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4 May 2006 : Column 1763W—continued

Service Children's Education

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of key stage 3 pupils from service children's education schools achieved levels (a) 3, (b) 4, (c) 5, (d) 6, (e) 7 and (f) 8 in (i) English, (ii) mathematics and (iii) science during the academic year 2004–05. [65439]

Jacqui Smith: The requested information is shown as follows:
Percentage of pupils achieving:

(12)The total includes absent pupils (A), pupil below the level assessed by the test (B) and pupils not awarded a test level (N). This analysis is based on approximately 500 pupils who sat the 2005 KS3 tests.

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Sexual Acitivity (Under-16s)

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will estimate the number of individuals under the age of 16 years who were sexually active in each of the last five years. [66909]

Beverley Hughes: We estimate that between a quarter and a third of young people have sex before age 16. This estimate is based on figures from NATSAL 2000 (National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles), which showed that 30 per cent. of boys and 26 per cent. of girls had sex under-16 and the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Evaluation Tracking Survey for each year between 2000 and 2004, which shows on average 27 per cent. of boys and 29 per cent. of girls have had sex before age 16. The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Evaluation Tracking Survey reports no change in the proportion of young people having sex before age 16 over the first 4 years of the strategy.

Specialist Schools

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many specialist schools there are in England, broken down by specialism; and how many of such schools are electing to select up to 10 per cent. of their intake by aptitude. [67276]

Jacqui Smith: There are currently 2502 designated specialist schools (2378 operational): 408 Arts; 217 Business and Enterprise; 47 Engineering; 72 Humanities; 216 Languages; 222 Maths and Computing; 18 Music; 282 Science; 345 Sports; 583 Technology; 80 Combined and 12 with a Special Educational Needs (SEN) specialism.

Specialist schools are bound by the school admissions code of practice. Relatively few specialist schools select by aptitude, our figures suggest that 45 schools or 6.5 per cent. of schools that were specialist in summer 2001 did so.

Teacher Selection

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action her Department takes to prevent advocates of terrorism obtaining positions as teachers. [66060]

Jacqui Smith: While the ultimate responsibility for considering the professional suitability of recruits lies with the individual governing bodies and with the local authorities as the employers of teachers, the Department plays a key role in supporting them in this process. We have provided comprehensive guidance highlighting the importance of thorough checks on anybody who will be working in schools, emphasising the need for governing bodies and local authorities to employ appropriate rigour in ensuring unsuitable people cannot obtain positions in our schools.

All initial teacher training providers are required to interview applicants for teacher training, enabling them to explore their personal qualities and potential to meet the professional values and practices of those aspiring to teach. These values include respect for other people, a positive attitude towards learning, respect for cultural diversity and social responsibility.
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The Terrorism Act which gained royal assent on 30 March makes it an offence to 'encourage terrorism' and we have made it clear in successive guidance that CRB checks are strongly recommended as part of the appointment process on anybody who will be working in schools. In addition, the Secretary of State recently announced that existing arrangements will become compulsory for schools through proposed amendments to regulations to be made under sections 35 and 36 of the Education Act 2002 (and section 72 of the School Standards and Framework Act (SSFA) 1998)—this will affect amendments to the current School Staffing (England) Regulations 2003 and will make an 'on appointment' CRB check compulsory for all new appointments to the schools workforce.

We place great trust in the professionalism and dedication of teachers and the wider school workforce and expect that they will leave personal prejudices at home. Where we find that teachers have not behaved professionally the General Teaching Council (GTC) has the necessary power to remove those teachers from schools. Through their Statement of Professional Values and Practices and their Code of Conduct and Practice for registered teachers they have the means to ensure that a person espousing support for terrorism could be prevented from entering the profession or, if already a registered teacher, called before a disciplinary hearing. The sanctions available to the GTC include prohibition from practice as a registered teacher.

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what restrictions there are on individuals who have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment obtaining employment as teachers. [66061]

Maria Eagle: A decision by an educational establishment on whether or not to appoint an individual into its workforce should take into account, in addition to a list 99 check, the standard previous employers' references, qualifications check and (in the case of teachers) General Teaching Council for England registration, as well as a criminal records check from the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

Individuals who have been convicted of certain offences will be automatically barred from working with children in an education setting, under the Department's list 99. In other cases, the Secretary of State, taking advice from Sir Roger Singleton's expert panel, may decide to bar an individual convicted of other offences, even if those offences do not result in an automatic bar.

Where an individual is not barred from working with children in an education setting, and following receipt of the CRB disclosure, an offer of employment is at the discretion of the employer. The Department cannot advise employers whether or not they should employ a particular person but in deciding the relevance of convictions current guidance 1 states a number of points should be considered:

The nature of the offence

In general, convictions for sexual, violent or drug offences will be particularly strong contra-indications for work with children.
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The nature of the appointment

Often the nature of the appointment will help to assess the relevance of the conviction. For example, serious sexual, violent, drug or drink offences would give rise to particular concern where a position was one of providing care. Driving or drink offences would be relevant in situations involving transport of children.

The age of the offence

Offences which took place many years in the past may often have less relevance than recent offences. However, convictions for serious violent or sexual offences or serious offences involving substance abuse are more likely to give cause for continuing concern than, for instance, an isolated case of dishonesty committed when the person was young. The potential for rehabilitation must be weighed against the need to protect children.

The frequency of the offence

A series of offences over a period of time is more likely to give cause for concern than an isolated minor conviction.

The CRB has also produced guidance for employers on judging the suitability of applicants.

Teachernet Website

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many hits the teachernet website received in each month of the last two years. [67275]

Bill Rammell: The Department has reduced the number of websites for schools over the last 2 years. It now manages just three main portals (TeacherNet, GovernorNet and the Standards Site) which contain important information and resources for members of the schools workforce. Extensive work is currently being undertaken to rationalise and migrate these three portals into a single new online service. This is due to be fully completed in mid-2007.

The following table shows the number of hits received by the TeacherNet website each month for the last two years.
March 200637,363,271March 2005
February 200631,494,483February 2005
January 200637,241,118January 2005
December 200524,060,325December 2004
November 200535,312,527November 2004
October 200534,060,109October 2004
September 200531,632,303September 2004
August 200517,024,394August 2004
July 200523,128,655July 2004
June 200527,427,281June 2004
May 200528,573,698May 2004
April 200528,382,229April 2004

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