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Bishop Wulstan Catholic School

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures the Bishop Wulstan Catholic School in Warwickshire is taking to raise its standards; and if she will make a statement. [59743]

Jacqui Smith: The Local Authority is in discussion with DfES officials about how best to improve educational outcomes for pupils at Bishop Wulstan School in both the short and medium term. However, discussions are still ongoing and no decisions have yet been taken.

Building Schools for the Future

John Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she expects to reply to the letter of 8 February 2006 on building schools for the future in County Durham from the hon. Member for Easington. [55823]

Jacqui Smith: I responded to the hon. Member's letter on 13 March.


Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on her Department's plans to combat bullying in educational establishments. [59824]

Jacqui Smith: This Government have given an unprecedented high profile to tackling bullying and supporting those who have been bullied. Since 1999 it has been compulsory for every school to have an anti-bullying policy in place which details how the school will tackle bullying. Our anti-bullying work, including the anti-bullying Charter for Action, takes an integrated approach to preventing bullying, to addressing causes of bullying—for example prejudice—and to helping those who are bullied.

As recommended by the Practitioners Group on Behaviour and Discipline, the recent White Paper committed the Department to producing specific guidance for schools on prejudice driven bullying. At the beginning of this month, we launched our new advice 'Bullying around racism, religion and culture; how to prevent it and what to do when it happens' as the first of this suite of materials. The advice is presented as a set of interactive web pages on the teachernet website and is being supported by a national programme of dissemination events. Feedback from schools and local authorities so far has been overwhelmingly positive. We will be following this with specific advice on countering homophobic bullying later in 2006.
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We have secured a very broad consensus, with all the teaching professional associations and the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) signing up to our Anti-Bullying Charter for Action. The Charter is a voluntary commitment to creating a school community where bullying is not tolerated. In 2006 we plan to share examples of where the Charter has been particularly well implemented with other schools so that they can learn from this best practice.

Through our work with the ABA, an organisation comprising over 65 leading anti-bullying charities and experts, we provide schools and local authorities with expert help to tackle bullying. The National Strategies' behaviour materials provide schools with support in reducing and responding to bullying.

We have put more adults than ever in our schools—teachers, classroom assistants, learning mentors, Connexions personal advisers, Behaviour and Education Support Teams and police officers—so that a wide range of people are available to help prevent and tackle bullying.

Anti-bullying week continues to be a successful event with a large number of schools taking part in November 2005's activities through a wide variety of national and local events. There was a considerable amount of positive press coverage and this year over 325,000 anti-bullying wristbands were distributed.

Our anti-bullying resource pack for schools Bullying: Don't Suffer in Silence", updated in 2000 and September 2002 will be revised and re-issued in the summer term 2006 to ensure schools have the most up-to-date information available on tackling bullying.

In addition the Department has recently launched the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) curriculum resource—an intervention to develop children's social, emotional and behavioural skills from Foundation Stage to Year 6. It is available to all primary schools and the evidence from the pilot suggests that it helps reduce bullying and promotes positive behaviour generally. It is an important arm of the Department's longer term policy to promote positive behaviour and attendance. The Department is hoping to build on the work carried out in primary schools by providing a similar whole school curriculum based resource for secondary schools (SEBS). At present the programme is in a very early pilot stage.

Communicable Diseases

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department (a) has taken and (b) is taking to raise awareness of communicable diseases in higher education establishments, with particular reference to meningitis; how many students have (i) contracted and (ii) died of meningitis since 1997; and if she will make a statement. [59829]

Bill Rammell: This Department works in partnership with higher education sector bodies, such as Universities UK (UUK) and the Standing Conference of Principals (SCOP) to give guidance and raise awareness of particular issues that affect the sector.
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In response to publicity and concerns about recurring cases of meningococcal disease at higher education institutions, UUK published revised guidance on managing the disease in July 2004. Organisations such as the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the Public Health Medicine Environment Group were involved in drawing up the guidance. The guidance helps institutions and health protection units prepare for meningitis or septicaemia and indicates the action they should take following a case or outbreak.

The HPA collects data on the number of cases and deaths from meningococcal disease in higher education students. UUK's guidance gives HPA figures from 1999 to 2002. These are set out in the following table:
Number of deaths of students
from meningitis(8)
Number of cases of students with meningitis(8)NumberPercentage

(8)In higher education institutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Drinking Water (Schools)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what assessment she has made of the merits of installing water coolers in all schools to improve pupils' access to free, fresh drinking water during the school day; [60440]

(2) what steps she is taking to encourage water consumption by pupils during the school day. [60441]

Jacqui Smith: We are aware of the importance of children drinking water during the school day and the benefits that it brings. The interactive Food in Schools Toolkit, published jointly by the Department of Health and DfES, provides a wide range of guidance, resources and interactive tools to inspire and support schools in taking a whole school approach to healthy eating anddrinking, including water provision. The 'Water Provision' guidance supports schools in reviewing and improving current provision and promoting water consumption.

The Cross Departmental Healthy Living Blueprint", issued to all schools, brings together all government advice and examples of best practice about healthy eating and drinking in schools. It provides schools with advice on how to improve children's approach to food and drink and exercise, and shows how developing whole school approaches can help bring about significant improvements to the health of children.

Healthy School Lunches guidance, published by the DfES, contains the Secretary of State's expectation that drinking water should be available to all pupils every day, free of charge. This view is mirrored in the 'Healthy Living Blueprint for Schools', which states that,

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The School Meals Review Panel (SMRP) made a reference to drinking water in recommendation 7 of their report—Turning the Tables: There should be easy access to free, fresh, chilled drinking water throughout the school day (paragraph 2.32)". The consultation closed on 31 December 2005 and the responses are being analysed.

It is the responsibility of head teachers and school's governing bodies to decide how and when water should be made available. We consider that they are best placed to make these decisions in their role of having responsibility of the day to day running of the school and with their knowledge of the individual circumstances of their pupils.

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