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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the establishment of a sector skills council for government, with particular reference to arrangements for (a) licensing and monitoring and (b) governance. 
Phil Hope: The Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) will convene a Licence Assessment Panel (LAP) to take place on 18 November to assess the business case for the Government Skills Sector Skills Council (SSC). The outcome will be that the LAP will either recommend that the Secretary of State licenses the SSC, requires further work on the business case to be addressed, or rejects the proposal outright. The LAP will need to be satisfied that the proposed governance arrangements for the SSC comply with the standard required of all SSCs. The SSDA would be responsible for monitoring the performance of Government Skills, as for all SSCs, through a three year funding arrangement.
Where the governing body of an existing school proposes to acquire a trust, it will consult and publish statutory proposals, setting out details of the proposed trust and the rationale for acquiring it. It will normally be for individual governing bodies to decide such proposals, but where the governing body has failed to take proper account of the views of a
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majority of parents or there are serious concerns about the impact of the acquisition of the trust on school standards, the local authority may refer the proposals to the Schools Adjudicator whose decision on them will be final.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answers of 7 November 2005, Official Report, column 130W, on Skills for Life courses, if she will place in the Library the evidence referred to in her answer to question 24962. 
Phil Hope: It has been drawn to my attention that while the answer I made to question 24962 was done so in good faith and was based upon information passed to me by officials, it was inaccurate in its interpretation of the evidence referred to. I very much regret this.
The Department is currently undertaking a longitudinal study of literacy and numeracy learners in FE collegesa subset of Skills for Life learners. Reports on both the first and second stages of the survey will be published at the end of November 2005. The study found that 25 per cent. of this learner group had no qualifications and 86 per cent. had neither English nor Maths at Level 2 [a good GCSE A*-C]. In addition, 32 per cent. of this learner group were continuing with their full time education while 68 per cent. of learners had left. Among those who had left, 70 per cent. had left at age 16 or under. However, this does not rule out the possibility that these learners will have undertaken any post-16 education.
There is further published evidence that also suggests a large proportion of participants on Skills for Life courses may have left school at or before the minimum age and may have no formal educational qualifications. I have placed in the Library of the House copies of two published DfES research reports which contain this evidence: Evaluation of Adult Basic Skills Pathfinder Extension Activities: An Overview" by Michael White of the Policy Studies Institute; and Evaluation Outcomes for Learners in Pathfinder Areas", which the company Taylor Nelson Sofres were commissioned to conduct.
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many secondary school teachers in West Lancashire have a (a) first class degree, (b) upper second degree, (c) lower second degree, (d) third class degree and (e) no degree. 
The following table provides degree class information for full-time regular teachers in service in maintained secondary schools in Lancashire local authority in 2003, the latest information available. For comparison, the degree class of those teachers qualifying during 2002 is also provided.
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|Year of qualification|
|Class of degree||All years||2002|
|3rd and unclassified honours||6.3||4.2|
|No degree recorded(39)||1.3||0.5|
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total cost of conducting the numeracy, literacy and ICT skills tests prior to entering teaching (a) has been since their introduction and (b) was in 200405; and what the planned expenditure on the tests is in 200506. 
Jacqui Smith: Over the whole period since introduction, up to and including the financial year 200304, the cost to the Teacher Training Agency of developing and then running the QTS skills tests was approximately £19.5 million. The Teacher Training Agency spent £4.1 million on all three Skills Tests in 200405, and the Training and Development Agency for Schools is planning to spend £3.75 million on them in 200506.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the impact of the initial teacher training skills tests on (a) standards of teaching and learning and (b) the efficacy of teachers in the discharge of their responsibilities since their introduction. 
Jacqui Smith: The skills tests help to safeguard the quality of teaching and learning provided by schools by preventing people without the necessary basic skills in ICT, numeracy and literacywhich are needed as part of teachers day-to-day workfrom qualifying as teachers. The cost of providing these tests represents less than 0.5 per cent. of the total cost of initial teacher training.
The White Paper Skills: Getting on in business, getting on at work" published in March this year made it clear that the lessons learnt from the
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Employer Training Pilots (ETP) will influence the development of a quality National Employer Training Programme.
The evidence from the pilots shows that the skills brokers are a tried and tested method of engaging employers in the development of their businesses and employees and is a key element of the success of the pilots. For example, the ETP Year 2 Evaluation carried out by the Institute for Employment Studies and published alongside the White Paper, shows that brokers have been very successful in helping to engage hard to reach employers. The evaluation showed these employers found the role of brokers in carrying out a training needs analysis a major attraction. 63 per cent. of hard to reach employers cited the help of brokers linking training to business needs as an attraction of ETP (as did 55 per cent. of easy to reach employers) and thus helping to maximise the added value of the programme. Employers saw the support given to help them access flexible and responsive provision that meets their needs as a major attraction of the pilots (76 per cent. of employers cited flexibly delivered training as an attraction of ETP and 19 per cent. said it was the most attractive feature). Helping to broker the right learning for the employers and learners helps to reduce dropout and ensure high success rates.
Phil Hope: The White Paper Skills: Getting on in business, getting on at work" published in March this year clearly states that at the heart of the National Employer Training Programme is a brokerage service that will work on behalf of the employer." Skills brokers will provide independent and impartial advice to employers on the best type of training available and then source its delivery, to meet employer needs. Brokers will help employers find their way through the often complex world of skills training and help them develop relationships with training providers which will give them the best return on their investment. Brokers are there to make the employer's search for suitable training simpler and cost-effective. Once a training relationship to meet employer's needs is in place, it is for the employer and training provider to work directly together. So long as the employer is satisfied with the quality of training they are getting, the training provider can carry on supplying it.
Brokers will particularly focus on reaching employers who may otherwise not invest in training, particularly small and medium-sized employers. The White Paper clearly states that raising the skill levels of this group is a fundamental aim.
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