to notify their local authority of their decision to home educate. However, where parents or carers are withdrawing a child from school in order to educate at home, they have a duty to inform the school in writing. The school, in turn, is legally required to inform the local authority within 10 school days.
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