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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many 14 to 16-year-olds have (a) started and (b) completed young apprenticeships since their introduction in May 2004; and if she will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: A total of 3,000 pupils have started the two-year Young Apprenticeship programme since it began in September 2004. The first cohort of 1,000 pupils will complete the programme in July 2006.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government are taking to reach its target of reducing by at least 40 per cent. the number of adults in the workforce who lack basic skills. 
The target for tackling basic skills in England is to 'Improve the basic skills levels of 1.5 million adults by 2007 and 2.25 by 2010' (since the launch of the Skills for Life Strategy in 2001). The 40 per cent. target refers to the Government's ambitions for 'Level 2': to reduce by at least 40 per cent. the number of adults in the workforce who lack NVQ2 or equivalent qualifications.
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In 2001 the Government published the Skills for Life Strategy to tackle basic skills needs across England. Basic skills are a long term priority for this Government and basic literacy and numeracy learning is free to learners with skills below Level 2. Since 2001, we have put in place national standards and core curricula. We are continuing to focus on driving up quality of provision and are professionalising the workforce and extending the reach of the strategy. Since the strategy was launched in 2001, we have helped 1,130,000 adults achieve first qualifications in literacy, language or numeracy. In total, 3.7 million adults have taken up 7.8 million learning opportunities. Tackling basic skills underpins our Skills Strategy, 1419 reforms, primary and secondary strategies, and our agenda set out in Every Child Matters.
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (a) recent representations she has received and (b) meetings she has had about allowing a salary sacrifice child care voucher scheme for teachers; when she expects salary sacrifice to be permitted; and if she will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: A number of representations about salary sacrifice have been received in the Department. My right hon. Friend has had no meetings specifically about salary sacrifice. She is currently giving careful consideration to the issue.
Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent estimate she has made of the number of children who have suffered non-accidental injuries during unsupervised access with their absent parent. 
[holding answer 9 November 2005]: We do not hold data on the number of children who are harmed during unsupervised contact with their non-resident parent, whether court ordered or otherwise. However, we take the issues of child protection and
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domestic violence extremely seriously and have taken a number of steps to ensure the safety of children involved in contact disputes.
On 31 January this year, we introduced new 'Gateway forms' designed to ensure that any issues of domestic violence can more readily be raised at the very start of Children Act 1989 private law court proceedings. We have also commenced section 120 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which clarified the definition of 'harm' in the Children Act 1989, which now makes explicit that it includes any impairment suffered as a result of seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another. In addition, section 1 of the Children Act 1989, which applies whenever the court is considering an application for a contact order, requires the court to have the welfare of the child as its paramount consideration. This is reinforced by the welfare checklist at section 1(3) of that Act, which requires the court to have regard to any harm the child has suffered, or is at risk of suffering.
Phil Hope: I am pleased to acknowledge the continuing success of this programme in encouraging active participation by young peopleboth in their learning and in their local and wider communities. This success was recognised most recently in the joint report by Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate. We are currently considering the recommendations in that report.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the pupil-teacher ratio in (a) Suffolk, (b) Cambridgeshire, (c) Essex and (d) Norfolk has been in each year since 1997. 
|City of Peterborough||(10)||(10)||24.2||23.2||23.0||22.9||23.1||23.2||22.5|
|City of Peterborough||(10)||(10)||16.7||17.1||17.2||17.3||17.4||17.0||16.9|
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