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The Department for Education and Skills spent £2.3 million from administration costs and £7.5 million from programme expenditure on consultants from March 2005 to date. The Department does not hold centrally information on the number of consultants engaged in this period and it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
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All these figures relate to consultancy as defined centrally by the Office for Government Commerce (OGC). Other transactions also take place with consultancy firms, who supply a range of services which are not consultancy under this standard definition.
Maria Eagle: The Children Act 1989 recognises that, in the majority of cases, it will be in a child's best interests to maintain contact with his or her birth family and includes a duty to promote contact, unless that is not reasonably practicable or consistent with the child's welfare. In such cases, the Act makes provision for contact arrangements to be supervised, restricted or suspended. Exceptionally, contact will be refused from the time the child enters care.
Consideration of contact is an essential part of the care planning process for looked after children and any arrangements for contact will therefore be kept under ongoing review and monitored in order to identify problems which may arise and changes which may need to be made to the arrangements. Detailed records about contact will form part of each child's case record and will be considered as part of regular formal review meetings, although the review of contact arrangements should not be restricted to such meetings. Following an amendment to the Review of Children's Cases Regulations in 2004, review meetings must, where possible, be chaired by an independent reviewing officer, whose role it is to ensure both that the child's views are understood and taken into account and that reviews are carried out in accordance with the relevant regulations.
Once an adoption order is made, any existing contact order will be extinguished and the adopters will acquire full parental responsibility for the child. Unless the court makes a new contact order, it will be for the adopters themselves to decide on the nature and extent of the child's contact with his or her birth family. The Government have, however, put in place a new framework for supporting adoptive families, which includes counselling, advice, information and assistance with facilitating appropriate contact arrangements.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the organisations to which her Department made payments through grants or contracts other than in relation to the Department's administrative expenditure over the value of £20,000 in 200405. 
Bill Rammell: A list of organisations who received over £20,000 in grants and contracts in 200405 from the Department for Education and Skills other than in relation to the Department's administrative expenditure has been placed in the House of Commons Library.
Maria Eagle: The information requested is set out in the following table. The figures are taken from the Department's resource accounts for the years in question. They represent the gross wages and salaries of civil servants, including bonuses, but excluding the costs of Ministers and special advisers and social security and other pension costs.
Salaries (£ million)
|Salaries as percentage of net admin costs|
Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what national target she has set for the percentage of children looked after for a year or more achieving five or more GCSE (a) A*-C and (b) A-G grades by 2009. 
the proportion of those aged 16 who get qualifications equivalent to five GCSE's graded A*-C has risen on average by 4 percentage points each year since 2002; and in all authorities at least 15 per cent. of young people in care achieve this level of qualification.
To narrow the gap in educational achievement between looked after children and their peers, and improve their educational support and the stability of their lives, so that by 2008, 80 per cent. of children under 16 who have been looked after for 2.5 or more years will have been living in the same placement for at least two years, or are placed for adoption.
This is underpinned by a number of indicators to improve absolute performance and narrow the gap
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between the performance of looked-after children and that of their peers. For education this included the following measures:
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the Institute of Fiscal Studies evaluation of the employer training programme; and if she will make a statement. 
Phil Hope: The IFS report identified a number of issues relating to the employer training pilots. The report has highlighted that we need to do more to attract the harder to reach employers and the subsequent phases of the pilots have shown us better how to do so. That has been one of the many real values of the pilots and their evaluation.
In some ETP areas around 25 per cent. of eligible employers are now taking part in the pilotsa far higher penetration rate than the 8 per cent. that IFS estimated carried out similar training without the pilots. We therefore anticipate that a higher proportion will be additional. Skills brokers in the new national programme, Train to Gain, will have a target of at least half the employers they engage being hard to reach", additional employers. We are making £15 million available in 200506 and £20 million in 200607 to develop the capacity of the brokerage network and implement a performance management system that focuses services on this priority and rewards achievement accordingly.
A number of evaluations, including the IFS report, have shown that employers identify many benefits from ETP including productivity improvement, changed attitudes to learning, improved motivation and provided employers and employees with a platform for progression. Participating employers were more likely to train their low-skilled staff to the benefit of their business and say that ETP has allowed them to train more people over a shorter period of time. So we are confident that we are already involving more hard-to-reach learners.
We expect Train to Gain to deliver over 40,000 additional level 2 qualifications in 200607; over 140,000 in 200708 and, by the time the programme reaches full capacity, 175,000 in 200809 and in each year thereafter.
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