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Jacqui Smith: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is funding the modelling and trialling of options for introducing greater stretch and challenge into A-level. Trialling will begin in September 2006. The funding required to deliver revised A-level examinations will be considered as part of the evaluation of the trials. In reforming A-levels from six assessment units to four we will reduce the number of A-level exams. This reduction should lead to lower exam fees for schools and colleges.
Reforms to qualifications are aimed at benefiting all students who take them. The reforms we made to A-level as part of the Curriculum 2000 reforms helped to improve results for all A-level students. The further improvements planned for A-level as part of our 1419 reforms will benefit all those embarking on A-level programmes, including those in inner city areas.
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Aimhigher is a national programme that operates more intensively in disadvantaged areas. It aims to raise aspiration and attainment levels among young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in higher education. Evaluation indicates that it is having a positive effect on aspirations and attainment among target beneficiaries.
Ann Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the number of pupils reaching grades C and above in mathematics and English in the constituency of Brentford and Isleworth in each year since 2001. 
|Number achieving A*-C in English(27) and mathematics(28) GCSE||Percentage achieving A*-C in English(27) and mathematics(28) GCSE|
As far as the national picture is concerned, the proportion of 15-year-olds achieving A*-C grades in English and mathematics GCSE has improved by 3.6percentage points, from 41.9 per cent. in 2001 to 45.5 per cent. in 2005.
James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the value of contracts held by her Department with (a) Capita plc and (b) its subsidiaries was in the last three financial years. 
Teachers' Pensions Administration from 2003 to 2010 value estimated £60.5 million Connexions Card from 2002 to 2008 value estimated £108.8 million National Strategies 2005 to 2010 value estimated £180 million Criminal Records Bureau Checking Service 2006 to 2008 value estimated £2 million
James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many tenders (a) Capita plc and (b) its subsidiaries have submitted to her Department in each of the last three years; and how many tenders were successful. 
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much business her Department has placed with (a) Capita Group plc and (b) its subsidiaries in each of the last five years; what the total value is of outstanding contracts placed with Capita Group plc and its subsidiaries by her Department; for which current tenders issued by her Department (i) Capita Group plc and (ii) its subsidiaries have been invited to bid; and whether (A) Capita Group plc and (B) its subsidiaries have seconded staff (1)temporarily and (2) on a longer-term basis to (X) her Department and (Y) its agencies. 
Bill Rammell: Information on how much business the Department has placed with Capita Group and its subsidiaries in each of the last five years could be supplied only at disproportionate cost. Comprehensive information on what the total value is of outstanding contracts placed with Capita Group and its subsidiaries could be supplied only at disproportionate cost as the Department does not maintain a central record of all contracts. I can tell the hon. Member, however, from the records that the Department holds on Capita and its subsidiaries the following information on outstanding or current contracts:
The Ofsted report of March 2006, rated the Academy's overall effectiveness as satisfactory, with many strengths and also showing a significant improvement since it opened in 2003. The Department will continue to work closely with the Academy to support it in raising standards by building on the strategies already in place to provide the best possible education for its students.
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Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills under what circumstances (a) a local authority, (b) an agency acting on its behalf and (c) another statutory organisation can be involved in the placement of a child with family members or friends without the child becoming a looked after child. 
Parents may make private arrangements for their child to be cared for by another adult, without the child becoming looked after, in the meaning of the terms of the Children Act 1989. Such placements may be facilitated by the local authority, the police or another organisation where appropriate. For example, a local authority might organise and support a family group conference at which it is decided that a child should live with another member of the family or the police might transport children to a relative at the request of a parent, after the parent has been imprisoned or incapacitated. In some circumstances, the local authority may assist family and friends carers with seeking a residence order, where its assessment causes it to form the view that such a step is in the best interests of the child.
Carers of children, who are not looked after, are not required to be in contact with their local authority, unless they fall within the definition of private foster carers. Where they are private foster carers, they are required to notify the relevant local authority. It has a range of duties designed to check the suitability of the carer and protect the welfare of the child.
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