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19 Dec 2005 : Column 2426W—continued

School Science

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps are being taken to encourage more pupils to study (a) physics, (b) chemistry and (c) mathematics at A level. [37021]

Jacqui Smith: The Government's recent 14–19 Education and Skills White Paper reaffirms our commitment, as outlined in the 10-year Science and Innovation Investment Framework and our response to Professor Smith's inquiry into post-14 mathematics education, to encourage more young people to study
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physics, chemistry and mathematics at A level. We are taking this forward by improving teaching and learning across all school phases by:

School Sports

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to encourage children to participate in sport in schools; and if she will make a statement. [38231]

Jacqui Smith: The Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are jointly implementing the national school sport strategy in England. In the five years to 2008 over £1.5billion is being invested (including £686 million lottery funding) to implement the strategy. Spearheading action is the creation of a national network of sports colleges and school sport partnerships across England. To date, 80 per cent. of schools in England are already part of one of the 411 live partnerships and all schools will be within one by 2006.

The strategy is delivering an ambitious public service agreement target to increase the percentage of 5 to 16-year-olds who spend a minimum of two hours a week on high quality PE and school sport within and beyond
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the curriculum to 75 per cent. by 2006 and then 85 per cent. by 2008. The long-term ambition, by 2010, is to offer all children at least four hours of sport every week.

Good progress is being made and we are on track to deliver the target. The 2004/05 school sport survey results found that overall, 69 per cent. of pupils in the 11,498 schools involved, were participating in at least two hours of high quality PE and school sport a week. In 2003/04 this figure was 62 per cent.

Of course my hon. Friend would know that the issue of PE and sport in schools in Wales is a devolved matter.

Schools (Energy Provision)

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many schools are fitted with (a) solar panels, (b) photovoltaic roof tiles, (c) micro combined heat and power and (d) micro generation technologies. [35804]

Jacqui Smith: My Department does not hold data onnumbers of schools with solar panels, photovoltaic roof tiles, micro combined heat and power, or micro-generation technologies. 184 schools have been helped from the microgeneration funding programmes administered by the Department of Trade and Industry. In supporting the expansion of the microgeneration sector, the Government place particular emphasis on renewable energy technology in school buildings.

Schools (Gravesham)

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what funding is planned to be made available to schools in Gravesham for anti-bullying campaigns. [37838]

Jacqui Smith: Funding for anti-bullying campaigns is not made available on either a local authority or school by school basis. Rather it is a matter for local authorities to decide how they distribute funds to schools through their locally agreed formulae.

Support for anti-bullying work is embedded in the behaviour and attendance strands of the National Strategies which have at least one consultant in place in each local authority. In addition support is also provided through DfES funded Anti-Bullying Alliance coordinators in each Government Office region.

At a national level the Department has funded a number of initiatives to tackle bullying. Since 1997 this has included events to disseminate good practice, plus development of guidance and resources for schools. We have supported an award scheme to share and celebrate the excellent work of schools and young people. We have funded the voluntary sector to embed effective practice and offer training and support to schools, young people and their parents. We have run public information campaigns encouraging children to 'tell someone' and to support their friends as well as recently launching two new DVD resources during this year's Anti-Bullying Week.

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of whether the funding increase for schools in Gravesham will ensure that all the schools will be able to fulfil the planning, preparation and assessment initiative. [37839]

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Jacqui Smith: We estimate that the full year costs of implementing the final phase of workforce reform fromSeptember 2005, including guaranteed time for planning, preparation and assessment for all teachers, will create an average pressure of 0.7 per cent. on the budgets of nursery and primary schools for 2006–07, on top of the 1 per cent. we allowed for in 2005–06. We have added that to our estimate of the universal, average cost pressures on schools in 2006–07 to give nursery and primary schools a guaranteed minimum increase in their core budgets of 4 per cent. per pupil next year. And we have earmarked £70 million within the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) to enable local authorities to meet the cost of the higher guarantee for nursery and primary schools. This funding will be consolidated into the DSG baseline for 2007–08.

Schools (Parental Involvement)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what evidence her Department has evaluated on whether parents wish to play a more active role in (a) establishing new schools and (b) attending parents' councils. [37848]

Jacqui Smith: We have received several inquiries from parents interested in setting up new maintained schools. Four parent groups have published proposals to establish new schools of which two have been successful.

A survey of parental involvement published last year showed that 72 per cent. of parents say they want to be more involved in their child's education but only 48 per cent. feel that the school makes it easy to get involved. The current vacancy rate for parent governors is around 10 per cent.—parents want to be more involved, but do not come forward to volunteer as parent governors.

Parent councils will be more accessible: they will be less formal, a lesser commitment and parents will be able to focus discussion on areas they are interested in. We funded a small-scale pilot project to look at experience and develop some good practice—the evaluation showed that the parent councils engaged parents who would not have had the confidence to raise concerns on their own or to be parent governors, that parents had views and ideas to share, and that schools and parents were keen to continue and embed the project.

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