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Policy Reviews

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the policy reviews her Department has conducted in each year since 1997. [44330]

Bill Rammell: The Department maintains all of its key policies under review. Material on the key policy areas for which the Department is responsible can be found on our website at

Recreation Areas and Holiday Play Schemes

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to develop(a) safe and accessible recreation areas and (b) affordable school holiday play schemes for the most vulnerable families. [39406]

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Maria Eagle: Thanks to the £155 million play programme announced by the Big Lottery Fund in March 2005, a huge number of existing play facilities across England will be improved and new ones created. 80 per cent. of the fund will be used to develop free, open-access play provision in the areas of greatest need. Allocations will be made to local authorities based on child population weighted by the level of deprivation in each area but also taking into account where relatively affluent areas have pockets of deprivation (for example, rural areas).

For the older child, we have outlined new national standards for 'things to do and places to go' for young people. The standards include ensuring access to 'a range of safe and enjoyable places in which to spend time'. We intend to introduce new legislation that will clarify local authorities' responsibilities to secure access to such provision.

The Youth Matters Green Paper also outlined plans to put resources directly into the hands of young people so that they have more say over the way that resources are spent. Extra resources made available through the pre-Budget report mean that a total of £115 million will be available in the two financial years from April 2006 to support the provision of youth activities in communities, including the development of the Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital funds which will particularly help to support access for young people from vulnerable families.

We have also committed £840 million to help develop extended services, including holiday play schemes, so that they are accessible through all our schools by 2010. These funds have also been distributed with a weighting for levels of deprivation. The National Remodelling Team within the Training and Development Agency has been appointed to provide support to all schools to help develop extended services.

Special Educational Needs

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what arrangements there are to enable the statutory assessment procedure for a statement of special educational needs to be continued for pupils who transfer to a school in another local education authority area during the course of the procedure; and if she will make a statement. [45171]

Maria Eagle: Under the Education Act 1996 local authorities have a duty, where necessary, to assess the special educational needs of children for whom they are responsible. If, during the course of the assessment, a child transfers to a school in another local authority's area but remains resident in the original authority's area then the original authority remains responsible for completing the assessment. If the child moves to the area of the school which he or she is transferring to or any area other than that of the original authority, the original authority is no longer responsible for the child or completing the assessment. If the new authority to which the child moves deems that it is necessary to assess the child's special educational needs then the new authority is under a duty to do so. In such circumstances we would expect the two authorities concerned to contact each other and, within any legal constraints,
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transfer information from the assessment begun by the original authority to inform the assessment by the new authority.

Student Finance

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations she has received on allowing more flexibility to higher education institutions in the use of access funds; and if she will make a statement. [45215]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 24 January 2006]: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State and I have regular discussions with representatives from the higher education sector about a range of student finance issues, including the access to learning fund. The fund is designed to ensure that support is available to students from low-income backgrounds who might otherwise be unable to enter or remain in higher education. Higher education institutions, who administer the fund, have a high degree of discretion as to how to provide support, in order to target those most in need.

Last October, as part of our continuing commitment to part-time study, we announced an enhanced support package for part-time undergraduates from 2006/07, including an increase in the discretionary funds available to part-time students from £3 million to £12 million. Institutions will have the added flexibility to use this resource to provide additional fee support (on top of the statutory part-time grant) or to increase help to students facing financial hardship, for example, in meeting child care costs.

We also announced, in November, an additional £40 million (£20 million each from the Department and the Higher Education Funding Council for England) of institutional funding for 2006–07 to encourage participation and improve provision for part-time students from the most under-represented groups.

Teenage Pregnancies

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will introduce targets for teenage pregnancy reduction which reflect that some teenage pregnancies are planned; and if she will make a statement. [45230]

Beverley Hughes: We recognise that a minority of teenage pregnancies are planned. However, around half of under-18 conceptions end in abortion and the 1999 Social Exclusion Unit report on Teenage Pregnancy estimated that around 75 per cent. of teenage conceptions were unplanned.

While recognising that decisions about the outcome of pregnancy are for individuals to make, the aim of the Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy is to reduce unplanned pregnancies while encouraging young people to delay parenthood. Health and education outcomes for young mothers and their children are likely to be significantly worse than for older mothers.

Vocational Training

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment she has made of the impact of vocational training on industry. [40433]

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Phil Hope: Our Department is committed to ensuring that everyone has the skills he or she needs to be employable and personally fulfilled. Our 14–19 and Skills White Papers set out our strategies for ensuring that education and training meets the needs of employers.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is responsible for the effective planning and funding of learning to raise the skills of the work force and the potential work force. It engages through the year with providers and employers to ensure that provision matches employer skills demands.

Recent findings of the LSC funded National Employer Skills Survey (NESS) in 2003 and 2005 show:

Young Parents (Higher Education)

Ed Balls: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many 16 to 19-year-old parents have returned to higher education in (a) the Wakefield district and (b) the Normanton constituency since 1997. [30435]

Bill Rammell: The information is not held centrally.


Gaming Machines

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the triennial review of stakes and prizes for category C gaming machines; and if she will make a statement. [45883]

Mr. Caborn: Following the triennial review conducted by the Gaming Board in 2004, the Secretary of State decided not to make any changes for the time being to gaming machine stake and prize limits. A schedule for stakes and prize limits on implementation of the Act was published when the Gambling Bill was introduced, and this remains Government policy.

The Government are committed to increasing the maximum stake category C gaming to 50p. This increase will be implemented in September 2007 when the new safeguards relating to social responsibility introduced by the Gambling Act 2005 will be in place.

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