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Postgraduate Courses

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department is taking to encourage children from families on low income to pursue postgraduate courses. [49614]

Bill Rammell: The Government are committed to encouraging people from all backgrounds to take up research careers, and this includes making the career choice a more attractive one and the career more secure. As part of this, we have provided funding for an increase of one-third in the minimum Research Council PhD stipend between 2003–04 and 2005–06.

The available evidence suggests that, once people qualify with a first degree qualification, their background does not significantly affect their decision to enter postgraduate study. The 2005 report Young Participation in Higher Education", by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), estimates that the degree of inequality between young postgraduate participation rates is similar to that of young undergraduate students suggesting that the effects of background are negligible at this stage.

Our policies to widen participation at undergraduate level, including our reforms to student finance, and the Aimhigher programme which seeks to raise the attainment levels of young people and their aspirations to university, are therefore also likely to help to widen participation at postgraduate level.

Public Information

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent on the Department's public relations and information services in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [48961]

Bill Rammell: The following table lists spend on public relations and information services for the Department of Education and Skills, in each of the last five years.
Public relationsPublic relations expenditure as a percentage of total DfES spendWeb services as part of ad campaign (£000)Web services expenditure as a percentage of total DfES spendDirect marketing phone lines (£000)Direct marketing phone line expenditure as a percentage of total DfES spend

(25) Planned.

School Bus Passes

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what rules apply to the provision of school bus passes to (a) junior and (b) high school children. [51402]

Jacqui Smith: There are no specific rules relating to the provision of bus passes.

Under current legislation local education authorities (LEAs) have a legal duty to make transport arrangements, which might include bus passes, where they consider it 'necessary' to secure a pupil's attendance at school. The law stipulates that it must always be considered 'necessary' where a child of compulsory school age attends their nearest suitable
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school, and this is beyond 'statutory walking distance' (two miles for those under the age of eight and three miles for those aged eight and over).

School Playing Fields

Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many school playing fields in Loughborough constituency have been sold since May 1997. [51125]

Jacqui Smith: We have not approved any application involving the sale of a school playing field in Loughborough constituency since May 1997.

School Psychologists

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average waiting time is for a child in Lancashire to see a school psychologist. [51403]

Maria Eagle: This information is not collected centrally.

School Sport Facilities

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what funding her Department has made available for improvements to school sports facilities in (a) Tamworth and (b) England in each year between 1997 and 2005. [51415]

Jacqui Smith: Significant funding is being provided specifically to enhance PE and school sport facilities between 2001 and 2009. In total, £686 million of lottery funding is providing a step change in school sport facilities through the space for sport and arts and big lottery's new opportunities for PE and sport programmes.

Local authorities and schools may supplement this with the formula capital funding that we provide to them. However, it is the responsibility of the schools and local authorities to determine how they allocate these funds to different projects, including enhancing school sports facilities, taking account of local needs and priorities. Records are not held centrally that show how much of this funding is spent on school sports facilities, neither am I able to provide a breakdown for Tamworth.

Schoolchildren (Employment)

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what estimate she has made of the number of children who work before school; what types of employment they are engaged in; and how many children are estimated to be employed in each type; [50267]

(2) if she will make a statement on her Department's assessment of the impact on children of carrying out paid work before the start of the school day. [50273]

Maria Eagle: The information requested is not collected centrally. Local authority bylaws establish in general what work children may undertake. Such
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bylaws may permit children to work for one hour before school, although not before 7 am. This limits the kind of work that children may legally carry out in the mornings before school. Within these limits, participation in suitable work is a matter for individual choice, with advice where necessary from parents, carers, and other relevant adults. Such work can offer young people an opportunity to develop their self-confidence and life skills, such as personal organisation and dealing with people.

Sector Skills Councils

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will rank the licensed Sector Skills Councils by proportion of their funding derived from the Sector Skills Development Agency in the last year for which figures are available; and what proportion of the balance of funding for each council was derived from (a) other public sources and (b) the private sector. [51279]

Phil Hope: The list shows the Sector Skills Councils ranked by proportion of their funding derived from the Sector Skills Development Agency. They are ranked highest to lowest by proportion of income (top to bottom of the list). Only the first 18 are ranked. The information is based on data collated in July 2005. Data was not available for the new/unlicensed SSCs at that point and ConstructionSkills is an outlier.

Information on the proportion of balance funding derived from (a) the public sector and (b) the private sector is not given as the release of this information would prejudice commercial interests.

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