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19 Dec 2005 : Column 2409W—continued

Departmental Website

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much the website www.teachernet.gov.uk has cost her Department since it was set up. [38016]

Bill Rammell: The ongoing annual cost to host the TeacherNet website (www.teachernet.gov.uk) is £360,000.

This website is shortly to be integrated with other online services and migrated onto a new technical infrastructure which will deliver better value for money.

Disabled People

Ed Balls: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much funding was allocated to the provision of after-school care for children with disabilities in (a) West Yorkshire, (b) the Wakefield district and (c) Normanton constituency in each year since 1997; and what future funding has been allocated. [36747]

Maria Eagle: We are making funding available to all local authorities and schools up to 2008 to support them in setting up and embedding extended services in mainstream and special schools. The Government does not specify how much of this funding should be spent on disabled children. It will be for individual local authorities, in discussion with all schools in their area, to take a strategic approach to developing access to after school care through schools.

The Extended Schools prospectus issued in June 2005 makes it clear that children with disabilities or special educational needs must be able to access all new
 
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services, and, schools have a responsibility to ensure that this happens. The needs of children in particular schools will vary. Schools will need to work closely with parents to ensure that services are shaped around the needs of children and the wider community.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on theinitial activity undertaken by her Department in response to those recommendations in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit Report Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People where lead responsibility was assigned to all Government Departments. [37066]

Maria Eagle: The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) will report annually to the Prime Minister on cross-Government progress in implementing the Strategy Unit report, Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People". The first report is due to be published by summer 2006. A central unit in my Department is currently drawing together activities in response to the recommendations and will be liaising with the Department for Work and Pensions in drawing up thereport, which will also include an assessment of the initial activity undertaken by Government Departments to fulfil the responsibilities they have outside of the ODI remit.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms she has identified to enable local authorities to switch spending on services for families with disabled children from later intervention to early intervention; and if she will make a statement. [37346]

Maria Eagle: Early intervention is central to our policies on services for families with disabled children including the Childcare Strategy, the National Service Framework and Every Child Matters. These documents are already in the public domain.

Through the implementation of the 10-year childcare strategy, we have prioritised services to disabled children and their families. In particular, the early support programme sets out to improve the delivery of services for disabled children aged 0–3 years and their families. The early support programme was developed with the full involvement of parents and professionals and has produced resource materials demonstrating multi-agency work and effective practice. The work has been piloted with 45 pathfinder authorities and the approach and principles can be adopted by every local authority.

The National Service Framework (NSF) for Children, Young People and Maternity Services sets national standards for the first time for children's health and social care (and their interface with education) which promote high quality, child-centred services and personalised care that meets the needs of children, young people and their families. Standard one of the framework is about promoting health and well-being, identifying needs and intervening early. It is being delivered by a range of practitioners including GPs, midwives, health visitors, dentists, early years workers, school nurses and teachers working together. It addresses the needs of children from pre-conception to adulthood and integrates pre-school and school aged health promotion and assessment.
 
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Within the Every Child Matters agenda, a key driver for early intervention at local level is effective multi-agency work through children's trust arrangements. This includes better information sharing, enhanced coordination at the front line around the needs of the users, and the more flexible use of budgets. Supporting this transition to earlier intervention will be an important theme in the forthcoming comprehensive spending review.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will adopt a key performance indicator for provision by education services of equipment services for disabled people; and if she will make a statement. [37347]

Maria Eagle: I have established mechanisms for agencies to work together to provide equipment services for disabled children through the National Service Framework, Every Child Matters and Children's Trusts. These mechanisms allow education services, local authorities and health services to work together to provide equipment services for disabled children that meet local needs. Specifying a key performance indicator that just looks at provision by education services would therefore not capture the full picture of overall provision of equipment to disabled people.

Early Retirement

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many of her Department's employees have taken early retirement in each year since 1997. [34037]

Maria Eagle: The number of employees who have taken early retirement in each financial year since 1997 are shown in the table.
Financial year (April to March)Number of employees
1997–98101
1998–9951
1999–200050
2000–0161
2001–0284
2002–0357
2003–0428
2004–05325

Education Maintenance Allowance

Edward Miliband: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the cost is of the education maintenance allowance scheme in 2005–06; and what estimate she has made of the cost if the lower age limit were abolished. [35602]

Maria Eagle: The current budget for education maintenance allowance (EMA) payments in the financial year 2005–06 is £403 million. However EMA is a demand led programme which is funded through Annually Managed Expenditure by HM Treasury so final provision may be different.

Although we are able to estimate the percentage of 16–18 year olds eligible for EMA on income grounds, we do not have household income for young people under the age of 16—specifically those who have
 
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completed GCSEs a year or more early. Therefore, we are unable to estimate the cost of EMA if the lower age limit was abolished.

Education Model (Sweden)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what account she took of the Swedish education model when preparing the proposals in the White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All. [37781]

Jacqui Smith: The proposals in the Schools White Paper, Higher Standards better schools for All: More Choice for Parents and Pupils" are designed to meet the needs of schools In England. The proposals take into account developments since 1997, building on existing programmes such as the special schools and new approaches to leadership, federation and collaboration.

There are significant differences between the Swedish model and the proposals for trust schools set out in the White Paper. Trust will not be able to make a profit and there will be no right to supply" for promoters wishing to set up a new school.

Educational Qualifications (Coventry, South)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of working age people in Coventry, South hold a qualification at degree level or equivalent or above. [37887]

Bill Rammell: From the 2004/05 Annual Local Labour Force Survey, the percentage of working age people in Coventry, South that hold a qualification at degree level or equivalent or above is 30.5 per cent. (18,000 people). This compares with 23.0 per cent. (734,000 people) in the West Midlands and 26.1 per cent. (7,948,000 people) in England.


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