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Sure Start

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much has been allocated for the evaluation of Sure Start; and when she expects to publish the results. [28801]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 15 November 2005]: A comprehensive national level evaluation of Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) is examining the implementation, cost-effectiveness and impact of Sure Start for children, families and communities. It also provides support to SSLPs on their local evaluations. The National Evaluation runs from 2001 to 2008 and will cost £20.3 million in total.

To date, 10 reports from the national evaluation have been published and a further five will be published before the end of the year. The final report drawing together all the information from the evaluation will be published at the end of 2008.


Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department has taken to persuade teachers who have left the profession to return. [28574]

Jacqui Smith: The Training and Development Agency for schools (TDA) commissions returners' courses to refresh and update returners' knowledge and skills. The TDA has funded over 300 courses between 2002 and 2005, with more than 6,000 places offered. Courses cover all aspects of the curriculum, assessment, classroom management, inclusion etc. as well a school placement to give participants a refresher of school life and to boost confidence. Every participant on a TDA-funded returners course is eligible for a training bursary of up to £150 per week (to a maximum of £1,500 for the duration of the course) and child care support.
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The advice and guidance service Returning to Teach holds details of almost 17,000 former teachers. When a person registers, they are sent a pack with information about courses, useful contact details and termly copies of return to teaching" magazines.

We have introduced a number of reforms to reduce teachers' work loads and to tackle the issues that concern them in the classroom, such as pupil behaviour. Teachers returning to the classroom will also benefit from improved pay.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the impact of the introduction of the 50 per cent. university admission target upon the educational performance of children from low socio-economic backgrounds. [26057]

Bill Rammell: It would be difficult to show a direct causal relationship between the target of making progress towards 50 per cent. of 18 to 30-year-olds having had experience of HE, and school age performance. But there is evidence that our strategy of transforming the aspirations of children in order to widen participation in HE is boosting performance. For example, participation in summer schools (and other university and school-based holiday programmes), visits to higher education institutions and discussion about life at university with higher education staff and student have all been found in independent evaluation to be associated with higher attainment at key stage 4.

Union Learning Fund

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what changes in funding to the Union Learning Fund are proposed as a result of Priorities for Success. [28575]

Phil Hope: There are no changes in funding to the Union Learning Fund proposed as result of Priorities for Success. This document published by the Learning and Skills Council sets out a two-year strategy for the planning and funding of the further education sector that that will allow thousands more young people and adults to gain qualifications and skills for the workplace.

University Finance

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent (a) discussions and (b) correspondence she has had with universities on
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ensuring that the increased funding for teaching provided by the Government is not allocated elsewhere; and if she will make a statement. [28285]

Bill Rammell: Government funding for teaching in higher education is allocated via the Higher Education Funding Council for England on a formula basis. Institutions receive this and their funding for research as block grant. The funding institutions will receive from HEFCE and student fees in the current spending review period to 2007–08 is sufficient to maintain the unit of student per funding in real terms, after many years of decline. It is for institutions to decide how best to spend this money, and we have no intention of micromanaging their budgets. It is more effective and less bureaucratic to judge institutions by the outcomes they achieve.

Youth Work Projects

Mr. Malik: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to ensure accountability of voluntary and community sector (VCS) run youth work projects under the new youth service inspection arrangements, with particular reference to (a) the registration of VCS units with the local authority, (b) training and qualification of personnel and (c) inspection. [26681]

Beverley Hughes: Voluntary and community organisations are important partners in delivering the outcomes we want to see for children and young people. We expect that local authorities will engage with their local voluntary and community sectors in line with guidance relating to the Children Act 2004. Whether or not a local authority chooses to operate a system of registration for voluntary sector organisations they are funding and the nature of any registration system, including how this covers the training and qualification of personnel, is a matter for local decision.

Organisations in the voluntary and private sectors that work with children and young people need to work effectively with Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) which will come into force from April 2006.

LSCBs will be responsible for establishing effective policies and procedures, based on national guidance, for checking the suitability of people applying for work with children and young people and ensuring that the children and young people's workforce is properly supervised, with any concerns acted on appropriately.

On inspection, joint area reviews of children's services, by several inspectorates, assess how services contribute to outcomes for children and young people. They include assessing the contribution of local authority funded youth services, whether provided by public or voluntary and community sectors. A joint area review will take place in each local authority area between September 2005 and December 2008.
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Arms Embargoes

John Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General what considerations are taken into account by the Crown Prosecution Service when assessing whether sufficient evidence has been assembled in order to prosecute British citizens who breach arms embargoes and restrictions. [29004]

The Solicitor-General: Alleged breaches of arms embargoes are normally investigated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and referred to the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) for consideration for prosecution. RCPO was established as an independent Department on 18 April 2005.

In determining whether an offence has been committed the RCPO prosecutor is governed by the Code for Crown Prosecutors issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions in accordance with s.10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, The prosecutor has to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to give a realistic prospect of conviction and whether a prosecution would be in the public interest.

Body Identification

Jon Trickett: To ask the Solicitor-General what recent discussions he has had with pathologists, forensic scientists and the National Missing Persons Helpline on liaison they undertake in connection with identifying bodies of unknown people. [27600]

Ms Harman: I have been asked to reply.

None. Pathologists, forensic scientists and others assist the coroner in identifying bodies of unknown people and how that is done is a matter for the judgment of the individuals concerned.

Literacy and Numeracy

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Solicitor-General what proportion of new recruits to his Department do not have a Level 2 qualification in English and mathematics. [23770]

The Solicitor-General: I am answering this question on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Treasury Solicitor's Department (TSol) the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO), and HM CPS Inspectorate (HMCPSI).

The CPS undertakes a generally competence based approach to recruitment except where a qualification is a requirement of the post holder. Information on recruits who have a Level 2 qualification in English and Maths is not recorded centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Treasury Solicitor's Department has only 26 posts which do not require Level 2 numeracy and literacy as a condition of entry. There is no central record of whether the incumbents of these 26 posts are qualified to Level 2 in English and mathematics.

The Serious Fraud Office does not have a standard requirement for entry level qualifications beneath the SCS and has adopted a competence; based approach to
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selection. Candidates are required to provide evidence of core competencies. The level to which candidates need to demonstrate their competence varies according to the seniority of the post. For specialist posts there may be a requirement for a recognised financial or legal qualification.

HMCPSI has no mandatory requirement for new recruits to have particular qualifications except in the case of legal inspectors where a legal qualification is required.

RCPO requires applicants to meet a minimum standard of GCSE grade C in English and mathematics (or equivalent), Where applicants do not meet this requirement it is possible for them to sit a literacy and numeracy test in order to assess their competence.

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