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7 Nov 2005 : Column 121W—continued

Grammar Schools (Northern Ireland)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to her oral answer to the hon. Member for South Antrim (Dr. McCrea) of 27 October 2005, Official Report, column 441, on the Education White Paper, what the basis was for her statement that the decision to abolish grammar schools in Northern Ireland was taken by the devolved assembly. [25293]

Jacqui Smith: A review of secondary education in Northern Ireland was in progress when the Assembly was suspended in October 2002. The Costello Group subsequently made its recommendations, and the decision to end academic selection was made by the Northern Ireland Office Minister, Jane Kennedy, rather
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than the devolved Assembly as originally stated. She announced this decision on 26 January, 2004, and the last transfer tests will be held in autumn 2008.

Homework Clubs

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much funding has been allocated to homework clubs in schools in (a) England, (b) Kent and (c) Sittingbourne and Sheppey in 2005–06. [24659]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not available. Homework clubs may form part of a school's or local authority's study support (out of school hours learning) programme, for which funding is available through their base budgets, and the school development grant (SDG). Schools and local authorities may
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use their SDG for any purposes linked to school improvement, and it is for them to determine the amount to be allocated to study support.

Study support forms an integral part of the Government's extended services agenda, which will require schools to offer a varied menu of activities from 8 am to 6 pm year round, including during school holidays. Additional funding of £680 million is being made available up to 2008 to support the start up of extended services in schools.

Inner City Academies

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) football and (b) cricket matches were played by inner city academies in the academic year 2004/05. [25629]

Jacqui Smith: The Department for Education and Skills does not hold this information.

Language Teaching

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to encourage more students in secondary schools to take language GCSEs. [25182]

Jacqui Smith: In March 2005 the Secretary of State for Education and Skills announced a £115 million Boost for Modern Foreign Languages", providing support for language teaching and learning for this and the next two years.

Part of that funding will support new approaches for teaching and learning for 11 to 18-year-olds, including alternative qualifications to traditional GCSEs and vocational options at key stage 4 which will provide more flexibility for pupils in their studies and meet the needs of a wider range of pupils. We have expanded the list of qualifications that count towards performance table scores to include more language qualifications. We are also funding a range of projects and materials to promote languages and to develop innovative curricular models which will be show-cased to provide schools with delivery ideas and support. For example, we funded CILT, the National Centre for Languages to produce 'Languages Work', a suite of materials designed to promote the value of language learning, support take up of languages beyond key stage 3, and how language skills can enhance future employability.

Last September the new languages recognition scheme, the languages ladder, became available nationally. The scheme can be used by learners of all ages and is available in eight languages. The scheme differs from existing approaches to assessment in that there are separate qualifications in each language for reading, writing, listening and speaking. The scheme can provide motivation and recognition of achievement at key stage 3, thus encouraging take up at key stage 4. Finally, the scheme can support language learning at key stage 4 within a wide range of learning pathways, including vocational and work-related contexts.
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Learning and Skills Council

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what change to the administration costs of the Learning and Skills Council she expects through the planned streamlining operation. [25128]

Bill Rammell: The LSC's core administration costs have fallen steadily from 4.6 per cent. of total funding in 2001–02, to 2.5 per cent. of its planned total budget in 2005–06. The LSC's administration budget for the next two years was set out in the Secretary of State's Grant Letter issued on 31 October 2005. This Grant Letter provides the LSC with just over £252 million (2.4 per cent. of planned total budget) for 2006–07 and just under £240 million (2.2 per cent. of planned total budget) for 2007–08 to cover its administration costs including the cost of capital and depreciation. This reflects efficiency savings already agreed. The overall administration budget will be reassessed when the results of the consultation on the LSC's Agenda for Change", particularly its restructuring, are finalised. At this stage further savings could be released to the sector.

Maintained Schools

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many independent schools have expressed an interest in joining the maintained sector in the last five years. [25669]

Jacqui Smith: In the last five years, 52 independent schools have registered with the Department their interest in joining the maintained sector; seven independent schools have become maintained schools and another three are approved to become maintained schools in 2006/07.

Offender Learning Schemes

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment her Department has made of the pilot schemes for offender learning. [24991]

Phil Hope: The National Foundation for Educational Research, the largest independent educational research institution in Europe, has been appointed to assess the impact of the new offender learning and skills delivery arrangements in the three development regions (North East, North West and South West England). The research activity has commenced and results will be used to inform roll-out across the rest of England in August 2006, with a full research report published in September 2006.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if she will take steps to ensure that the forthcoming Green Paper on Reducing Re-offending through Skills and Employment addresses (a) education and training while in custody and (b) support for former prisoners after their release; and if she will make a statement; [24992]

(2) when the Green Paper on Reducing Re- offending through Skills and Employment will be published. [24993]

Phil Hope: The Department for Education and Skills, Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions are working on proposals for a joint reform programme
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to build a service that is more effective in improving offenders' skills and qualifications and in getting some offenders into sustainable employment. We hope to publish proposals in the near future. The proposals can be expected to cover issues relating to education and training in custody and in the community.

Parent Councils

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of schools have parent councils. [25660]

Jacqui Smith: We do not collect this information centrally.

Parenting Contracts

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many parenting contracts have been issued in (a) Morecambe and Lunesdale and (b) England since their inception. [24536]

Jacqui Smith: My Department started to collect data regarding parenting contracts (in cases of non-attendance and exclusions from school) from September 2004. Between September 2004 and 31 July 2005 local authorities in England have reported that 5,717 parenting contracts in cases of non-attendance have been agreed with parents. During the same period 418 parenting contracts in cases of exclusion from school were agreed with parents. This is the latest data we hold—autumn term data will be published in March 2006. We do not collect data below local authority level. Lancashire LA have reported that they did not issue any parenting contracts up to and including 31 July 2005.

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