Previous Section Index Home Page

27 Feb 2006 : Column 579W—continued

School Leavers (Peterborough)

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people have left school at 16 years of age in (a) parliamentary Peterborough constituency and (b) Peterborough local education authority with less than the equivalent of five GCSEs at A to C grades in each year since 1997. [50339]

Jacqui Smith: The figures requested are shown in the following table:
Proportion of 15-year-olds(145) not achieving 5 or more A* to C grades at GCSE and equivalent(146): Maintained schools only

Parliamentary constituency of Peterborough(147)City of Peterborough local authority(148)

(145) Age at the start of the academic year (i.e. 31 August)
(146) From 1997 includes GNVQ equivalences and from 2004 other equivalences approved for use pre 16
(147) Pupils attending schools located in Peterborough constituency
(148) City of Peterborough LA did not exist prior to 1998 due to Local Government reorganisation

School Maintenance

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what steps she has taken to ensure improved efficiency in respect of the procurement of school maintenance; and what savings have been made as a consequence; [52133]

(2) what assessment she has made of savings made as a consequence of the schools capital and building schools for the future programmes. [52134]

Jacqui Smith: By moving from patch and mend" to long-term strategic capital investment, as in building schools for the future, we expect there to be significant savings over time for both public and private sectors, including in procurement of school maintenance.

Savings should come, for example, from simplified bidding, paperwork and bureaucracy, improved local asset management, grouped procurement and economies of scale, new joint venture structures, standardisation of processes and components, encouraging the market for the private sector, innovation in construction, benchmarking and testing
27 Feb 2006 : Column 580W
of supply chains, improvements in the sustainability and energy efficiency of buildings, or reductions in poorly maintained or life-expired building stock.

The first three waves of investment through building schools for the future are gaining momentum, with good evidence of market engagement. This should result in innovation and efficiency savings across the traditional supply chains, which in turn will now be benchmarked nationally, regionally and locally to ensure value for money.

We will be measuring efficiency gains from a range of specific initiatives which contribute to our Gershon efficiency target, including our capital programmes. These are set out in our efficiency technical note. In most cases, the gains are recyclable at the frontline into other activities rather than being clawed back by the Department. The Department is reporting progress towards our overall efficiency target through existing departmental reporting processes. We reported progress towards our target in the Department's autumn performance report and will report further progress in the departmental annual report which we expect to publish in April.

School Playing Fields

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total area in hectares of school playing fields was in each year since 1995. [52275]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not held centrally.

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many school playing fields in (a) Peterborough and (b) Cambridgeshire have been sold since May 1997. [52447]

Jacqui Smith: Since May 1997, two applications involving the sale of school playing field capable of forming at least a small sports pitch have been approved at schools in Peterborough. Only one such application has been approved at a school in Cambridgeshire.

Prior to October 1998, there was no regulation of the sale of school playing fields at local authority controlled schools. If a local authority wanted to sell a school playing field there was nothing to stop it and it could spend the proceeds as it wished.

Mr. Illsley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what records are kept by her Department of the (a) number and (b) area of school playing fields in England; [54107]

(2) whether there is a register of school playing fields; [54108]

(3) what criteria are used by her Department to assess the need for school playing fields; [54109]

(4) what criteria are used by her Department to determine whether a school playing field can be released for change of use. [54110]

Jacqui Smith: Data on school playing fields have been supplied to the Department by local education authorities in 2001 and 2003. However, because the data
27 Feb 2006 : Column 581W
were incomplete and of variable quality, it is not possible to accurately assess the number and area of school playing fields.

The Department's Building Bulletins 98 and 99 contain the recommendations on what proportion of a schools total area should be allocated to the provision of various areas of playing fields. The Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 require schools to have access to team game playing fields proportionate to their pupil numbers and type. Copies of the Buildings Bulletins and the regulations setting out the minimum standards for team game playing fields can be downloaded from the Departments website:

Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 prevents local authorities and governing bodies from disposing, or changing the use, of school playing fields, without the prior consent of the Secretary of State. The criteria which applications are assessed fall under three main headings which may be described as schools' needs, community use, and finance. Normally, applications to dispose, or change the use, of school playing fields will only be approved in the exceptional circumstances that fulfil these criteria. The Department's Guidance 1017/2004: The Protection of School Playing Fields and Land for Academies" set out the measures to underpin the Government's resolve to protect school playing fields. This guidance can also be accessed and downloaded from the Department's website.

School Staff (Checks)

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures are in place to ensure that foreign nationals working as teachers do not have criminal convictions in their countries of origin which would make them unsuitable for working with children. [44767]

Ruth Kelly: We advise schools to obtain a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Disclosure as part of their pre-appointment checks on anyone selected for appointment who is or has been resident in the UK. However, someone who has never lived in this country is unlikely to have a criminal record here and is unlikely to be included in List 99. We therefore advise employers to take extra care in other checks on overseas candidates and to seek information about the person's criminal history from their country of origin wherever possible. The CRB provides advice to employers about countries from which it is possible to obtain such information and how to obtain it.

School Standards

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures (a) New Brompton college in Medway, (b) South Leeds high school, (c) Hornby high school in Lancashire, (d) the Myrtle Springs school in Sheffield, (e) the Bishop of Westminster comprehensive school in Bournemouth and (f) Drayton school in Oxfordshire is taking to raise standards; and if she will make a statement. [53267]

27 Feb 2006 : Column 582W

Jacqui Smith: Each of these schools has low attainment and the Department is working closely with the Secondary National Strategy to ensure that standards in them are being raised. We are aware that action is being taken by the local authority in relation to each school, in some cases with additional support from my Department.

We are providing extra funding to New Brompton college in Medway to support improvements in staff recruitment and retention, data management and moves towards more personalised learning provision, the development of the vocational curriculum and to enhance management capacity.

South Leeds high school has been part of a project with five other high schools in Leeds supported by my Department and Education Leeds since 2004. The project involves partnership working, with consultant support, to raise standards in the schools involved.

Hornby high school in Lancashire is receiving support from the local authority to raise levels of attainment. The authority is confident that there will be a significant increase in the school's higher grade GCSE results this year.

Myrtle Springs school in Sheffield will be replaced by an academy. This will be known as the Sheffield Springs academy and will open in the school's existing buildings in September 2006. The construction of new buildings for the academy has begun and these are expected to be ready for occupation in January 2007.

The Bishop of Winchester comprehensive school in Bournemouth was judged to require special measures following an Ofsted inspection in December 2005. The local authority is currently considering an appropriate long-term solution for the school.

Drayton school in Oxfordshire is being supported by a School Improvement Partnership Board, and is working in partnership with Matthew Arnold school. A proposal for Drayton to be replaced by an academy is currently being developed by Oxfordshire county council and the United Learning Trust. We have agreed feasibility funding for the partnership to determine the practicalities of developing the academy.

Next Section Index Home Page