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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the working relationship between local authorities and schools since 1997. 
Jacqui Smith: Many local authorities are working effectively with schools and partnerships of schools to raise standards, increase access to education and life chances for pupils. Schools responsibility for driving up standards is reinforced by the New Relationship with Schools, which builds on the freedoms they have increasingly received and also strengthens the changed role of local authorities, which is to challenge and support schools improvement, and, in particular, to intervene to prevent or overcome failure. The recently published White Paper 'Higher Standards, Better Schools For All' continues this direction of travel by building further on and extending school freedoms, and clarifying the new role for local authorities, as commissioner rather than provider. This will be central to the transformation of our school system and to all our reforms across education and children's services.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions she has had with the local authority in Poole on funding services previously financed by the Safeguarding Children Grant under the Local Government Settlement for 200607. 
Maria Eagle: We have had a number of discussions with the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Social Services about the Safeguarding Children's Grant. The grant has always been consistently described as being for 200406.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many schools in Islington have been offered the opportunity to participate in the London Challenge New Views scheme; and how many have participated in the scheme; 
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(2) what plans she has to extend the London Challenge New Views scheme to other regions of the country. 
Jacqui Smith: The New Views programme of residential visits has been offered to all London secondary schools as part of the London Student Pledge. Every secondary school in Islington has had the opportunity to take part. Eight secondary schools out of the nine in Islington chose to take part in this voluntary scheme.
The consultation on the Education outside the Classroom Manifesto, which endorses all pupils having the opportunity for high quality out-of-classroom educational experiences, including residentials, will finish at the end of January 2006. The 10 working groups will make proposals for action early next year. Decisions have not yet been made on extending New Views outside London.
Maria Eagle: My Department has in place a range of measures to support managers and employees on health and welfare issues. Staff with mental ill-health can access professional counselling and awareness sessions undertaken by the Department's employee assistance provider Right Corecare.
The services of Right Corecare are complemented by internal policies and procedures aimed at ensuring consistent standards of behaviour, enabling fair and prompt mediation in the event of a grievance and through the provision of flexible working options. A number of flexible working options e.g. job share, part-time, part year, compressed hours and home working are available to staff to help them achieve a better work/life balance and to enable them to work effectively within the department.
My Department has developed a draft stress prevention policy based on the HSE Management Standards and is working towards introducing it with supporting procedures early in the new year. Health promotion events and internal communication systems are used to promote occupational health issues including healthy lifestyle options, time management and leisure activities. Leisure activities such as aerobics and the use of on site or local fitness centres are supported and encouraged.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent discussions she has had with (a) local authorities and (b) education specialists in (i) the UK, (ii) the North East and (iii) Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland constituency. 
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of people aged 22 years and under had started a modern apprenticeship by 2004; and if she will make a statement. 
Phil Hope: Final figures for the academic year 2004/05 show that 28.1 per cent. of young people started an apprenticeship by age 22 in that year. This is slightly higher than our PSA Target of 28 per cent. and was a great achievement by all involved in the apprenticeship programme, particularly the Learning and Skills Council and training providers. In meeting this ambitious target we have successfully revived apprenticeships as a highly valued learning option following many years of decline.
Phil Hope: This information is published in the Statistical First Release Further Education, Work Based Learning for Young People and Adult and Community LearningLearners Numbers in England 2004/05", published on 8 December 2005. The document is available from the Learning and Skills Council website www.lsc.gov.uk and copies have been placed in the House Libraries.
Jacqui Smith: My Department decides whether and how the conclusions of research it (a) commissions and (b) produces should be peer reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Given the diversity or research conducted, my Department does not consider it practical to have a fixed approach.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the public relations companies that have had contracts with (a) her Department, (b) each (i) non-departmental public body and (ii) executive agency for which her Department is responsible and (c) independent statutory bodies, organisations and bodies financially sponsored by her Department and other such organisations since May 1997. 
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