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17 Oct 2006 : Column 1117W—continued

Thames Gateway

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans her Department has to include art, culture, heritage and sport in the proposals for the Thames Gateway; and if she will make a statement. [93740]

Mr. Caborn: My Department is working closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to ensure that our sectors are fully integrated into plans for the Thames Gateway, and that London’s successful bid to stage the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games provides long-term regeneration benefits for the Lower Lea Valley and the wider Thames Gateway.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will address a plenary session on the role of culture in the Gateway at the annual Thames Gateway Forum on 23 November, and the Department and its non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) will be hosting an exhibition stand. The Secretary of State and the Minister for Culture also addressed the Thames Gateway Forum in 2005.

There are also a number of specific initiatives under way including:

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Education and Skills

Child Trust Funds

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the cost in each year for which such estimates are available of the proposals outlined by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on 27 September 2006 (a) to pay an extra £100 a year into Child Trust Fund accounts of those children in care and (b) to create a £2,000 bursary to help children in care go to university. [93455]

Beverley Hughes: The estimated costs for the proposal to top up the Child Trust Fund for children in care in the UK are as follows:






























The estimated costs for the creation of a £2,000 bursary to help children in care in England go to university are as follows:








Curriculum Online

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many hits Curriculum Online has received since its commencement; and if he will make a statement. [91369]

Phil Hope: The Curriculum Online website site has attracted over 3 million visits since it was launched in 2003.

The Curriculum Online website has been designed and updated in consultation with teachers. It has a powerful and innovative search engine that allows teachers to search by subject, title, size of resource (e.g. from a single lesson to whole school) or supplier. Teachers can even search for Foundation resources only, SEN resources only, free/priced resources, or resources for use with an interactive whiteboard. Many products carry independent evaluations and/or teacher reviews to help teachers further in their decision
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making. The ability to view quotes from several suppliers for the same product can also help teachers to make purchases which offer better value for their money.

Director General for Higher Education

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he expects to appoint a new Director General for Higher Education. [93757]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 16 October 2006]: The Department will review the position later in the year and take a decision then. In the meantime, we have an interim in place.

Further Education Enrolment

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people enrolled in further education classes (a) up to the age of 19, (b) between 20 and 25, (c) between 26 and 60, (d) over 60 and (e) across all age groups in (i) 2005-06 and (ii) 2006-07. [93750]

Bill Rammell: Full-year figures showing the number of people enrolled on LSC-funded courses in Further Education (FE) for 2005-06 and 2006-07 will not be published until December 2006 and December 2007 respectively. However, early-year estimates for participation in 2005-06 were published in a Statistical First Release (SFR) in March 2006, and show the numbers of learners enrolled on FE courses on 1 October 2005. The following table is based on the data underpinning that SFR.

Table 1: Learners enrolled on FE courses on 1 October 2005
Age of learner Number of learners (000)

19 and under






61 and older




Higher Education Maintenance Grant

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students claimed the higher education maintenance grant in each of the last 10 years, broken down by region. [93030]

Bill Rammell: It is assumed that the question refers to the higher education grant (HEG) introduced for new students in academic year 2004/05, rather than the new HE maintenance grant which will be introduced in 2006/07, and the question has been answered on this basis. The HEG did not exist before 2004/2005.

The number(1) of English domiciled students in each Government Office region in receipt of a Higher Education Grant in 2004/05 and 2005/06 (provisional) is given in the table.

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Academic year
Government Office region 2004/05 2005/06( 2)

East Midlands



East of England






North East



North West



South East



South West



West Midlands



Yorkshire and The Humber






(1) Numbers rounded to the nearest hundred. (2) Provisional as at 10 October 2006. (3) The total may not be equal to the sum of the constituent parts due to rounding. Source: Student Loans Company (SLC).

Information Index

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether the new Information Index will have the technological capacity to store photographs. [94666]

Beverley Hughes: The technical specification for the information sharing index does not include the capacity for it to store photographs.

The index will hold only basic identifying information, contact details for parents, carers and services accessed, and an indication that a practitioner has information to share, is taking action, or has undertaken an assessment.

This intention is clearly specified in section 12 of the Children Act 2004.

Student Loans

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the pilot scheme to administer student loans run by Student Finance Direct. [93686]

Bill Rammell: We will be evaluating the performance of the pilot in order to learn lessons for the development of the new service which will be rolled out nationally from September 2008 for students starting higher education in the 2009-10 academic year. The Student Loans Company has reported that the pilot unit is currently processing applications within the laid down national performance standards.

Teenage Pregnancy

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what discussions (a) Ministers and (b) officials from his Department have had with the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy about its recommendation to require compulsory lessons in schools on abortion; and if he will make a statement; [93207]

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(2) what representations (a) Ministers and (b) officials from his Department have received from (i) individuals and (ii) organisations about the recommendations made by the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy to require compulsory lessons in schools on abortion; and if he will make a statement; [93209]

(3) how much funding his Department has provided to the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy since July. [93208]

Beverley Hughes: The Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group's (TPIAG) fourth annual report—published in September 2006—included six recommendations, none of which called on Government to introduce compulsory lessons in schools on abortion.

In her foreword, however, the TPIAG Chair—Gill Frances—did argue that pregnant young women and their partners should have access to impartial, evidence-based information on the options open to them, including abortion, to help inform the decision about whether or not to continue with the pregnancy. This is a view with which the Government concurs. TPIAG report that many myths prevail, including the fact that abortion may lead to infertility, which they are concerned may be a contributory factor to repeat abortions.

The TPIAG Chair also argues that school-based Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) programmes should provide opportunities to convey factual information about abortion. The Government expect all schools to offer comprehensive SRE programmes, in line with its SRE guidance to schools, issued in 2000. Schools are also encouraged to evaluate their SRE programmes against the QCA’s end of key stage statements, issued in November 2005.

Ministers in the Department for Education and Skills have received a small amount of correspondence from members of the public concerned about press reports, which wrongly said that TPIAG had called for schools to ‘promote the benefits’ of abortion. This was not the case.

The TPIAG monitors implementation and makes independent recommendations on the future development of the teenage pregnancy strategy. Government will publish its formal response to TPIAG’s report early next year.

Members of TPIAG are not paid a salary. All members receive a daily rate for attending meetings (110). The Chair receives an annuity of £15,000 a year, including expenses, reflecting the time and commitment put into tackling this important Government priority.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of the Teenage Pregnancy Unit on reducing teenage pregnancies; and if he will make a statement; [93229]

(2) if he will make a statement on the future of the Teenage Pregnancy Unit. [93232]

Beverley Hughes: There has been steady progress on reducing under-18 conception rates since the Teenage
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Pregnancy Strategy was launched in 1999. Between 1998 (the baseline year for the strategy) and 2004 (the latest year for which data are available), the under-18 rate has fallen by 11.1 per cent. and the under-16 rate has fallen by 15.2 per cent. Both rates are now at their lowest levels for 20 years.

Delivery guidance issued to local authorities and primary care trusts in July 2006 set out what was working in areas with sharply declining rates and requires all areas to reflect these findings in their future plans. A broader strategy document published in September 2006 provided analysis on the underlying causes of teenage pregnancy, to help local areas to target their strategies on young people at greatest risk.

The strategy includes a challenging public service agreement target to halve the under-18 conception rate by 2010 (compared to the 1998 baseline rate). We envisage that we will continue to need a small team of policy officials within DfES (the Teenage Pregnancy Unit currently has seven members of staff) to drive forward the Strategy. Broad estimates calculate that every pound spent on the Strategy, results in savings of four pounds to the public purse, when assessed over a period of five years.

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