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Jacqui Smith: Academies are state funded independent schools. As such they operate outside the control of the local authority. Academies operate in accordance with their Funding Agreement and Memorandum and Articles of Association. These give them freedoms that do not apply to maintained schools, in particular:
Academies are their own employing body, and so are free to employ their own staff and set their pay and conditions (subject to the requirements of the Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment Regulations 1981 for staff transferring from a predecessor school).
An Academy does not have to follow the national curriculum but is free to develop its own, so long as it is broad and balanced. However, the core subjects of the national curriculum (English, Maths and Science) must be taught to pupils in years 711.
Academies have flexibility in admissions arrangements, but must comply with the School Admissions Code of Practice and provide education for pupils drawn wholly or mainly from the area in which the Academy is situated.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many of the expressions of interest that her Department received in establishing academies were from the private sector. 
Jacqui Smith: Out of 68 live academy projects, 31 Expressions of Interest involved sponsorship from a private company or individual. The remainder were sponsored by charitable trusts or faith groups, some of the members of which have had a background business. A further 13 Expressions of Interest involving sponsorship from a private company or individual are currently under consideration.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research (a) her Department and (b) the Learning and Skills Council has conducted on the (i) ability and (ii) willingness of (A) individuals and (B) employers to pay increased fees for adult education courses. 
My Department recently commissioned a public poll asking people about their attitudes towards fees in the learning and skills sector. We intend to publish a report of the findings on the Department's website on the 11 November. Other research includes a study of learners (Study of Learners in Further Education (2003)) to ascertain the financial circumstances of learners in FE; and a Prior Qualifications of Adult Learners survey which includes questions about learner attitudes to contributing to the costs of their learning. We have also commissioned two surveys (Fees in CollegesA Review Of The Use Of Discretionary Fee Remission In Further Education (2003); and FE Colleges Fee Charging Policy and Practice (1999)) about fee policies and practices from the college's
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perspective. DfES published research findings are available on the Department's website at dfes.gov.uk/research/.
The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is currently researching the impact of new fee policies in the further education sector. LSC published research findings are available on their websitelsc.gov.uk.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what changes there have been in funding for training organisations providing apprenticeships in the last five years. 
Phil Hope: Apprenticeships in England are funded through the work-based learning for young people budget of the Learning and Skills Council. This budget covers apprenticeships, advanced apprenticeships, NVQ learning and entry to employment. The following shows estimated spending by the LSC since it was established in 2001.
Total WBL budget
|Estimated apprenticeship spend|
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the percentage of the population who lack basic skills, broken down by (a) 18 to 24, (b) 25 to 29, (c) 30 to 34, (d) 35 to 39, (e) 40 to 44, (f) 45 to 49, (g) 50 to 54, (h) 55 to 59, (i) 60 to 64, (j) 65 to 69 and (k) 70 to 75 age groups. 
The Skills for Life Survey: A national needs and impact survey of literacy, numeracy and ICT skills" (DfES, October 2003) provides the latest estimates of literacy and numeracy levels across
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England. The survey assessed the literacy, numeracy and ICT skills of around 8,000 adults aged between 16 and 65 in England.
The survey findings are shown in the following tables. The age groups in the published data are slightly wider than those requested, at 10 years rather than five, to ensure sufficient sample in each age group to provide a robust estimate. The data also include adults up to age 65 only.
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The assessment levels correspond to the literacy and numeracy National Standards: these were introduced in 2002 to provide a framework for all adult screening tests, diagnostic tools, programmes of study and qualifications. Learners are assessed for levels of literacy and numeracy from Entry Level 1 to Level 2. Level 2 is broadly equivalent to a higher grade GCSE (A*-C).
|Total (n=7874)||16 to 24 (n=1057)||25 to 34 (n=1774)||35 to 44 (n=2044)||45 to 54 (n=1509)||55 to 65 (n=1488)|
|Entry Level 1 or below||3||1||2||2||3||3|
|Entry Level 2||2||3||3||3||4||4|
|Entry Level 3||11||9||9||10||12||15|
|Level 2 or above||44||43||47||46||45||38|
|Total (n=8040)||16 to 24 (n=1092)||25 to 34 (n=1764)||35 to 44 (n=2092)||45 to 54 (n=1551)||55 to 65 (n=1538)|
|Entry Level 1 or below||5||5||4||5||6||8|
|Entry Level 2||16||15||14||15||16||19|
|Entry Level 3||25||29||24||24||24||26|
|Level 2 or above||25||24||29||27||26||20|
Departmental school design guidelines and funding allocations allow for the provision of full kitchen facilities if required by the school or authority. Central Government capital support for investment in schools has increased from under £700 million in 199697 to £5.5 billion this year and will rise further to £6.3 billion by 200708. The primary capital programme of £150 million in 200809 and £500 million in 200910 will support a programme to renew at least half of all primary schools over the next 15 years.
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