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Primary School Administration

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will take steps to reduce the rate at which changes to the administrative procedures undertaken by head teachers of primary schools are introduced. [52662]

Jacqui Smith: We recognise that we ask a lot of primary school leaders. We are determined though that every primary school should provide all their children, whatever their background, with the support they need to be healthy; stay safe; enjoy and achieve; make a positive contribution; develop as confident and enthusiastic learners; and grasp the basic skills of literacy and numeracy.

Those working in and with our primary schools are making a tremendous contribution towards raising standards and improving the lives of our children. Primary schools have made significant progress in recent years and should be pleased with this progress. However, there is still much to be done. For example, there are still too many 11-year-olds who do not reach the levels in reading, writing, and mathematics they need to flourish in secondary school.

Children only get one chance to start their schooling. That is why school improvement needs to happen as quickly as possible. At the same time we know that the pace of change has to be manageable. We have a range of measures in place and in development to make sure that is the case.

First, for the contractual amendments that are freeing teachers to teach and school leaders to lead we worked more closely than ever before with the school workforce unions, employers and professional associations to phase changes in over a three year period.

Second, on teachers' pay and conditions we take the advice of the independent School Teachers Review Body on changes needed to put in place the right incentives for teachers to focus on continuously improving their teaching and learning.
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Third, we are developing a new relationship with schools. From next year primary schools will work with a School Improvement Partner, agreeing school improvement priorities in a single school plan and accounting for them through streamlined accountability arrangements. Already we have cut Ofsted inspections from a week to a couple of days.

Fourth, within the Department we have introduced arrangements that resulted last year in six surveys of schools being incorporated into a single school census where the information is harvested from school management systems automatically. We have stopped sending hard copies of documents to school informing them electronically of what is available and leaving it to them to order only those they need and want, in the quantities and at the time they want them. We trimmed 38 requests for new data from schools to five and we more than halved the number of new initiatives for schools in 2005.

Fifth, in our recent White Paper we underlined the importance of external scrutiny of the way we deliver new policies by extending the remit of the Implementation Review Unit (IRU) for a further two years to 2008. This is an independent panel of serving senior school practitioners who challenge the Department to ensure our implementation plans are practicable and free from unnecessary burdens.

The view of the IRU is that school leaders themselves can do a great deal to manage their own workload. The IRU themselves, have issued to all schools a set of principles head teachers might adopt. If followed, these principles will help heads to ensure that their approach to national and local initiatives gives maximum benefit to their own school with the minimum burden. A copy of those principles is as follows.

Implementation Review Unit (IRU)

Reducing bureaucracy in schools: principles for schools

The IRU is working with the DfES, local authorities and other partner organisations to encourage them to reduce their bureaucratic impact on schools and to help them find ways of doing so. There are, however, approaches schools can take themselves which will help lessen the problem of bureaucracy.

These approaches are embodied in the following principles which, if applied by schools, will contribute to reducing their bureaucratic burdens and which, we consider, will have a positive impact on staff throughout the school.

We believe that head teachers and governors should:

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Pupil Exclusion

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the (a) shortest and (b) longest fixed period is for a pupil exclusion, short of permanent exclusion. [53570]

Jacqui Smith: The maximum period allowed for a fixed period exclusion is 45 school days in any one school year. There is no minimum period.

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many pupils have been excluded from school in (a) Uxbridge, (b) the London borough of Hillingdon and (c) Greater London in the last 10 years for which figures are available. [53643]

Jacqui Smith: Data on permanent exclusions are available from 1996/97 onwards. The available information is given in the table.
Maintained primary, secondary and all special schools: Number and percentage of permanent exclusions 1995/96 to 2003/04

Uxbridge parliamentary constituency

Hillingdon local authority


(135) The number of exclusions expressed as a percentage of the total number of pupils on the school roll in January of the same school year. Excludes dually registered pupils.
(136) 1 or 2 exclusions, or a rate based on 1 or 2 exclusions.
(137) There are known quality issues with exclusions data for these years. Figures shown here for Uxbridge parliamentary constituency are as reported by schools but are unconfirmed and should be used with caution. Figures for Hillingdon local authority and London have been checked back with authorities.
Annual Schools Census

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