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24 Apr 2006 : Column 947W—continued

Liverpool Learning Service

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on (a) the finances of and (b) the redundancy programme announced at the Liverpool Learning Service. [65403]

Phil Hope: The responsibility for the finances and staffing of the Liverpool Adult Learning Service rests with Liverpool City Council. Overall we have made clear in the White Paper, Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances" that our priorities for the funding of adult learning are high quality learning opportunities targeted at those who need help most—adults without effective literacy and numeracy or without the employability skills embodied in a first full Level 2 qualification. It is the responsibility of the Learning and Skills Council to meet these national priorities in the light of local needs, ensuring that it only contracts for good quality provision.
 
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Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities Fund

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research her Department has undertaken into the social profile of people accessing learning provided through the Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities Fund. [65433]

Phil Hope: Although there is no specific research on the social profile of people accessing learning provided through the Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities (NLDC), by its very nature money is targeted at the poorest neighbourhoods in the country to reduce worklessness and crime and to improve the health, housing and physical environment of local residents. It is an important part of a suite of programmes designed to support successful regeneration. In 2004/5 the NLDC funded 30,000 new learners on programmes including 13,000 helped into Skills for Life provision.

Pupil Referral Units

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of pupil referral units; and if she will make a statement. [64485]

Jacqui Smith: Evidence on the effectiveness of pupil referral units is available, as for other schools, from inspections undertaken by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). The latest Ofsted Annual Report, published in October 2005, found that 25 of the 38 pupil referral units inspected in 2004/05, 25 were good or better, providing effectively for the young people they serve. Of the remaining 13 units, 10 were found to be satisfactory and three were unsatisfactory. Ofsted also found that the quality of teaching was good or better in 29 of the units, and unsatisfactory in only one, that the units generally provided a curriculum that meets the particular needs of their pupils, and that the quality of accommodation in units continues to improve. Subject to parliamentary assent, the measures within the Education and Inspections Bill will require local authorities to take faster and more decisive action to turn round schools in special measures or requiring significant improvement. These expectations will also apply to pupil referral units which fail an Ofsted inspection.

We are also undertaking research on alternative provision generally which will identify examples of good practice which we will disseminate.

School Exclusions

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many pupils have left school due to permanent exclusion in West Lancashire constituency since 1997. [64326]

Jacqui Smith: The number of permanent exclusions from maintained primary and secondary schools in West Lancashire constituency from 1996/97 to 2003/04 is given in the table.

Figures for the number of permanent exclusions during 2004/05 academic year should be available in June 2006.
 
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Maintained Primary and Secondary Schools: Number of Permanent Exclusions 1996/97 to 2003/04West Lancashire Parliamentary Constituency

Number of permanent exclusions
Primary
Secondary
Number (35)PercentageNumber (35)Percentage
1996/9740.04130.21
1997/98(36)(36)130.21
1998/99(36)(36)150.24
1999/2000(36)(36)110.17
2000/01(37)(36)(36)130.21
2001/02(37)30.03190.30
2002/03(37)00.00230.37
2003/04(37)(36)(36)200.32


(35)The number of exclusions expressed as a percentage of the total number of pupils on the school roll in January of the same school year. Excludes dually registered pupils.
(36)1 or 2 exclusions, or a rate based on 1 or 2 exclusions.
(37)There are known quality issues with exclusions data for these years. Figures shown here are as reported by schools but are unconfirmed and should be used with caution.
Source: Annual Schools Census.



Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the effect on schools which lose funding when children are excluded; and if she will make a statement. [64486]

Jacqui Smith: We have made no specific assessment of the effect on schools of losing funds when children are permanently excluded. The principle is well established that funding must follow a permanently excluded pupil to their new education provider to ensure that the pupil's education continues. The amount that transfers from the school is calculated according to a formula which is set out in regulations. Local authorities, however, may deduct an additional amount in accordance with discretionary arrangements made under their local funding formula. The Department does not control these local arrangements. The total amount that a school loses will depend on the factors included in any funding formulae and the date in the financial year when the exclusion takes effect.

Specialist Schools

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many specialist schools there were in (a) England and (b) Taunton constituency in each year since 1997. [64350]

Jacqui Smith: The following table shows the number of schools there were in (a) England and (b) Taunton constituency in each year between 1997 and March 2006.
Operational dateEnglandTaunton
Pre 19971490
19972231
19983063
19993833
20005194
20016704
20029774
20031,4407
20041,9497
20052,3797
20062,5027









 
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All of the maintained secondary schools in Taunton constituency have achieved specialist school status.

Student Finance

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average debt incurred by students on leaving university was in the last year for which figures are available; what the average time taken to pay off the debt has been to date; and what assessment she has made of the impact of the student loan scheme on the application for university places from children from working-class homes. [62313]

Bill Rammell: In 2005–06, the average amount of publicly-owned student loan debt in the UK on reaching statutory repayment due date (SRDD) was £8,350. Borrowers reach SRDD in the April following graduation or otherwise leaving their course.

The latest Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2004/05, which covered full-time and part-time undergraduate students in higher education institutions in England and Wales, found that full-time final year students' average anticipated total debt on graduation was £7,918 in 2004/05. Debt in this instance is defined as total borrowings offset with total savings. Borrowing included student loans, overdrafts, credit cards, commercial loans and informal loans.

The average time to repay a mortgage style loan (primarily loans taken out before 1998), for all those who have fully repaid to date, is five years (figure to nearest whole year). This is based on the time taken from a student reaching their SRDD until the loan account is fully repaid. Customers who repay early before reaching their SRDD have, for the purposes of the analysis, been treated as having a repayment time of zero.

It is too early in the scheme to provide a meaningful average for the time taken to repay an income contingent loan, as this scheme is relatively new and only 2 per cent. of these loan borrowers have repaid their loan in full to date.

No specific assessment has been made of the impact solely of the student loan scheme on the application for university places by children from working class homes. However, the following table shows that the proportion of entrants from the lower socio-economic groups has increased steadily over time, a trend which continued during the period when tuition fees and income contingent loans were introduced.
Proportion of young (under 21) UK domiciled entrants to full-time first degree courses at UK HEIs

Proportion of entrants to higher education from:
State schoolsLower social classes (IIIM, IV, V)Lower socio-economic groups (4–7)Low participation areas
1997/9881.824.9n/a12.1
1998/9985.025.1n/a12.3
1999/200084.925.3n/a12.4
2000/0185.725.4n/a12.5
2001/0286.025.8n/a13.1
2002/0387.2n/a28.413.3
2003/0486.8n/a28.613.9




n/a=Not available.
Note:
The socio-economic group classification was introduced in 2002/03 to replace the social class groupings. The two classifications are not directly comparable.
Source:
Performance Indicators in Higher Education.




 
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Repayment of income contingent loans is linked to income after leaving university or college so that leavers only repay as and when they can afford to do so, and not until income is over £15,000 per year. Under the new system from 2006/07, students from low-income backgrounds will be entitled to a maintenance grant of up to £2,700 per year, and an institutional bursary of at least £300.


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