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Phil Hope: In 200405 the Learning and Skills Council spent £2,999 million on education and training programmes for 3,995,000 adult learners, at an average cost of £750 per adult. The cost of a course for a learner will depend on the length of the course, the type of learning, the characteristics of the learner and the location of the provision.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many adult education students attended courses in Essex in each of the last five years; what adult education courses are offered in Essex; and how many adult literacy course places were available in Essex in each of the last five years. 
The Department allocates funds for education and training in the post-16 learning and skills sector, including adult education, to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The LSC is responsible for the planning and funding of post-16 education and works
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through 47 local offices within a framework set by Government. The LSC has published information about the number of learners achieving skills for life, including literacy, target qualifications in local LSC areas including Essex, in its most recent annual report and accounts for 200405. In the period 2001 to 2004, 17,648 people in Essex achieved a qualification. I am copying this letter to Mark Haysom, the Council's chief executive so that he can respond with further details about the other specific issues raised.
The Department commissioned the national adult learning survey (NALS) in 1997, 2001 and 2002 and reports of these studies are in the House of Commons Library. A further survey took place in 2005 and the report will be published later this year. These surveys provide data on participation in different types of adult learning by a range of demographic characteristics, socio-economic and educational background, and local deprivation factors.
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The surveys show that participation in adult learning is highest amongst those in full-time employment and lowest among those who are retired or incapable of work. Participation is also positively related to qualification levels, to household income and to socio-economic group, being highest among professional and managerial workers and lowest amongst unskilled manual workers. There is an inverse relationship between levels of participation in learning and levels of local deprivation.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many neighbourhood learning centres were set up following the report of the policy action team of the Social Exclusion Unit in 1999; and how many are still open. 
Maria Eagle: As there are already large numbers of local centres including schools, colleges, community centres and a wide range of centres run by local authorities and the voluntary sector we took the decision not to deliberately create new centres. Instead we have, through the Learning and Skills Council, created the neighbourhood learning in deprived communities fund to support local voluntary and community sector organisations to deliver learning opportunities for residents in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. For 2005/06 the budget is £30 million of which £10 million is for capital projects.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average level of employer contributions was to fees for further education adult learning programmes in the last year for which figures are available. 
Bill Rammell: In 2003/04 and 2004/05 adult learners in further education (FE) were assumed to contribute 25 per cent. of the basic course cost of their learning unless fees were remitted because the learner was receiving an income-based benefit or on a Skills for Life programme. This proportion increased to 27.5 per cent. in 2005/06, and will rise again in 2006/07 to 32.5 per cent. and to 37.5 per cent. in 2007/08. In average terms, this means a rise from an hourly rate of £1.42 to £1.94 by 2007/08. The fees collected by FE colleges and other providers cannot be broken down by the source of funder and may be paid by the individual learner or their employer.
The Skills Strategy White Paper set out a vision for transforming the way in which the learning and skills sector can support higher national investment in skills, which included ensuring that the state, employers and individuals all contribute towards the costs of their learning, in line with the benefits received by each.
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In order to increase the levels of fees collected, from 2005/06 the LSC agreed a fee income measure with each FE funded provider. To assist providers in developing a strategic approach to, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) published a good practice guide to fee income earlier this year. Clearly, with the increase in the fee assumption, it will be important that FE providers recover as much money as possible from learners and employers.
According to figures from ODPM, around 60 per cent. of school fires are started deliberately. It is a serious problem and the Department has issued guidance on arson prevention in two of its Managing School Facilities handbooks: Guide 4, Improving Security in Schools" and; Guide 6, Fire Safety". Both of these are published by the Stationery Office, and the latter can also be viewed on www.teachernet.gov.uk/fire. The Department is also represented on the Arson in Schools Working Group, an inter-departmental and inter-agency group, which produced the guide How to combat Arson in Schools", available from the Arson Prevention Bureau.
Work on new fire safety guidance for schools is well advanced and this includes further advice on arson prevention. Entitled Designing and Managing Against the Risk of Fire in Schools", we expect to be able to publish this by September this year.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what advice her Department has issued to schools concerning the health and safety of pupils and staff in the event of an outbreak of avian influenza. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 14 February 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to earlier replies to the hon. Member for East Devon (Mr. Swire) on 8 November 2005, Official Report, column 445W, and the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) on 7 December 2005, Official Report, column 1341W.
Jacqui Smith: The Government ended the centrally funded Beacon Schools programme in August 2005. For secondary schools the Leading Edge Partnership programme (LEPP) builds on the success of the Beacon Schools programme. Schools were assessed against a range of criteria to join LEPP including performance data and evidence of innovative and collaborative practice. Participation in the LEPP from 2006 onwards is open to specialist schools who meet certain performance criteria at re-designation.
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