|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education's letter to hon. Members of 21 October, on what criteria she based her decision to withdraw funding for courses on the basis of course length rather than subject matter; and if she will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: I wrote to hon. Members on 21 October setting out the Government's strategy for funding the further education sector in 2006/07 and 2007/08enclosing the Learning and Skill Council's document 'Priorities for Success' which explains its priorities and detailed approach. The strategy will ensure that substantial additional levels of public funding for FE and training are focused on the key priorities: embedding 1419 reforms and raising attainment of Level 2 at 19, supporting low skilled adults in acquiring basic skills and progressing from basic skills to Level 2 and above, increasing employer engagement and increasingly meeting the needs of employers, and continuing to raise standards in all areas of education and training.
Limited public funding needs to be focused on key priority areas. For example, in supporting additional provision for 16 to 19-year-olds and continuing to provide free tuition for everyone studying literacy and numeracy skills or a first full Level 2 qualification, as well as providing free tuition for those on jobseeker's allowance or income-related benefits and their dependants. One of the measures that the LSC will be taking, to ensure those key priorities are met, is to cease funding for very short coursesbelow nine hours. Very short Skills for Life programmes should be part of larger programmes aiming towards a qualification achievement, while other very short courses appear to have limited benefits in terms of progression for learners.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All, what additional curriculum flexibilities will be granted to trust schools. 
Like all maintained schools, trust schools will be able to apply for a Power to Innovate Order, under Section 2 of the Education Act 2002, which allows the Secretary of State to lift regulatory requirements that are preventing schools from developing work focused on raising pupils' standards of achievement. The forthcoming Education Bill will include provisions to enable trusts to apply for freedoms on behalf of all of their schools.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what financial allocation the Department plans to make to the improvement of school transport under the provisions of the White Paper, Higher Standards, Better Schools for All". 
By placing a general duty on local authorities to support choice and flexibility of educational provision, to assess the travel and transport needs of all pupils, and promote safe and sustainable travel to school;
By extending entitlement to free home to school transport for low income families (for secondary aged pupils to any one of the three nearest suitable schools, where the distance travelled is between two and six miles; and for primary aged pupils aged over eight, to their nearest school where this is more than two miles from their home); and
By enabling a small number of local authorities to propose Pathfinder schemes to test innovative approaches to home to school transport to support school choice, reduce the distances pupils are expected to walk to school, and increase the proportion of pupils travelling by sustainable means.
The estimated cost of the new general duty is £4 million per annum; the extension of entitlement for low income families is estimated to be £40 million per annum; and the Department will support Pathfinder schemes with £4 million pump priming and annual revenue support building up over several years to £12 million. Full costings and related assumptions will be included in the Regulatory Impact Assessment that will accompany the Bill.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what boarding capacity is available in state schools for children suffering from serious epilepsy; and what plans she has to increase such capacity. 
There are currently 34 maintained boarding schools in England, educating approx 32,500 pupils of which 4,500 are boarders. Maintained boarding
23 Nov 2005 : Column 2077W
schools do not offer specific provision for children with epilepsy. The circumstances of each applicant with epilepsy are considered on an individual basis.
Epilepsy is a medical condition and for some children may have implications for the way they function in school. In March 2004 the Department, with the Department of Health, published Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings" to provide guidance on supporting children with medical needs, sets out a clear framework within which local authorities, NHS Primary Care Trusts, schools, early years settings and families are able to work together to develop policies to ensure that children requiring medicines receive the support they need. It contains specific guidance on epilepsy.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what information she collects on (a) extra-curricular activities offered and (b) the percentage of students involved in extra-curricular activities in (i) primary schools, (ii) secondary schools and (iii) sixth form colleges in (A) England, (B) London and (C) Kingston and Surbiton. 
Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not available on a regional or local authority basis. However, my Department recently commissioned MORI to undertake a survey of study support (out-of-school-hours learning) activities in England. This showed that over 90 per cent. of primary schools and over 98 per cent. of secondary schools currently offer some study support. The most popular activities are PE/sport, followed by music and ICT. In addition, 97 per cent. of secondary schools offer activities specifically designed to promote study skills or to help with homework and revision.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much grant aid has been provided to the Family Fund by (a) the Department and (b) other public funding sources in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: The Family Fund was set up by the Government in 1973 to give practical help to families with severely disabled and seriously ill children under the age of 16. Since 1998 the charity has received separate funds from the Governments of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Amounts allocated in each of the last five years are as follows:
The Family Fund provides grants direct to approximately 45,000 families per year with severely disabled children, where the family income is less than £23,000 a year. Over 90 per cent. of the Family Fund's income is paid out in grants, reflecting efficient processes and low administrative costs.
How the grant is used will depend on the needs of the family. Examples include: family holidays for those who would otherwise not have a break, washing machines and other white goods, transport costs to help ease the burden of frequent hospital visiting and other practical support.
The Fund also holds a database which contains records on over 150,000 families. The database represents well over half of the population of all families with a severely disabled child and is used by Government Departments and others to inform policy developments.
Maria Eagle: No specific assessment has been made on the impact of Family Fund grants on demand for NHS services. The Family Fund was set up by the Government in 1973 to give practical help to families with severely disabled and seriously ill children under the age of 16. The Fund was established in recognition of the significant additional costs involved in caring for a severely disabled child. Grants are used to increase families' quality of life and can be used to purchase family holidays for those who would otherwise not have a break, washing machines and other white goods, transport costs to help ease the burden of frequent hospital visiting and other practical support. Family Fund grants are not intended to have any impact on demand for statutory services for families with disabled children.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|