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Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 8 November 2005, Official Report, column 444W, on ability grouping, on what basis it was decided to remove the requirement for Ofsted inspectors to distinguish between setting and banding by ability in the information recorded about lessons. 
the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on what basis it was decided to remove the requirement for Ofsted inspectors to distinguish between setting and banding by ability in the information recorded about lessons (PQ 29557)
the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of lessons was recorded as banded by ability in (a) Year 7, (b) Year 8, (c) Year 9, (d) Year 10 and (e) Year 11 in secondary schools inspected by Ofsted in each year between 1995 and 2004 (PQ 29558).
In response to Parliamentary Question 29556, Ofsted introduced a new framework and guidance for inspections under section 5 of the Education Act 2005 from September 2005. Although these will be kept under review, there are no plans to change them in the immediate future. The observation of lessons is no longer conducted in the same way as under the previous inspection regime (under section 10 of the School Inspections Act) and in Ofsted's view it would not be appropriate to ask inspectors to collect information about the proportion of classes that are grouped by ability on every section 5 inspection.
In response to Parliamentary Question 29557, changes were made in 2003/04 so that Ofsted had information about the level of ability of groups as well as whether pupils were grouped by ability for their lessons. The information about ability levels was not previously available. To avoid over-complexity, the distinction between banding and setting was removed. In making judgements, Ofsted felt that it was not important for inspectors to know whether pupils were grouped by ability or not, rather than knowing the precise arrangements through which this was achieved. In some schools the distinction between banding and setting is blurred.
In response to Parliamentary Question 29558, the table (see Appendix 1) includes the information you required for the years 1996/97 to 2002/03. The data were not recorded in 1995/96 and from September 2003 inspectors were not required to distinguish between setting and banding in the information they recorded about lessons.
|Year group||Total number of lessons observed||Percentage of banded lessons||Total number of lessons observed||Percentage of banded lessons||Total number of lessons observed||Percentage of banded lessons||Total number of lessons observed||Percentage of banded lessons|
|Total year 711||144,793||5.8||84,180||7.4||116,666||5.2||90,149||4.8|
|Year group||Total number of lessons observed||Percentage of banded lessons||Total number of lessons observed||Percentage of banded lessons||Total number of lessons observed||Percentage of banded lessons|
|Total year 711||73,454||4.9||65,496||4.1||59,719||4.3|
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what response her Department has made to the report of the National Audit Office on extending access to learning through technology; and if she will make a statement. 
Phil Hope: My Department welcomes the National Audit Office's report on the Ufi and the learndirect service. Overall, the report is very positive. It points out that learndirect has been innovative and, within a few years, has become the largest educational provider of its type in the world. Ufi has an ambitious plan for working more with employers. The report also highlights that more than 1.7 million people have already used learndirect's services, many of whom would not otherwise have undertaken learning.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the impact of adult education courses on the quality of life of students; and if she will make a statement. 
Phil Hope: The Government believe that the most important thing we can do to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged and excluded individuals and their families is to raise their prospects of a productive, sustainable employment. This is why the priorities for public funding of adult learning are helping individuals to attain the platform of employability represented by improved basic skills and a first full level 2 qualification. In addition, work for my Department by the centre for the wider benefits of learning shows that participation in adult learning has beneficial effects on a wide spectrum of measures which relate to the quality of life both for the individual and for society as a whole. These include smoking, exercise taken, life satisfaction, and attitudes such as race tolerance, authoritarianism, political cynicism, political interest, and voting behaviour.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which (a) local authorities and (b) primary care trusts are making use of the autism exemplar in the disabled children's module of the National Service Framework for Children 2004. 
The Government do not keep records of which local authorities and primary care trusts are using the autism exemplar which was distributed widely as part of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services. The exemplars included in the National Service Framework (NSF) are
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designed to illustrate the key themes of the NSF. It is the decision of local authorities and primary care trusts as to whether they use the exemplars. One example of the use of the exemplar is from the West Midlands Special Educational Needs Regional Partnership which is using it as part of a set of guidelines for local authorities when identifying or diagnosing Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many copies of her Department's Early Support publication Information for Parents: Autistic spectrum disorders and related conditions have been delivered to parents since 2004. 
Maria Eagle: Since this publication was published alongside other Early Support materials in June 2004, some 35,000 copies have been sent out by the Department's Publications Centre. Copies have been sent to professionals and to autism support groups, such as the National Autistic Society and the Parents' Autism Campaign for Education who helped in the writing of the booklet, to distribute to parents. Other parents have requested the booklet directly. It is not possible to say how many copies of the total distribution have gone to parents.
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