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25 July 2006 : Column 1460W—continued

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what the pupil-teacher ratio was in primary schools in Swindon in each year since 1997; [86634]

(2) what the pupil-teacher ratio was in secondary schools in Swindon in each year between 1997 and 2006. [86968]

Jim Knight: The following table provides the pupil-teacher ratio in maintained primary and secondary schools in Swindon local authority in each January from 1997 to 2005 (the latest year for which information is available at local authority level). Information for England from 1997 to 2006 is also given to enable comparison.

It is anticipated that local authority level information for January 2006 will be published in September.

Pupil-teacher ratios( 1) in maintained primary and secondary schools in Swindon local authority and England, January 1997 to 2006
Primary Secondary
Swindon England Swindon England



















































(1) The pupil-teacher ratio is the full-time equivalent number of pupils divided by the full-time equivalent number of qualified teachers. Dually registered pupils are excluded.
(2) Swindon local authority was created in the local government reorganisation of 1.4.97.
(3) Provisional.
Annual School Census

Recycling in Schools

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what targets he has set for school recycling; [86458]

(2) how much school waste was recycled in each of the last 10 years; and what plans he has to encourage schools to increase their recycling of waste; [86459]

(3) what discussions he has had with private companies on the promotion of school recycling initiatives and environmental awareness campaigns; [86460]

(4) how much school waste has been recycled by private companies in the last 10 years; [86461]

(5) what discussions he has had with European Governments on the recycling of school waste. [86464]

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Mr. Dhanda: Central Government have not set any specific recycling targets for schools. There are targets for local authority recycling of household waste which does not include waste from schools. We do not know how much school waste has been recycled in the last 10 years.

As part of the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) proposed Sustainable Schools Strategy we encourage schools to recycle their waste. In May we launched the Sustainable Schools Consultation introducing the national framework(1). The consultation describes eight key doorways that schools can work towards to become more Sustainable one of which is “purchasing and waste”. By 2020 our aim is for all schools to be models of resource efficiency, recycling, repairing and reusing as much as possible. We are also working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who are promoting recycling in schools through funding of the Eco-Schools Award Scheme, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and various projects funded through the Environment Action Fund.

DfES has discussed school recycling and environmental awareness campaigns with waste management companies, in particular regarding projects which were supported by the former landfill tax credit scheme which operated up until 2004.

DfES has not had discussions with European Governments on the recycling of school waste.

Religious Schools/Studies

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he plans to take to ensure the preservation of the ethos of religious schools when the provisions in the Education and Inspections Act 2006 which replace external advisers appointed by a school’s governing body with a schools improvement inspector appointed by the local authority come into force. [88598]

Jim Knight: We are introducing school improvement partners (SIPs) to support the accountability that local authorities have for the standards and levels of attainment in their schools. When local authorities appoint SIPs to schools we expect them to pay attention to the preferences, needs and characteristics, including religious characteristics, of individual schools and their governing bodies, and we expect SIPs to be responsive to the individual circumstances and characteristics of the schools they work with, including their religious characteristics. The national assessment for people seeking accreditation to be SIPs stresses this expectation. It is designed to withhold accreditation from anybody who might work with a school without taking account of the ethos and other features of the school. These expectations are set out clearly for local authorities and SIPs to support introduction of the SIP programme.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures his Department takes to ensure that private schools teach religious studies appropriately. [88117]

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Jim Knight: All independent schools in England must be registered with my Department. All registered schools have to meet the standards set out in the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2003, as amended, which cover six main areas including the quality of the education provided; the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils; and the welfare, health and safety of pupils. Schools are required to assist pupils to acquire an appreciation of and respect for their own and other cultures in a way which promotes tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions.

Run-away Children

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the role of helplines in the provision of services for children and young people who run away; and what plans he has to extend that role. [88937]

Beverley Hughes: Helplines are one of a number of ways in which children who run away, or are thinking about running, can get help. The National Missing Person’s Helpline is one, which this year has received about £900,000 central Government funding. Other helplines available to young people in crisis, such as Connexions Direct and others run by voluntary and community organisations, do an important job advising runaways and their families.

But other sources of help and support are vital too. Children who run away need someone to talk to, but they also need help with the underlying problems that make them run. This should include prevention, mediation and other support services. The availability of such services is for local authorities to determine, according to local need. Local children’s services continue to provide the most effective and direct route to help runaways, and those at risk of running away. Government are driving forward improvements to all such services, for all children, through the Every Child Matters programme.

Recent projects have tested how best to provide responsive community-based services—including local helpline provision—within local authorities children’s services. We will disseminate the full lessons learnt from these to local authorities later this year. Future plans will be informed by these pilots, as well as by our current discussions with key stakeholders such as Children’s Society and regional and local authorities.

School Meals

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children in (a) Brent East and (b) Brent (i) are entitled to and (ii) claim free school meals. [87500]

Jim Knight: The information requested is shown in the following table:

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Maintained Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools( 1) : School Meal Arrangements( 2) January 2006( 3)
Number on roll Number of pupils taking free school meals ( 3) Percentage taking free school meals Number of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals Percentage known to be eligible for free school meals

Maintained Nursery and Primary













Brent East






Maintained Secondary













Brent East






(1) Includes middle schools as deemed (2) Includes dually registered pupils and boarding pupils. (3) Provisional (4) Number of pupils who took a free school meal on the day of the census in January. Source: Schools Census

School Premises

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what assessment he has made of the condition of school premises; [89116]

(2) what the cost was of outstanding repairs to school buildings identified by the 2005 Asset Management Survey; and when he will publish the full results of that survey; [89117]

(3) what the value was of outstanding repairs to school buildings in each year since 2002; and what proportion of this repair work has since been carried out. [89118]

Jim Knight: Based on data supplied to the Department over recent months by local education authorities, it is estimated that schools have repair and maintenance requirements of approximately £8.8 billion. This compares with £9.0 billion and £8.8 billion shown in data received in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Costs have been updated to current prices. In addition to backlog repair work, the figures cover work needed over a five year period from the dates of the assessments from which the data are derived, including cyclical and scheduled maintenance. The cost of urgent work has reduced by approximately 30 per cent. against the data received in 2001.

Central Government capital support for investment in schools has increased from under £700 million in 1996-97 to £5.5 billion in 2005-06 and will rise further to over £8 billion by 2010-11. While reducing maintenance requirements is a long term aim, the primary objectives for funding are to raise educational standards and tackle local deprivation. A substantial proportion of capital funding is targeted at transformational programmes, such as Building Schools for the Future and the primary capital programme. Over time, these programmes will significantly reduce future maintenance requirements.

The data received over recent months, referred to above, are currently being appraised and the Department is working with authorities where necessary to secure improvements in their asset management processes. Detailed national analysis will be published on completion of the appraisal.

School Testing

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the level of testing in schools; and if he will make a statement. [87954]

Jim Knight: The levels of testing have remained consistent for a number of years. There are three sets of national tests in the first nine years of education. This requirement for independent, objective evidence of performance is by no means excessive when set alongside the billions of pounds of public money that are invested in the education system each year.

The total number of statutory test papers taken during this time would amount to about 20.

The Key Stage 1 tests and tasks are not strictly timed and can be administered flexibly over an extended period.

The Key Stage 2 tests amount to a total of 5 hours 15 minutes spread over a week; in a key stage that covers four years, this represents about 0.14 per cent. of the available teaching time.

The Key Stage 3 tests amount to a total of 7 hours 40 minutes spread over a week; in a three-year key stage, this represents less than 0.2 per cent. of the available teaching time.

This relatively small commitment of time is vastly outweighed by the valuable information that can be provided by testing.

We believe the current level of assessment for English, maths and science is appropriate.

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