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Maria Eagle: In July 2004 the Department of Education and Skills issued good practice guidance for local authorities to use to help them identify children missing education: Identifying and maintaining contact with children missing, or at risk of going missing, from education". The local authority teams responsible for identifying children missing education are expected to work with their colleagues in children's social care services, and other local partners, to ensure that practitioners notify them of any children they identify as missing education.
Additionally, we are currently revising the guidance for agencies on safeguarding children: Working together to safeguard children: a guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children". The revised guidance will make it clear that social care workers and other practitioners working with children should inform their nominated local authority contact on children missing education if they know or suspect that a child is not receiving education.
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It also signposts the good practice guidance on children missing education, as an aid for local agencies and professionals, including social workers.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether her Department is on target to meet the 2004 spending review target to reduce the number of its civil service posts to 1,960 by 200708. 
Maria Eagle: The Department is committed to achieving a total of 1,460 staff reductions by end March 2008 in response to the 2004 spending review; in addition the Office for Standards in Education has a target to reduce by 500 staff by the same date.
(a) The Department is on target to achieve these reductions. It set an interim target to reduce by 850 posts against the October 2003 baseline by end March 2006. At 1 March 2006 the reductions totalled 883 posts.
(b) The Office for Standards in Education has already met its target of 500 reductions. Its full time equivalent staffing total as at 31 December 2005 was 2,280 against a baseline of 2,814, a reduction of 534 posts.
Ruth Kelly: Policy on the portability of Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks is primarily a matter for the CRB itself. My Department will, however, be consulting later this year on revised guidance to schools and local authorities on vetting and recruitment, and portability of CRB checks will be a relevant issue.
The Department's anti bullying pack for schools Don't Suffer in Silence", gives advice on approaches to combating all forms of bullying, including online and bullying by text message. We are currently reviewing this guidance to see if it needs strengthening and to ensure that schools have the most up-to-date information available.
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|Law by topic||18,573||11,594||30,167|
|History by period||12,044||12,647||24,690|
|Others in subjects allied to medicine||13,266||4,023||17,289|
|Electronic & electrical engineering||1,845||14,574||16,419|
|Law by area||10,023||6,312||16,335|
|Academic studies in education||10,809||1,515||12,325|
Bill Rammell: The information requested is not held centrally. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) does set targets for student places for individual institutions, however, these are set for the whole institution across all years of study including post-graduate places not just for new entrants. Information is not collected centrally on how many places remain unfilled after students drop-out. However, the completion rate within UK Higher Education Institutions is currently 85 per cent. which is a higher rate than most other countries and shows an decrease in the number of drop-outs since 1997.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her Department's target is
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for paying invoices to contractors; and what percentage of bills were paid on time in the last period for which figures are available. 
Bill Rammell: Provided that the goods or services have been satisfactorily supplied as ordered and invoices are undisputed the Department for Education and Skills target for paying invoices to contractors is within 30 days of receipt, unless other terms have been greed. In the financial year 200405 96 per cent. of all invoices (and claims) were paid within the 30 days or the agreed terms.
|Students starting courses in:||Non-completion rate (percentage)|
Figures published in 2005 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that in 2003 the UK had one of the lowest higher education non-completion rates among OECD countries.
This progress has been possible for a number of reasons. Since 2000, we have been putting funding into universities, via the Widening Participation Allocation managed by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE), to help universities cover the additional costs of recruiting and retaining non-traditional students. In 200607, a total of £344 million will be allocated to institutions to support their Widening Participation activity, which includes increased funding of £236.6 million to improve student retention. This funding will be used for a variety of activities including: supporting the transition of students into HE, study skills and learner support and activities to enhance the quality of teaching and learning, all of which help to maximise their chance of success.
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We have made major investments in teaching and learning overall. These include the establishment of 74 Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning spread across universities and colleges to establish and spread best practice on learning and teaching. In addition, we are continuing to invest in the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund, through which HEFCE will allocate £158.5 million over the next three years to promote continuous improvement in leaning and teaching, including a priority focus on supporting the success and progression for students with diverse needs.
Through the Teaching Quality Information site established by HEFCE, applicants are now able to access a wide range of information about the quality of teaching including the views of studentsat subject and institutional level, informing their choice of institution and course.
Our improved student finance package from 2006/07, including income assessed maintenance grants of up to £2,700, together with generous bursaries which HE institutions are offering will also assist retention.
Underpinning all of this, we are continuing to invest in research and evaluation to ensure that we understand how best to improve student retention. For example, via HEFCE, we have provided £2 million to fund an ESRC programme, within their Teaching and Learning Research Programme, which includes projects which will examine the student experience and the factors that influence their success.
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