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28 Nov 2005 : Column 186W—continued


Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the progress of the uniTEST trial; and whether the national launch is planned for 2007. [31932]

Bill Rammell: The UniTEST is a new test of aptitude for higher education, being developed jointly by Cambridge Assessment and the Australian Council for Educational Research. On the basis of information provided by Cambridge Assessment, I understand that the first small-scale trial of the test took place on 22 September 2005 and that their current plans are to carry out a validity study early in May 2006 with a view to offering the test from 2007 to higher education institutions who wish to participate.

Richmond-upon-Thames Group Schools Project

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the (a) capital value and (b) total value is of the private finance initiative project for the Richmond-upon-Thames group schools project; and what percentage of the contract is attributable to capital value. [27112]

Jacqui Smith: The Richmond-upon-Thames group schools PFI project involved six primary schools, two of which were new build and four of which were re-modelled and expanded. The schools became operational in September 2004. According to information supplied by the local authority, whose contract this is, the capital value of the project was £23.8 million. The term 'total value' is usually taken to mean the total amount of
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payments to be made during the term of the contract; this is a commercial matter between the local authority and its private sector partner and we do not hold this information. The project was supported by central Government with the allocation of £16.77 million in PFI credits.

School Admissions

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations she has received from schools on the consultation period for the proposed change in admissions procedures; and if she will make a statement. [31873]

Jacqui Smith: The consultation period for the revised codes of practice for school admissions and school admission appeals complied with Cabinet Office guidelines. From 130 responses received from schools, only 17 expressed some concern that the consultation covered the summer break, although more than half of the overall period did not.

School Councils

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of schools allow pupil participation in the running of the school through school councils. [25659]

Jacqui Smith: The Department for Education and Skills does not collect this data. The Government's commitment to the role of school councils is reflected in the recently published White Paper, Higher Standards, Better Schools For AH". The Government are working closely with School Councils UK, to produce guidance for primary schools. The guidance for secondary schools will also be updated to give stronger encouragement for school councils to be engaged in decision-making. We have asked School Councils UK to establish a network for schools and their councils to talk to each other and share good practice. School councils have a vital role to play, alongside better parental engagement, in promoting schools as strong community institutions.

School Finance

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the number of (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in Tamworth which will have a budget surplus in the 2005–06 financial year. [32011]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not yet available. The Department is due to collect the section 52 outturn data relating to the 2005–06 financial year from October 2006.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the extent is of the funding gap between schools and colleges; and what plans the Government have to close this gap. [32359]

Bill Rammell: The Secretary of State announced on 16 November 2005 our plans for narrowing the funding gap between school sixth forms and further education (FE) colleges for like-for-like 16–19 provision. We recognise that the funding gap will not be easy to close but we have taken some important steps in the funding
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package we announced on 21 October 2005. We have confirmed that for young people in FE in 2006/07 we will match the schools' minimum funding guarantee, which will be announced later this year. We estimate that this, together with other measures to correct technical anomalies, will reduce the gap from 13 per cent. to 8 per cent. by 2006/07. From 2008 we will look to bring consistency to the treatment of student retention and achievement across school sixth forms and colleges which we expect to narrow the gap by a further 3 per cent. Beyond that we will work to establish a common funding approach across the two sectors as part of the Learning and Skills Council's agenda for change.

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the financial surplus or deficit for each (a) primary and (b) secondary school in each education authority in England was in each year since 1997. [32657]

Jacqui Smith: The information can be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

School Pupils

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) primary and (b) secondary school age children there were in each local education authority in (i) 1990, (ii) 1997, (iii) 2000 and (iv) 2005; what the forecasted figures are for each authority in each year from 2006 to 2016; and if she will list the assumptions behind those forecasts. [30803]

Jacqui Smith: Information on the number of pupils in primary and secondary schools for 1990, 1997, 2000 and 2005 has been placed in the Library.

Local authorities provide the Department with forecasts of pupil numbers as part of the annual surplus school places survey. The forecasts cover four years for primary pupils and seven years for secondary pupils. For the purposes of this exercise all schools, including middle deemed schools are categorised as either primary or secondary schools.

The forecast figures for each authority from 2006/07 to 2007/08 (primary schools) and 2006/07 to 2010/11 (secondary schools) have been placed in the Library. We do not collect authorities' assumptions behind these forecasts.

School Transport

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of school transport costs associated with the proposals contained in the Education White Paper. [31815]

Jacqui Smith: The White Paper proposes legislation to improve home to school travel and transport arrangements in three main respects:

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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.

School Trips

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people under the age of 18 years have been killed in accidents during school trips in each of the last five years; and how many of these were killed while undertaking adventurous activities. [32115]

Jacqui Smith: The numbers of pupils under 18 years from schools in England dying from accidental injuries on educational visits in the last five years are as follows:

One fatality occurred during a climbing, caving, trekking or water activity safety-inspected by the Government. One further fatality occurred during an activity overseas which the Government would have inspected in the UK.

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