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27 Feb 2006 : Column 600W—continued

Training Allowances

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the cost was of minimum training allowances for unwaged trainees on work based learning in (a) 2003–04, (b) 2004–05 and (c) 2005–06. [33348]


 
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Bill Rammell: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) through an annual Grant Letter that sets out the LSC's key priorities. The operational delivery of individual programmes, taking account of these priorities and the funding made available by the Department, is a matter for the LSC.

The following table details the figures for work based learning for the relevant years. All amounts are rounded to the nearest £1 million.
2003–042004–052005–06
Work-based learning youth565615606
E2E206247220
Work based learning adult213243269
Total9841,1051,095




Note:
2003–04 and 2004–05 figures are from LSC audited accounts. 2005–06 figures are latest LSC allocations.




The Minimum Training Allowance (MTA) is £40 per week and is paid to unwaged trainees. The LSC has responsibility for the MTA and holds the information about the detailed expenditure on the MTA for unwaged trainees. Mark Haysom, the Council's Chief Executive, has written to the hon. Member with the information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 14 February 2006:

Transferable Content Procurement

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she has taken to establish a demand aggregation and content panel in respect of the procurement of transferable content development; and what the costs of such a panel have been. [52097]

Phil Hope: No steps have been taken to establish a demand aggregation and content panel in respect of the procurement of transferable content development. No costs have therefore been incurred in respect of such a panel.
 
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Becta (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) has a wide remit to improve the procurement and value for money of technology related products and services. It works with stakeholders in the educational, heritage and museum sectors to make it easier to find and re-use or share content between sectors, and help lower costs.

In the further education and higher education sectors JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) has worked for many years on the provision of aggregated arrangements for content and software and have invested in projects to establish repositories and tools which can be used across the sector.

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she has taken to unify procurement of transferable content development; and what savings have been made as a consequence. [52098]

Phil Hope: JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) has demonstrated considerable savings through the systems put in place to procure content for higher education and further education institutions. As a result of this success, JISC is setting up a procurement company to grow this approach, including for other education sectors.

JISC negotiates a wide range of agreements for online resources. Some of these agreements are licences for datasets which are continually updated. Here the JISC collections team aims to achieve deeply discounted annual subscription fees for its community. These fees are banded according to institutional size and budget.

Becta (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) is collaborating with JISC to seek opportunities for unifying procurement. Further actions have been agreed to identify candidate resources for cross-sector use.

We will be measuring efficiency gains from a range of specific initiatives which contribute to our Gershon efficiency target, including making content cheaper. 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 2006.

Travellers

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her policy is on education provision for Traveller children. [50712]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 13 February 2006]: We are concerned that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are among the lowest achieving in our schools. In 2003 the Government launched a national strategy to tackle the underachievement of minority ethnic pupils. This included a range of initiatives aimed at supporting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller young people, including a national pilot project testing strategies to improve attendance and raise attainment.
 
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The findings from this pilot have informed the development of a national programme of work to support local authorities and schools with large numbers of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils to better meet their needs. This will be launched in April 2006 and follows up a commitment we made in the Schools White Paper.

Truancy

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if she will make a statement on truancy levels in schools in (a) Leicester and (b) England; [51004]

(2) how many hours of school were missed due to truancy in each academic year between 1997 and 2005 in (a) Leicester and (b) England. [51005]

Jacqui Smith: The Department does not hold data on the number of hours of school missed due to truancy. In 2005, the proportion of half day sessions missed due to unauthorised absence (of which truancy plays a part) in maintained primary schools in Leicester city was 0.70 per cent. and for maintained secondary schools 2.86 per cent. The comparative figures for England were 0.43 per cent. for primary schools and 1.23 per cent. for secondary schools. In September 2005, the Government announced a drive against pupils with high unauthorised absences in 146 secondary schools which account for one in five of all instances of unauthorised absence across the country. We have now extended this to cover 198 secondary schools and an estimated 13,000 pupils. This drive will provide an intensive package of support and challenge to these pupils and their families.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many hours of school were missed due to truancy in each academic year between 1997 and 2005 in (a) Tamworth, (b) Staffordshire and (c) England; [53422]

(2) what assessment she has made of truancy levels in schools in (a) Tamworth, (b) Staffordshire and (c) England. [53424]

Jacqui Smith: The Department does not hold data on the number of hours of school missed due to truancy or the levels of truancy. In 2005, the proportion of half day
 
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sessions missed due to unauthorised absence (of which truancy forms a part) in maintained primary schools in Tamworth constituency was 0.28 per cent. and for maintained secondary schools 1.09 per cent. For Staffordshire local authority 0.19 per cent. of half days were missed in primary schools and 0.62 per cent. in secondary schools. The comparative figures for England were 0.43 per cent. for primary schools and 1.23 per cent. for secondary schools.

In September 2005, the Government announced a drive against pupils with high unauthorised absences in 146 secondary schools which account for one in five of all instances of unauthorised absence across the country. We have now extended this to cover 198 secondary schools and an estimated 13,000 pupils. This drive will provide an intensive package of support and challenge to these pupils and their families.

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many truancy sweeps have taken place within the Peterborough local education authority in each year since 1999; how many children were stopped in that period; how many children stopped did not have a valid reason for absence; how many hours of police time were spent on such sweeps; and if she will make a statement. [50341]

Jacqui Smith: National truancy sweeps in England have been co-ordinated by the Department since December 2002. The sweeps usually take place during the autumn and spring terms. Data are collected from each local authority (LA) which participates in the national sweeps. We do not collect data on the length of time spent on the sweeps by either local authority staff or police officers.

The Government believe that truancy sweeps are an effective tool to raise the profile of school attendance in the community and help to stop those pupils who may be in the early stages of drifting into the habit of truancy. They also reinforce the message to pupils and their families that school and LAs take the issue of attendance seriously. Since nationally co-ordinated sweeps began in 2002 some 92,000 pupils have been stopped: 37,000 (nearly 40 per cent.) of them were out of school without a valid reason and 42 per cent. (almost 16,000) of those without a valid reason were with an adult.
Data for Peterborough local authority

Truancy sweepsTotal number of truancy sweepsTotal stoppedTotal stopped with no valid reason for
being out of school
Total stopped over the year with no valid reason for being out of school
Autumn 2002Not known533838
Spring 200311410
Autumn 20033291727
Spring 20042493
Autumn 20043878083
Spring 20052714646
Autumn 2005Data is being analysed

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the average number of pupils per school day who were absent without authorisation in the latest period for which an estimate is available. [52106]

Jacqui Smith: Absence from school has declined in each of the last four years and, at 6.44 per cent., is at the lowest level since records began. The figure for unauthorised absence in 2004/05 was 0.78 per cent. Applying this to the total number of pupils of
 
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compulsory school age in all schools gives the equivalent of an average of 55,000 pupils recorded as absent each day without authorisation. Unauthorised absence includes pupils who arrive late; term-time holidays taken without the school's permission; and absences where the explanation is unsatisfactory.


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