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Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what strategies her Department is pursuing to assist local authorities further to develop and support family and friends placements for care of children; and if she will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: We are committed to helping local authorities to improve the use and support of family and friends carers, both for children who are looked after by local authorities and those who remain the legal responsibility of their families.
Information has already been included on the Every Child Matters website about the legal arrangements for caring for a child by family and friends, which cover issues such as parental responsibility, the availability of universal services and benefits, together with details of support that may be provided by local authorities. Practitioners may find this useful when providing advice to carers and potential carers.
Work is being taken forward to ensure that children who cannot live with their birth parents are instead enabled to live in the most appropriate alternative placement for them.
15 Feb 2006 : Column 2067W
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she next plans to review the operation of the Common Assessment Framework with regard to children in family and friends placements. 
Maria Eagle: The Common Assessment Framework aims to help identify children's additional needs at an early stage, taking a holistic view of their circumstances, including a specific focus on the involvement of parents or carers. When needs have been identified, the Framework will help relevant practitioners to communicate and agree timely and co-ordinated support.
Practitioners will be able to use the Framework to assess the additional needs of children who are cared for by family or friends, where that would add value. However in many cases such children will already have assessments, and there is no intention to duplicate processes.
The Framework is currently being reviewed through trials in a number of local areas across England, with a view to national implementation over 200608. The University of East Anglia, on behalf of my Department, is currently evaluating the trials to inform revisions to the relevant forms, processes, guidance and training materials, which the Government intends to issue by April 2006. The Government's intention is that the Framework will continue to include a specific focus on assessing a child's needs for parenting and care, and that it will be relevant for use with children in families and friends placements where appropriate.
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the effects on costs have been in the last two financial years as a consequence of nationally-brokered framework contracts for the acquisition of (a) computers and (b) interactive whiteboards for schools. 
Phil Hope: The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) is making significant progress in delivering improved value for money for schools. The approach of national frameworks linked to regional aggregation of demands, coupled with local choice, provides a range of benefits for schools which otherwise would not be realised. The overall effect has been to reduce costs significantly. The total saving from these initiatives so far is £75.8 million.
Savings achieved through the laptop framework agreement are £17.6 million in 200304; £9 million in 200405; and £4.5 million from April 2005 to December 2005. Savings achieved through the interactive whiteboard framework agreement are £17 million in 200405; and £6.6 million from April 2005 to December 2005.
Significant progress is being made on operating and office productivity software used on computers. Becta negotiated a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft. The potential savings for schools are £46 million over three years and equates to typical savings for schools of between 20 per cent. and 37 per cent. dependent upon the mix of software used. Savings achieved so far are £2.6 million from January 2004 to March 2004; £10.6 million in 200405; and £7.9 million from April 2005 to December 2005.
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Becta is developing a more comprehensive range of framework agreements in order to obtain best value for money on behalf of our schools.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will extend fee remission for further education courses to pensioners in receipt of pensions credit. 
Bill Rammell: We are committed to ensuring further education (FE) serves the needs of the whole community and those learners, and their dependants, receiving a means tested benefit, and unemployed people on Jobseekers Allowance will continue to benefit from free tuition on publicly funded courses. Older learners receiving the Pension (Guarantee) Credit are already eligible for free learning on publicly funded FE courses. The Learning and Skills Council policies on funding free learning (fee remission) are based on the principle that those on low incomes should not have to contribute to the tuition costs of their learning. Learners of any age will continue to have access to literacy, numeracy and English language courses free of charge, as well as free tuition to undertake a first full level 2 qualification.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what proportion of pupils achieved five GCSEs grade A* to C including mathematics and English in (a) community schools with a specialism, (b) foundation schools with a specialism, (c) voluntary controlled schools with a specialism and (d) voluntary aided schools with a specialism in 200405; 
(2) To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many secondary schools with a specialism are (a) community schools, (b) foundation schools, (c) voluntary controlled schools and (d) voluntary aided schools; 
(3) how many secondary (a) foundation schools and (b) voluntary aided schools have sixth forms; and what proportion of pupils gained (i) five GCSEs grades A* to C and (ii) five GCSEs grades A* to C including English and mathematics in each category of school in the last year for which figures are available; 
(4) how many specialist secondary schools (a) with and (b) without sixth forms are (i) community schools, (ii) voluntary aided schools, (iii) voluntary controlled schools and (iv) foundation schools; and what proportion of pupils gained (A) five GCSEs A*-C and (B) five GCSEs A*-C including English and mathematics in each category of specialist secondary school in the last year for which figures are available. 
The information requested is outlined in the following table.
15 Feb 2006 : Column 2069W
|Percentage of 15-year-old pupils|
|School type/specialist||Sixth form||Number of schools||5+ A*-C||5+ A*-C including English and maths|
|Specialist||with sixth form||652||56.9||44.6|
|without sixth form||533||54.0||39.7|
|Non-specialist||with sixth form||315||47.4||35.8|
|without sixth form||488||42.1||29.7|
|Total||with sixth form||967||54.1||42.0|
|without sixth form||1,021||48.9||35.5|
|Specialist||with sixth form||216||70.4||57.9|
|without sixth form||89||62.5||48.5|
|Non-specialist||with sixth form||120||61.5||49.7|
|without sixth form||107||50.4||37.5|
|Total||with sixth form||336||67.4||55.1|
|without sixth form||196||56.9||43.4|
|Specialist||with sixth form||54||64.7||54.0|
|without sixth form||8||57.8||49.2|
|Non-specialist||with sixth form||22||65.7||58.2|
|without sixth form||11||45.8||31.4|
|Total||with sixth form||76||65.0||55.1|
|without sixth form||19||51.6||40.0|
|Specialist||with sixth form||305||66.0||54.5|
|without sixth form||75||57.6||43.3|
|Non-specialist||with sixth form||80||54.8||42.7|
|without sixth form||42||47.7||37.7|
|Total||with sixth form||385||63.8||52.2|
|without sixth form||117||54.4||41.5|
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