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Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government is taking to ensure all staff working in (a) schools and (b) other children's services receive sufficient and suitable training to equip them to work with children with autism. 
Jacqui Smith: I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 3 November 2005, Official Report, column 1309W, in response to her earlier question on minimum training standards for people who work with autistic children.
Once qualified, all teachers are expected to identify their development needs through performance management arrangements, and to address identified needs by undertaking appropriate professional development. This includes strengthening knowledge of special educational
21 Nov 2005 : Column 1617W
needs. All schools receive a School Development Grant which they are able to use to support improvements in any aspect of teaching and learning. Local authorities may retain a proportion of this grant, under certain conditions, to provide specific training and development of SEN.
The Department's published SEN Strategy, Removing Barriers to Achievement" recognised the importance of training and committed us to work closely with the Training and Development Agency for Schools to ensure that initial teacher training and programmes of continuing professional development provide a good grounding in core skills and knowledge of SEN, which of course covers a wide range of conditions, including autism.
We have commissioned the IDA to carry forward a range of initiatives designed to improve and strengthen the SEN skills and confidence of trainees, newly qualified and established teachers. These initiatives will be implemented over the period 20052008 at a cost of approximately £1.1 million. The TDA will be reviewing its Standards, as part of its new responsibilities for the school work force, and the Department will feed in to that process.
On the wider children's services front, we have developed the Common Core of Skills and Knowledge to support and focus professional development in the children's work force, including those working for private and voluntary sector. It also covers those working with disadvantaged children as well as those with a disability. The Common Core sets out the areas of expertise that everyone working with children, young people and families (including those who work as volunteers) should be able to demonstrate. It sets out the skills and knowledge that, if accredited, could form the basis of a minimum competence for working with children, young people and their families.
There is funding available under the National Training Strategy Grant and Human Resources Development Strategy through local authorities and other organisations, for a number of initiatives to support social work, education and training, provide financial support to students and strengthen the social work and social care work force (with children and adults). It would be appropriate for some of this to be used for training for those in children's services working with children with autism, but the Government does not specify a proportion that has to be used in this way.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the performance of the Basic Skills Agency; what funding it has received since 1997; and if she will make a statement. 
Phil Hope: The Basic Skills Agency (BSA) has received a total of £52 million in core grant funding since the 199697 financial year. The agency has also received additional funding for fixed term initiatives and contracts.
The Department for Education and Skills regularly reviews the Agency's performance and is responsible for approving the BSA's strategic plan and annual delivery plan. DfES continues to work closely with the BSA on the delivery of its current three-year strategic plan and annual delivery plan, which is supported by DfES core funding. BSA's performance is reviewed each month against their delivery plan and their core grant is paid on the basis of this assessment.
Beverley Hughes: In my ministerial capacity, I have met a wide range of organisations which represent the interests of children, young peoples and families, and have also visited a large number of local projects and spoken at a wide range of events. My colleague, Maria Eagle, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Children, Young People and Families, has also met a wide range of organisations. National level organisations that have been represented at meetings with me, since May, include:
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Department takes to ensure that consultancies do not claim excessive expenses while working for her Department and its agencies. 
My Department has effective financial controls in place, and follows HM Treasury Government Accounting 2000" guidelines on the responsibilities of Accounting Officers.
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My Department also uses 'model' contracts for Consultancy which contain specific clauses and guidance to ensure that Departmental limits are applied to consultancy expenses claims. In addition to this the Departments policy is to ensure that invoices are thoroughly checked for propriety and value for money.
|1 September 2005||Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Command, London|
|2 September 2005||Parent Partnership, Beechwood Family Support, Watford|
|7 September 2005||Michael SIEFF Foundation Conference Every Young Person Matters"|
|8 September 2005||Milton Keynes, Round Table discussion with Children's services partners|
Galley Hill Education Centre, Milton Keynes
|9 September 2005||Health Inequalities Conference, Manchester|
Benchill Play centre, Manchester
|21 September 2005||Early Childhood Forum, London Children's Workforce Network, London|
|23 September 2005||Chester Youth Forum, Chester|
|27 September 2005||RU-OK? (Young people' substance abuse project), Brighton|
|30 September 2005||Brook Advisory Centre, Manchester|
|3 October 2005||Harpurhey Centre, North Manchester Sixth Form College, Manchester|
Grange Community Resource Centre, Manchester
URBISMuseum of Urban life, Manchester
Manchester Town Hall, Manchester
|4 0ctober 2005||Saltash college, Cornwall|
|Estover Community College|
Devon Children's TrustRoundtable discussion with Children's Services partners, Exeter
|5 October 2005||Bideford Sure Start Children's Centre, Cornwall|
Flashpoint Life Skills Centre, Cornwall
Bodmin SHARE information and advice service, Cornwall
|7 October 2005||Bridehill Sure Start Children's Centre, Stockport|
Stepping Hill Hospital Birth Centre, Stockport
|10 October 2005||Roundtable discussion with Children's Services partners, Hull|
|11 October 2005||Coram Family, London|
Local Government Association Youth Matters conference
Reception for childminders and pre-school teachers in Enfield, House of Commons
|12 October 2005||Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel, Holborn|
|13 October 2005||ACPO Youth Justice Conference, Belfast|
|19 October 2005||Paediatrics and Child Health Conference, London|
IPPR Active Fatherhood project launch, London
|20 October 2005||DfES Social Enterprise Seminar, London|
|21 October 2005||LGA/ADSS Conference, Birmingham|
NFPI Parents Consultation event, Old Trafford
|25 October 2005||NPQICL Graduation Ceremony|
|26 October 2005||BAAF Private Fostering Reception, House of Commons|
|31 October 2005||Whitby High Schools, Ellesmere Port|
|1 November 2005||Daycare Trust Annual Conference, London|
Ormiston Children and Families Trust Launch event, House of Commons
Connexions Youth Green Paper Event, London
|8 November 2005||Gospel Oak Children's Centre, London|
"Brake" launch of Road Safety Week Campaign; London
NSPCC Reception, London
DfES Board of Children, Young People and Families Stakeholders, London
|9 November 2005||West London Centre of Vocational Excellence Centre|
|10 November 2005||Continyou Extra Community Conference, Coventry|
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