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1 Dec 2005 : Column 768W—continued

Child Care

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of people are eligible to use registered childcare paid for by pre-tax salary under the nursery/childcare vouchers scheme. [33301]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.
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If an employer offers employer supported childcare or childcare vouchers, an employee is entitled to the first £50 a week tax and NIC free, so long as all the conditions are met. Employers can provide this help to their employees either on top or instead of salary.

We do not have information about the percentage of employees that have taken advantage of the exemptions.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what financial support her Department provides for (a) the University for Industry, (b) learndirect centres and (c) learndirect hubs; what role her Department (i) has and (ii) had in the governance and establishment of each; and what policy her Department has adopted in relation to the legal status of each. [33428]

Phil Hope: The latest year for which the figures are available is 2004/05. Of the £218 million provided to Ufi in 2004/05, £107.2 million went to learndirect centres and £27.8 million went to hubs. Since August 2004, the Department has given the Learning and Skills Council responsibility for funding Ufi's infrastructure and learndirect provision in England. Each year the LSC and Ufi reach agreement on the targets to be achieved, the funding to be paid, the methodology for use of the funds and the values which Ufi will use for the funding it passes to hub operators and learndirect centres.

On governance, in 1999, the Department established a company structure which Ufi then cleared with the Charity Commissioners. This led to the setting up of Ufi Charitable Trust (a company limited by guarantee registered as a charity) and Ufi Ltd. (a trading subsidiary, limited by shares wholly owned by the parent company). The Department and Ufi agreed the hub and centre structure for the delivery of learndirect learning as this was considered the appropriate structure at that time for ensuring that learndirect provision was responsive to local and regional skills need. The hubs and learning centres are a mix of private companies and other organisations.
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Education White Paper

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she proposes to create the capital fund referred to in paragraph 2.35 of the Education White Paper, Higher Standards, Better Schools for all. [32327]

Jacqui Smith: Further information about the operation of the fund will be announced in due course.

Examination Results

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many 16 to 19-year-lds achieved five A*-C passes or the equivalent in 2004. [30818]

Jacqui Smith: The following table shows numbers and proportions of 16 to 19-year-olds qualified to at least Level 2 (equivalent to five A*-C GCSEs) by the end of 2003/04.
Attained L2+ by end 2003/04

Age in 2004Number(35)Proportion (percentage)

(35)Rounded to nearest 100.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) which GCSEs count as qualifications in (a) literacy and (b) numeracy; [30819]

(2) what percentage of (a) 15 and (b) 16 to 19-year-olds achieved a Level 2 qualification in literacy and numeracy in 2004. [30820]

Jacqui Smith: The answer to this question is based on the approach taken during this year's Achievement and Attainment Tables English and maths pilot.

For the 2005 Achievement and Attainment Tables pilot the following rules have been applied:

Results in all educational establishments by the end of 2003/04(36)

Number of 15-year-old pupils(37) achievingPercentage of 15-year-old pupils(37) achievingNumber of 16 to 19-year-olds(38) achieving
GCSE English A* to C or level 2 functional English(39)359,32355.89,257
Of which:
Level 2 English GCSE359,25055.89,039
Of which:
Level 2 functional English730.0218
GCSE maths A* to C or Level 2 functional mathematics(40)318,90849.610,705
Of which:
Level 2 mathematics GCSE318,87449.510,623
Of which:
Level 2 functional mathematics340.082

(36)Includes achievements in previous academic years for 15-year-old pupils and achievements in 2003/04 only for 16 to 19-year-olds. Includes schools for 15-year-old pupils and schools and colleges for 16 to 19-year-olds.
(37)Age at start of academic year i.e. 31st August.
(38)16 to 19-year-olds achieving as a percentage of all 16 to 19-year-olds cannot be provided, as we only have information on those in that age range who attempted a qualification.
(39)To demonstrate functional English through Key Skills and Basic Skills, only Key Skills qualifications in communication and Basic Skills qualifications in literacy are recognised.
(40)To demonstrate functional mathematics through Key Skills and Basic Skills, only Key Skills qualifications in application of number and Basic Skills qualifications in numeracy are recognised.

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Examination Standards

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action she is taking to ensure maintenance of standards in (a) GCSE and (b) A level examinations. [33112]

Jacqui Smith: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is the body with statutory responsibility for ensuring that the standards of GCSE and A level qualifications are maintained over time. QCA has a rolling programme of standards reviews, which began in 1997. The reports are available on the QCA website. This includes the report of the Independent Committee on Examination Standards chaired by Barry McGaw, Dec04, which found that no examination system at the school or other level is so tightly or carefully managed.

Failing Schools

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what new powers will be required by local education authorities to enable them to intervene in failing schools in the manner envisaged in the Schools White Paper. [31880]

Jacqui Smith: Local authorities already have a range of powers to enable them to intervene when a school is judged by Ofsted to be failing. These include appointing additional governors, appointing an interim executive board and removing the school's delegated budget. We intend to create an addition power to enable local authorities to force a weak school to join a federation with a stronger school. We also intend to strengthen local authorities' existing powers to issue warning notices to schools that are badly under-performing, but which have not yet failed an inspection—we want local authorities to intervene early to ensure a school's weaknesses are addressed at an earlier stage to prevent formal school failure. If a school failed satisfactorily to comply with the warning notice, the local authority would be able to use the powers of intervention described above.

We are also proposing a new duty on local authorities to consider radical options to secure school improvement at an early stage; and to reconsider action if the school fails to make adequate progress. We have already reduced the numbers of schools in special measures by over half since 1998, and significantly reduced the average time a school spends in special measures. We now need to ensure local authorities take swifter and more decisive action to address school failure so that all children can achieve their full potential.

Falling School Rolls

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment the Department has made of the effects of falling school rolls in (a) England and (b) Cheltenham constituency; and if she will make a statement. [32782]

Jacqui Smith: The Department's national forecasts indicate that primary school rolls will fall by 129,000 between 2004/05 and 2007/08 with secondary rolls falling by 133,000 between 2004/05 and 2007/08.
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Local authority forecast data is at authority level and we do not have forecasts for the Cheltenham constituency. Gloucestershire local authority's 2004 forecasts indicate that primary rolls will increase by 964 between 2004/05 and 2007/08 and secondary rolls will increase by 2,212 between 2004/05 and 2010/11.

We have developed a toolkit offering practical advice to help local authorities manage the challenges and opportunities presented by falling primary rolls. The toolkit is available at rolls.

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