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28 Nov 2005 : Column 169W—continued

Consultants/Special Advisers

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) consultants and (b) special advisers were employed by her Department in each year since 1997; what the cost of each was in each year; and if she will make a statement. [27422]

Maria Eagle: The number of consultants engaged by my Department is not collected centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
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Within the Department for Education and Skills the cost of consultancy charged to administration budgets in each year since 1997 was:
£ million

The total cost of consultancy charged to programme budgets from November 2004 to March 2005 (five months) was £4.4 million. The cost charged to programme budgets before November 2004 was not recorded centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Consultancy in this context is defined as investigating problems, providing analysis or advice, or assisting with the development of new systems, new structures or new capabilities within the organisation.

For special advisers, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 16 November 2005, Official Report, column 1257W.

Contact Orders

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated (i) on how many (A) mothers and (B) fathers do not comply with contact orders after separation and (ii) what the reasons are for non-compliance. [28424]

Bridget Prentice: I have been asked to reply.

This information is not collected in the form requested. The Government have commissioned substantial research into residence and contact disputes in court. This research indicates that almost a quarter of cases lasted over a year or arose following previous proceedings, indicating that families could be experiencing difficulties with the contact arrangements in the original order. Court file analysis has shown that almost a quarter of cases have two or more repeat applications and about a third of these are the result of enforcement issues, while over a half are instead driven by the need to have a previous order updated. The Government intend to commission further research into how the courts deal with contact disputes and the court orders made.


Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the 10 largest amounts of damages paid out by her Department in the last year for which figures are available, indicating in each case the nature of the claim. [27723]

Maria Eagle: No damages have been paid out by the Department for Education and Skills in the last year.
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Domestic Violence

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action she (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to ensure that statutory agencies provide appropriate protection for children who have experienced domestic violence. [30721]

Maria Eagle: The Government recognise the strong links between child protection concerns and domestic violence. We have published guidance, for all statutory agencies and other organisations and individuals with a relevant interest, in our inter-agency guidance 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' (1999).

'Working Together' helps to support the integration of effective local practice and stresses that everyone working with women and children should be alert to the frequent inter-relationship between domestic violence and the abuse and neglect of children. Working Together is being revised and updated and this includes further reinforcing the messages on the links of domestic violence and child protection.

The 'Every Child Matters: Change for Children' programme will improve the welfare of all children by putting in place arrangements for earlier and more effective assessment and intervention for vulnerable children, including those affected by domestic violence.

Education (Tamworth)

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) classroom assistants and (b) full-time equivalent classroom assistant posts there were in schools in the Tamworth constituency in each year since 1997. [27488]

Jacqui Smith: The following table provides the full-time equivalent number of teaching assistants in maintained sector schools, including pupil referral units, in the Tamworth Constituency in January of each year.

The number of full-time equivalent teaching assistant posts in Tamworth is not collected centrally.
Full-time equivalent number of teaching assistants(71)in maintained sector schools(72) , including pupil referral units, in the Tamworth constituency(73)

Teaching assistant FTE

(71)Includes teaching assistants, special needs support staff and ethnic minority support staff.
(72)Includes maintained and non-maintained special schools.
(73)Data for 2001 may be affected by misclassification of support staff roles following major changes to information systems.
Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
Annual School Census.

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Education Research

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research her Department has undertaken to compare the economic benefits of investing in 14 to 19 education with investment in adult education; and if she will make a statement. [27949]

Bill Rammell: The Department has commissioned a wide range of independent academic research into the economic benefits of education and skills and it is an important part of the Department-funded Centre for the Economics of Education (CEE) work programme. Investments in 14 to 19 and adult education may encompass a variety of different types of provision and therefore, any direct comparison of investments in each would have to include all of these different types of learning and the qualifications which they result in. Moreover, investments made in 14 to 19 and adult education are typically complementary rather than competing.

The economic returns for young people attaining qualifications at school are high with average returns to five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C estimated at 28 per cent. for males and 24 per cent. for females while two or more A levels earn an average return of 15 per cent. for both sexes (McIntosh, 2004).

While attainment rates at 14 to 19 are improving, there is still a stock of older adults in the labour force with low level or no qualifications that would benefit from access to learning in order to attain qualifications.

Returns to adult training are more varied with some low-level NVQs generating low or no returns for some individuals. However, the returns to low-level NVQs are higher in certain sectors, when gained in the workplace and for particular groups. For example, adults who undertake their NVQ level 2 through workplace training gain a 6 to 7 per cent. return compared to an individual with no qualifications. (Dearden at el, 2004). In light of this evidence the Government have introduced Employer Training Pilots, which subsidise employers to train low skilled employees to obtain a basic skills or first level 2 qualification. At the end of October 2005, the pilots had signed up 25,938 employers and 213,422 employees and 107,059 learners had successfully completed their learning. Evaluation has shown very high rates of employer and employee satisfaction and a range of benefits are reported by both. On 2 December 2004, the Chancellor announced in his Pre-Budget Report that there will be a National Employer Training Programme, to be rolled-out from April 2006. The programme will be applying the lessons learned from the successful Employer Training Pilots and give employers the opportunity to access publicly funded support to training their low skilled workers.

There is a current emphasis on improving qualification design to ensure consistently high returns for all qualifications by enhancing the role of employers in shaping provision through Sector Skills Agreements, Centres of Vocational Excellence and National Skills Academies.
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Improving the qualification level of the adult labour force also benefits the economy in terms of improving our relative productivity performance at an international level. O'Mahony and de Boer (2002) estimate that up to 20 per cent. of our productivity gap with France and Germany can be explained by the UK's relatively low skills levels. There are also wider benefits from learning in terms of improved health, reduced crime and increased social cohesion. The Department funds the Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning which has produced some estimates of these benefits.

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