|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what meetings (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department have held with directors and senior executives of (i) Capita Group plc. an (ii) its subsidiaries since 1 January 2004; and whether (A) Capita Group plc. and (B) its subsidiaries have provided input (1) in writing and (2) in person to policy discussions in his Department since 1 January 2004. 
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) when she will answer the letter to her dated 8 March from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Dr. D. Ziegeler; 
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he will reply to the letter to his predecessor dated 20 March 2006 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Debbie Burton. 
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the 10 non-public sector entities that have received the largest total sum of payments from his Department in each of the last five years. 
Alan Johnson: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The payments system used by the Department for Education and Skills does not currently hold sufficient detail about the nature of its suppliers to be able to easily and accurately collect this information.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he will answer the letter to his predecessor dated 4 April from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Mrs. J. Watson. 
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the level of administration required to implement the provisions of the Education and Inspections Bill. 
Jim Knight: The Education and Inspections Bill is generally deregulatory in nature, providing a legislative framework to establish a new relationship between government, local authorities and schools. However, there are additional costs for some elements of the Bill. These are set out in the Bill's Regulatory Impact Assessment which is available on the Department's website at:
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations he has received from hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies on the Education and Inspections Bill. 
The faith character of trust schools;
Whether the Bill has implications for the Barnett formula; and
A request for a response to the National Union of Teachers' leaflet about the Bill.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what system of inspections he will put in place to ensure the maintenance of nutritional standards in schools following introduction of the measures proposed in the Education and Inspections Bill; 
(2) what estimate his Department has made of the likely costs of the nutritional school meals proposed in the Education and Inspections Bill; and what assessment he has made of the impact of the proposals for the costs of school meals to (a) schools, (b) local education authorities and (c) parents. 
Jim Knight: The responsibility for ensuring that the nutritional standards are being met will rest with either the local authority or the school governing body, depending on the model of provision. Ofsted are already inspecting schools general approach to healthy eating as part of the new inspection framework for schools. They have also already carried out, alongside nutritionists, a pilot thematic study in three local authorities, looking at the standard of food provided in a sample of schools. A further larger-scale thematic study is planned for next year.
We have published a full Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) which considers the financial impact that the new nutritional standards will have. In compiling the RIA, account was taken of the report written for the School Meals Review Panel (SMRP) by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the costs of implementing the Caroline Walker Trust's recommendations, which are closely mirrored by the recommendations of the SMRP.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate his Department has made of the likely costs of the free transport provisions of the Education and Inspections Bill. 
Jim Knight: The Education and Inspections Bill includes provisions that place a general duty on local authorities to promote sustainable school travel and extend the entitlement to free home to school transport for low income families. It will also enable a small number of local authorities to run Pathfinder schemes which will include innovative arrangements supporting school choice; and increase the proportion of pupils travelling by sustainable means.
In 2004/05 local authorities in England spent £772 million on free and assisted home to school transport. This will be supplemented by £4 million per annum to fund the new general duty to promote sustainable travel; £40 million per annum to extend the entitlement to free transport to low income families, and £12 million per annum to support Pathfinder schemes.
Jim Knight: There is extensive guidance available for schools to improve their energy efficiency on the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) webpages(1) including the Department's Energy and Water Management Guide. The DfES launched a consultation on its framework for sustainable schools on 15 May. The framework promotes eight doorways to sustainability for schools, one of which is energy and water. The framework promotes a whole school approach to water and energy management in schools. A comprehensive website which will go live on 9 June this year combining management tools with curriculum resources for all of the eight sustainability themes(2). The Energy Certification Scheme for Schools(3) and the Carbon Trusts programmes(4 )also provide advice and assistance to schools.
(1) www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/sd/focuson/energy/energy management/
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what representations his Department has received regarding the effects of educational field courses on the academic performance of pupils; 
Jim Knight: The Department works closely with organisations such as the Field Studies Council (FSC), National Association of Field Study Officers (NAFSO), Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Geographical Association and Association for Science Education on field work in schools including its contribution to improving academic performance. As part of the emerging Education Outside the Classroom Manifesto, a group of leading organisations from the fieldwork sector (including those listed above) submitted a report to the Department on the benefits of fieldwork and recommendations to promote and support field studies in schools.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the costs were of (a) closing training and enterprise councils, (b) the creation of learning and skills councils and (c) the merging of learning and skills councils. 
Bill Rammell: The Learning and Skills Council was established in 2001 to replace the 72 Training and Enterprise Councils and the Further Education Funding Council. It was estimated that this would result in savings of some £50 million per annum. These savings have been realised and a significant proportion has been reinvested in better training in local areas.
Building on this, the Learning and Skills Council is currently undertaking a second major restructuring exercise which will further streamline the organisation and strengthen its capacity to work strategically with partners at local and regional level. This will involve the merger of some local offices, and the LSC estimates that, once completed, the restructuring will release up to £40 million per annum nationally.
The national costs incurred to date in (a) closing the Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) and (b) creating the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) are £83 million. TECs, which were independent local companies, will also have incurred some local costs connected with the ending of the TEC network, but we do not have details of the amounts involved. Although the majority of TECs have now been formally wound up, there will be some additional costs involved in winding up those remaining. It is not possible to disaggregate the costs associated with (a) and (b).
Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what plans he has to extend access to personal online learning space as outlined in the Schools White Paper to the further and higher education sectors; 
Phil Hope: The Department is working closely with Becta, JISC and other stakeholders to establish the extent to which the approach to providing access to a personal online learning space in schools can be shared with further and higher education, and what can be learned from these sectors' experience with learning platforms by schools.
DfES will provide funding to local authorities in 2006-07 and 2007-08 to provide access to a personalised online learning space (through a learning platform) for all their schools by 2008. Our expectation is that local authorities will use the expertise of Regional Broadband Consortia to make best use of the funding (for example, through aggregated procurement) and to make sure that
schools' needs are met effectively. Guidance has been made available to local authorities and schools to allow them to plan and meet their requirements in time to meet the 2008 personal online space target. Becta is procuring a national framework (with preferred suppliers), which will help purchasers to select appropriate learning platforms. This framework will be available to all educational institutions from January 2007.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many complaints his Department has received about the operation of private finance initiative contracts in schools over the last 12 months. 
Jim Knight: I do not have a tally of the number of complaints which the Department has received about private finance initiative contracts, but I will write shortly to the hon. Lady with this information. We have been working consistently to improve the delivery of operational private finance initiative contracts in response to problems that have been brought to our attention. We have, for instance, provided additional support directly and through Partnerships UK for those schools and authorities which had contracts with Jarvis plc., and where there were undoubtedly exceptional problems because of the financial difficulties of that firm.
Ensuring satisfactory delivery of the services included in a private finance initiative contract is the responsibility of the authority which is signatory to the contract. However, the Department is always happy to advise and support where there are individual problems that cannot be resolved locally. It also continues to work with Her Majestys Treasury and with other Departments to improve the delivery of public services through private finance initiatives. This is done by a process of continuous improvement of the contracts, and also by providing additional support through the recently formed Operational Task Force. This will support and intervene on wider structural issues like benchmarking, market testing, payment mechanisms and variations.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether his Department has undertaken a study to evaluate the amount of (a) time and (b) money spent by schools and local education authorities on the administration of private finance initiative contracts. 
This shows that overall the schools and authorities surveyed are satisfied with the services which are delivered through their private finance initiative contracts. However, it also reports some areas for improvement, and makes a series of recommendations which the Department accepts and is acting upon.
One area for improvement is the high level of resources some schools and authorities have to devote to maintaining their contracts. In March, Her Majesty's Treasury published "PFI: Strengthening Long-term Partnerships", which supported our own findings. Among its recommendations are that authorities should plan to give a proper level of resources to operational contacts. It also announced the formation of a PFI Operational Taskforce with cross-government backing, including from the Department, to provide greater support to projects that are already operational.
The Department will continue to work with Her Majesty's Treasury and with authorities and schools, directly and through Partnerships UK, to support them and ensure that schools benefit as intended from their private finance initiative contracts.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether his Department has undertaken a study to assess the compliance of private finance initiative contractors with the terms of their contracts. 
Jim Knight: All private finance initiative contracts include mechanisms for ensuring that the private sector partner delivers the services which are contracted, with financial penalties imposed where this does not happen. Contracts are made between individual authorities and the private sector partners, and the Department does not monitor them.
In autumn 2004, the Department published a "Post-signature Review" of schools private finance initiative projects which it had commissioned from Partnerships UK. This showed that overall there was satisfaction with the quality of buildings and services delivered by the operational contracts at the schools and authorities surveyed, but it also highlighted some areas where improvement could be made, and made a series of recommendations which the Department accepted and has acted on. Many of the lessons which this survey highlighted had already been included in more recent contracts. This survey is available through:
These findings were also borne out in a further study which Her Majesty's Treasury published at the time of this year's Budget, "PR: Strengthening the Long-term Partnerships". This paper included setting up an Operational Task Force to support and intervene where there are major issues.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the quality of the buildings being constructed under a private finance initiative contract at Cumberland School in the London borough of Newham. 
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|