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23 Nov 2005 : Column 2090W—continued

Learning Methods

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 2 November 2005, Official
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column 1181W, on learning methods, whether learning multiplication facts up to 10x10 is identical to learning multiplication tables up to 10x10. [30939]

Jacqui Smith: By learning the multiplication tables up to 10x10, a child would learn all the individual multiplication facts up to 10x10.

Milwaukee Charter Schools Programme

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions representatives of her Department had with US (a) educators and officials concerned with the Milwaukee charter schools programme and (b) policy institutes during their recent visit to the US; and what assessment they have made of the programme. [30628]

Jacqui Smith: The discussions held with educators and officials concerned with the Milwaukee charter schools' programme included the teaching and learning strategies and curriculum used to engage and motivate young people; the implications of teacher led schools and the accountability systems in place to quality assure provision.

The official made the following observations based on his visit to Milwaukee:

Ministerial Correspondence

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of ministerial correspondence from her Department was signed in a Minister's absence in the last period for which figures are available. [23644]

Bill Rammell: Information on ministerial letters is not collected in this form.

Music Teaching

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she plans to announce the details of annual funding arrangements for the promotion of music tuition in schools. [30696]

Jacqui Smith: Annual funding arrangements for the promotion of music tuition in schools will be announced in the near future, as part of the schools funding settlement.

National Minimum Wage

Ms Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many staff in her Department were affected by the increase in the national minimum wage on 1 October. [28930]

Maria Eagle: None of the staff in my Department were affected by the increase in the national minimum wage on 1 October 2005.
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Nuffield Review

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (a) direct and (b) indirect funding her Department has made to the Annual Nuffield Review of 14–19 Education and Training. [28180]

Bill Rammell: The Department has not made any direct or indirect funding to the Nuffield Review. This piece of work was funded entirely by the Nuffield Foundation itself.

Parental Rights

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to ensure the rights of fathers are considered in legal disputes concerning parental rights; and what assessment she has made of the extent to which the current system considers the rights of fathers. [26998]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 10 November 2005]: The Government's position is that the needs of children, and not the rights of parents, should be at the heart of the law. The courts are required to have the welfare of the child as their paramount consideration in determining any question in relation to their upbringing. This paramountcy principle is focused on the child, and there is no legal bias toward or against either parent.

The Government take very seriously the need to support both parents in seeking to know and love their children, and we believe firmly that it is normally in the child's best interest to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.

Following on from the parental separation Green Paper, Making Contact Work", we are introducing a raft of measures to support parents and children, both in legal disputes and in avoiding those disputes in the first place, through rolling out in-court conciliation, revising and updating parenting plans, launching a telephone helpline later this year, making new arrangements to incentivise solicitors to promote successful out-of-court contact settlements and increasing the availability of child contact centres.

On the more technical matter of parental responsibility (PR), fathers who have PR for their children have exactly the same level of rights and responsibilities as any other party with PR. We introduced new provisions to allow fathers to register as a child's parent through the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

Anyone with parental responsibility has all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property, including being consulted over important changes in the child's life, such as a change of name or taking the child abroad for longer than one month, and being entitled to information about the child such as school reports.


Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people undertook courses leading to a qualification in plumbing in each of the last 10 years. [31300]

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Phil Hope: According to the National Information System for Vocational Qualifications (NISVQ), the number of awards of accredited qualifications in plumbing in the United Kingdom over the last 10 years is given in the following table:
Number of awards (to the nearest 100)

The National Information System for Vocational Qualifications (NISVQ) has been collecting information from awarding bodies on the achievement of vocational qualifications in the United Kingdom since 1992/93. The number of awarding bodies contributing data has risen from five in 1992/93 to 13 in 1997/98, 24 in 2002/03 and 36 in 2003/04 (the latest year for which information is available).

Polish Resettlement Act

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the operation of section 6 of the Polish Resettlement Act 1947. [29846]

Phil Hope: Section 6 of the Polish Resettlement Act 1947 was repealed by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 2004. The provision was proposed for repeal by the Law Commission because it was no longer needed. The repeal took effect on 22 July 2004.

Positive Learning Environment

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps are being taken by her Department to foster a positive learning environment for pupils (a) within schools, (b) at home and (c) within the community. [26173]

Jacqui Smith: The Department is taking a range of steps to ensure a positive learning environment for pupils.

We are supporting schools in making sure that each classroom is a positive and orderly place where pupils are free to learn. Our National Primary and Secondary Strategies are improving the quality of teaching and learning in schools. We are also implementing a complementary and comprehensive programme of measures to strengthen schools' capacity to improve pupils' behaviour and attendance, which includes access to high-quality training for all school staff and extra support for schools facing the greatest challenges. In addition, we are currently considering the recommendations made in the recently published report by the Practitioners' Group to determine what else can be done to promote good behaviour in schools.
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The Department's Extended Schools' programme aims to promote, encourage and develop links between schools and their communities, effectively making the school the heart of the community.

We want to help parents and schools to work well together and raise children's achievement. It is crucial we ensure that the importance of parental involvement is embedded throughout the education chain to establish a culture of parental involvement and encourage a positive, two-way partnership.

To enable this, we are actively encouraging parents to become more closely involved in their children's education and learning at home and at school by providing information for parents such as the Learning Journey guides and the Parents Centre website; and materials for schools such as the Involving Parents, Raising Achievement toolkit.

The family learning programmes funded by the Learning and Skills Council enable parents and their children to improve their literacy, language and numeracy skills together.

All these measures support the creation of a positive learning environment in schools, at home and in the community, as they all include an emphasis on work with parents and raising awareness of children and young people's position and responsibilities in the communities in which they live.

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