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2 Nov 2005 : Column 1181W—continued


Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of which additional resources may be required by Ofsted to enable it to investigate concerns raised by parents as proposed in her recent White Paper. [23947]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 1 November 2005]: We are working with Ofsted to ensure that these proposals are implemented effectively and that the resource requirements are considered as part of this process.

Parents' Councils

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms she will introduce to resolve potential disputes between governing bodies and the proposed parents' councils. [23337]

Jacqui Smith: We expect that governing bodies and parent councils will generally have a constructive relationship, and this has been the experience in a recent pilot project.

Parent councils are a structure for parents to raise issues and concerns, and for the governing body to consult with parents. Governing bodies will remain responsible and accountable in law for conducting the school. If the parent council were to disagree with a governing body decision, it would have access to the same complaints routes as an individual parent.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what powers she intends to give to the parents' councils proposed in her recent White Paper. [23341]

Jacqui Smith: Parent councils are intended to act as a formal channel for parental representation. Governing bodies will remain responsible and accountable in law
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for conducting the school and so parent councils will have a consultative and advisory role, rather than having decision-making powers.

In the broader context of the new duty on governing bodies to have regard to parents' views, parent councils are a means to strengthen the voice of parents, and to enable more parents to express their opinions and influence decisions, rather than a fundamental change in how decisions are taken within a school. Governing bodies will be expected to use the parent council (where there is one) as a means to seek views, as well as to listen if it raises its own issues and ideas. The new Ofsted self-assessment and inspection arrangements require schools to assess and demonstrate how well they listen to and act on parents' views.

Prince Henry's Grammar School, Otley

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if she will reconsider her decision not to award Prince Henry's Grammar School, Otley, a refurbishment grant; and for what reasons the refurbishment grant application was unsuccessful; [22608]

(2) for what reasons Prince Henry's Grammar School, Otley, was not eligible for the building schools for the future initiative; what assessment her Department has made of the number of schools which are ineligible for funding due to a high level of exam performance but which require refurbishment; and if she will make a statement. [22609]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 28 October 2005]: Every secondary school in the country is eligible for Building Schools for the Future (BSF) investment. It is a strategic programme that aims to rebuild or renew all secondary schools that need it over 15 years, subject to future public spending decisions. Local authorities and schools are being prioritised in accordance with the published criteria of relative educational and social need, based on the geographical groupings of schools proposed by local authorities. Prince Henry's Grammar School is currently prioritised to receive BSF investment in waves 13 to 15 of this programme.

Building Schools for the Future, however, is a long-term programme that represents around only 40 per cent. of our annual capital investment in schools. The majority of our remaining support is allocated directly to both authorities and schools to enable them to address their most pressing needs; including those schools which require refurbishment but are not prioritised for investment in the early years of BSF. Local authorities and schools prioritise the use of this funding in accordance with their locally prepared asset management plans. Leeds and its schools have been allocated over £70 million over the following three years to prioritise, and Prince Henry's Grammar School has been directly allocated £412,000 in devolved formula capital over the following three years.

With regard to Leeds' unsuccessful application for Targeted Capital Fund support for this school, our funding decisions are final, and my officials have already provided direct feedback to the authority as to why this particular application did not succeed in what is always a highly competitive bidding process.
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Pupil Attainment

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many pupils left school at 16 years with fewer than five A*-C GCSE grades in (a) Ribble Valley and (b) Lancashire in each of the last five years. [24314]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is given in the follow table.
Percentage of 15-year-olds(62) achieving less than five A*-C grades at GCSE and equivalent(63)

Ribble Valley parliamentary constituencyLancashire local authority

(62) 15-year-old pupils at the beginning of the academic year (ie 31 August).
(63) Figures are for GCSE and equivalent qualifications for 2004. All previous years are for GCSE/GNVQ only.
(64) 2004 is the latest available year for which figures are available at both parliamentary constituency and local authority level.

Pupil Expulsion

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what criteria are used to expel a pupil in (a) primary, (b) secondary and (c) upper schools. [22961]

Jacqui Smith: It is for each head teacher to decide when it is appropriate to exclude a pupil from school permanently, taking account of all the circumstances of the situation including the need to balance the interests of the pupil against those of the whole school community.

Head teachers must also have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State, which is applicable equally to all maintained schools, regardless of phase. The guidance states that a decision to exclude a pupil should be taken only in response to serious breaches of the school's behaviour policy and if allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school. Permanent exclusion will usually be the final step following a wide range of other strategies that have been tried without success. There are, however, some exceptional cases, which are listed in the guidance, where it is appropriate for a head teacher to exclude a pupil permanently for a first or one-off offence.

Pupil Grouping

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which Minister commissioned the review of the literature on the effects of pupil grouping published recently. [24515]

Jacqui Smith: The literature review on the effects of pupil grouping, which was published on 27 October 2005, is part of an ongoing research project on pupil grouping which was approved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke) and commissioned by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills.
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Pupil-teacher Ratio

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if the Government will take steps to employ more teachers to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio. [22720]

Jacqui Smith: Teacher numbers are now at their highest level since 1981. Improved pay and conditions and an attractive package of incentives for newly qualified teachers, supported by the recruitment activities of the Training and Development Agency for Schools, have raised the status of the profession and contributed to these record numbers. In primary schools, there was a drop in the number of pupils per qualified teacher between 2004 and 2005, from 22.7 to 22.5. In secondary schools, the number of pupils per qualified teacher decreased from 17.0 in 2004 to 16.7 in 2005. The overall PTR in maintained schools fell from 17.7 to 17.4.

It is for schools to decide their strategies and priorities for workforce deployment and many schools are employing staff other than teachers to support teachers and pupils as part of a professional school team. There are more support staff than ever before working in our schools, 268,600 (FTE), more than 25,000 more than there were a year ago. The number of FTE teaching assistants in particular has risen by over 11 per cent. this year—and the figure has more than doubled since 1997.

The large rise in support staff has led to an improvement in the pupil:adult ratio (PAR) in both the primary and secondary phases and, hence, overall. The primary PAR fell from 17.9 in 1997 to 13.4 in 2005, and in secondary from 14.5 to 12.2.

All figures obtained from the Annual Schools Census.

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