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Looked-after Children

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to ensure the target is met on the proportion of looked-after children placed for adoption within 12 months of the decision that adoption is in the child's best interests. [26781]

Maria Eagle: Performance on this measure remained stable between 2002–03 and 2003–04. Statistics for 2004–05 will be published on 24 November 2005. We will be reviewing factors that influence performance on this measure in light of the full implementation of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. The Act and its associated regulations and statutory guidance will come into effect on 30 December 2005.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to reduce the percentage of looked-after children subject to a final warning or reprimand. [26782]

Maria Eagle: The percentage of looked-after children convicted or subject to a final warning or reprimand fell from 10.3 per cent. in 2001 to 9.3 per cent. in 2004. Our work to raise educational achievement and improve placement stability will contribute towards continued reductions in offending and improvements in other outcomes for looked after children. Funded by the Government, MACRO have recently published a good practice guide on reducing offending by looked-after children, which reinforces the message that looked-after children must be provided with constructive supervision and guidance to reduce the risk of offending, and that those who have offended must be offered appropriate services to minimise the likelihood of re-offending. This publication has been distributed to all Directors of Children's Services and all YOT managers. We intend to consult early in 2006 on further wide ranging proposals for transforming outcomes for looked-after children.

Lyons Review

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people in her Department were relocated in 2004–05 as a result of Sir Michael Lyons' independent review of public sector relocation, broken down by location; to which location they have been relocated; how many are expected to be relocated in 2005–06; and if she will make a statement. [23691]

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Maria Eagle [holding answer 1 November 2005]: My Department and sponsored organisations are implementing the Lyons Review recommendations to relocate around 800 posts from the Department and its non-department public bodies out of London and the South East by 2010.

In 2004–05, 58 posts in DfES itself were relocated from London to our existing offices in Runcorn, Sheffield and Darlington. So far in 2005–06, 21 posts have been relocated and up to a further nine posts will have relocated by the end of period. The breakdown of posts relocated by location is: 43 to Runcorn, 32 to Sheffield and four to Darlington. A further four posts will move to Runcorn and two posts to Sheffield. The locations of the remaining three posts have not been confirmed.

There have been no transfers of DfES staff out of London to fill these posts.

Public Service Agreements

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she will assess progress on the Public Service Agreement target to narrow the gap in educational achievement between looked after children and their peers. [26790]

Maria Eagle: Progress towards the achievement of the Department's Public Service Agreement Targets is reported in our Spring Departmental Report and our Autumn Performance Report. The Spring Departmental Report was published on 20 June 2005 and the Autumn Performance Report is due to be published on or before 19 December 2005.

Copies of Departmental Reports and Autumn Performance Reports are available from the House of Commons Library.

Schools (Putney)

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which schools in Putney will receive funding as part of the Schools Access Initiative; and how much has been allocated to each school in (a) 2004–05 (b) 2005–06 (c) 2006–07 and (d) 2007–08. [27263]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 10 November]: The Schools Access Initiative provides resources to local authorities to help make mainstream schools accessible to pupils with disabilities. £300 million has been made
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available for the first access planning period under Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (2003–2006), with a further £100 million per annum announced for both 2006–07 and 2007–08. The funding is allocated to local authorities and it is for each authority to decide its priority schemes in light of the local needs and circumstances detailed in their accessibility strategy. They are not required to provide us with information detailing how they have spent their allocation of the School Access Initiative on the schools they are responsible for.

Special Educational Needs

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what level of (a) qualifications and (b) experience is required to be a school Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator; and if she will make a statement. [27072]

Maria Eagle: The Department's Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice, published in November 2001, makes it clear that the SEN co-ordinator should be closely involved with the head teacher, senior management and teachers, in the strategic development of a school's SEN policy. Once it has been agreed, the SENCO should have responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the policy and for co-ordinating provision for pupils with SEN, particularly through "School Action" and "School Action Plus".

SENCOs are selected and appointed by head teachers. There are no specific qualifications which a SENCO has to have, although we would normally expect a head to appoint someone with a proven track record of successful working with children with SEN and disabilities.

Working in collaboration with the National Association for Special Educational Needs, the Department has recently arranged a series of discussion sessions for primary and secondary SENCOs designed to identify aspects of good practice in relation to the SENCO role, for dissemination through NASEN publications and otherwise.

Trust Schools

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 7 November 2005, Official Report, column 132W, on trust schools, how many schools have (a) applied for, (b) received and (c) been refused permission to borrow against their assets in each year since 1997; and what the current total amount is of such borrowing, broken down by category of maintained school. [27359]

Jacqui Smith: We have not received any applications for permission to borrow. Guidance to schools sets out our policy that we think such borrowing will rarely represent value for money. This is because the cost of a commercial loan, which includes an element of profit and an allowance for risk, will always tend to be more expensive than the alternative of direct funding by Government. A small number of schools and local authorities have made inquiries, but we do not keep records of this.
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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the capacity of schools to provide mentoring for pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds. [26060]

Beverley Hughes: The Excellence in Cities Programme introduced Learning Mentor support to schools and colleges, with the funding targeted towards disadvantaged groups and areas of under-achievement (through around 60 full partnerships and 78 smaller clusters).

The Excellence in Cities programme was specifically introduced to tackle years of under-achievement in our most socially and economically disadvantaged areas. The additional support and funding provided by the Excellence in Cities programme has significantly increased the capacity of schools in deprived areas to address the socio economic factors of under attainment. Partnership working has allowed schools to target resources and strategies to raise attainment across whole communities. Strands such as Gifted and Talented, Learning Mentors, Learning Support Units, City Learning Centres, Aimhigher and Study Support have, among other things, pioneered personalised learning programmes; tackled barriers to learning; extended study opportunities for pupils, providing access to state of the art ICT; enabled ICT led innovation in the delivery of the curriculum; fostered new approaches to teaching and learning; kept at risk pupils in school and engaged in the curriculum; and enhanced continuing professional development for teachers.

This funding will become part of mainstream provision from 1 April 2006 as an element of the ring fenced and index linked Dedicated Schools Grant. The Dedicated Schools Grant will be available to all schools and will enable Learning Mentor and other related provision to spread more broadly, reflecting local need.

It is important to bear in mind that there are additional forms of mentoring provided within schools which are not provided by school learning mentors (employed by the school/local authority) e.g. peer and voluntary mentoring. There is also the work carried out by the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation

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