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Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether Twenty-First Century Science and Science for the Citizen will maintain the breadth and depth of the existing curriculum; and what the syllabus is for the two qualifications. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether she plans to amend the legislation governing (a) the admissions arrangements
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and (b) the curriculum of the remaining selective grammar schools in England; and if she will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 31 October 2005]: Under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, it is for local parents to decide whether their local grammar schools should continue to select on the basis of academic ability. Selective schools are required to teach the full National Curriculum; like other maintained schools. We have no plans to legislate to change this.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many people were employed by the
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Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and its predecessor bodies in each year since 1996 (a) in total and (b) broken down by directorate; 
(2) what remuneration was received by (a) the chairman, (b) the chief executive and (c) the directors of the component directorates of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and its predecessor bodies in each year since 1996; 
(3) how trustees of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust are appointed; and what (a) remuneration and (b) expenses are received by members of the Trustee Council of the Specialist Schools Trust; 
Jacqui Smith: The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT), and its predecessor bodies, is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Although the Department for Education and Skills grant funds the trust to carry out work on its behalf, SSAT also receives income from other sources.
The Department has no official representation on the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Council. In respect of the renaming of the trust, the cost of the transition is a matter for SSAT. My officials are discussing with SSAT what grant the Department might give to SSAT to support the transition and ongoing academies work.
The other questions asked are matters for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. As a charitable trust and limited company SSAT publishes accounts which will have answers to some of the questions.
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Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which organisations have expressed an interest in sponsoring the non-residential summer schools for gifted and talented pupils. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 1 November 2005]: This proposal in the White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All" is in an early stage of development. We have not yet invited expressions of interest in sponsoring non-residential summer schools for gifted and talented pupils. We shall announce further details in due course.
Jacqui Smith: Schools and local authorities have considerable resources available to them: since 1997/98, funding per pupil has increased in real terms by 36 per cent. The Department's strategy to improve school attendance is proving successful: absences from school have fallen for four consecutive years to record low levels. There are 50,000 more pupils in school each day than would be the case if absence rates were still at 2000/01 levels. Tackling truancy, particularly persistent truancy, requires carefully focused work by schools working in partnership with their local authorities and other agencies, as set out in Every Child Matters" and Youth Matters".
In 2005/06, 450 secondary schools are receiving additional funding for measures to improve pupils' behaviour and attendance through the Behaviour Improvement Programme. In addition, we continue to support work in all parts of the country to improve attendance through funding for behaviour and attendance consultants in every local authority and the provision of expert advisers within the national strategies.
Jacqui Smith: The Schools Commissioner will encourage potential Trusts to focus their interest on weaker schools and schools in disadvantaged areas which are in greatest need of support. Trust schools, like all maintained schools, are required to comply with the law on admissions and to have regard both to the School Admissions Code of Practice and to their Admission Forum's advice. They must participate in co-ordinated admission arrangements and may be subject to investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman if parents complain of either maladministration or of unfair treatment.
The promoters of new trust schools will need to consult on their plans and publish statutory proposals. Those proposals will set out the
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characteristics of the school, including the proposed admission arrangements, and details of the trust itself. In future local authorities will decide proposals for new schools, including trust schools, having regard to guidance from the Secretary of State. In deciding proposals for a new school the local authority would take into account a range of factors including, for example, parental demand and the contribution that the school would make to raising standards, increasing diversity and improving community cohesion.
Where the governing body of an existing school proposes to acquire a trust, it will consult and publish statutory proposals, setting out details of the proposed trust and the rationale for acquiring it. It will normally be for individual governing bodies to decide such proposals, but where the governing body has failed to take proper account of the views of a majority of parents or there are serious concerns about the impact of the acquisition of the trust on school standards, the local authority may refer the proposals to the schools adjudicator whose decision on them will be final.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many hours per year her Department recommends is spent teaching pupils for a (a) GCSE course and (b) General National Vocational Qualification course. 
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