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Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which organisations were consulted prior to the publication of the Further Education and Training Bill on the granting to further education institutions of the power to award foundation degrees. 
Bill Rammell: The proposal in Clause 19 of the Further Education and Training Bill emerged after informal discussions with a number of interested parties in the further and higher education sectors, following a recommendation by Andrew Foster in his report that the issue of foundation degree-awarding powers for some further education colleges should be looked at. The proposal has also taken into account the challenges set by Lord Leitch in his recent report about the need to expand our higher-level skills base. Since the publication of the Bill, we have written to a wide range of stakeholders and interested bodies to seek their views. We have made clear our commitment to working with partners in both the further and higher education sectors to make the proposals function effectively. We have already had informal feedback welcoming the provision in the Bill.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what consultations he has undertaken on the provisions in the Further Education Training Bill [HL] that will allow further education colleges to offer foundation degree courses. 
Bill Rammell: I should make it clear that further education colleges already offer foundation degree courses; indeed 79 per cent. of all such programmes are currently delivered through the further education sector. The Department has written to a wide range of stakeholders and interested bodies to seek their views on the proposals contained in Clause 19. We have made clear our commitment to continue working with partners in both the further and higher education sectors to make the proposals function effectively.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the compatibility of extension of taught foundation degree-awarding powers to further education colleges with UK participation in the Bologne Process. 
Bill Rammell: The Bergen Communiqué of 2005 accepted the principle of Foundation Degrees within national systems by adopting an overarching framework for qualifications in the European Higher Education Area comprising three cycles. This includes, within national contexts, the possibility of short-cycle or intermediate HE qualifications (such as the Foundation Degree).
I should make it clear that allowing further education institutions to apply for the power to award Foundation Degrees will in no way alter or undermine the status of the Foundation Degree as a higher education qualification. Indeed, over three quarters of all current Foundation Degree programmes are delivered through the FE sector. Any further education institution applying for the power to award Foundation Degrees will be subject to rigorous quality assurance assessments which will be of the same standard as those already in place for institutions seeking degree- awarding powers. There is no question that the extension of Foundation Degree-awarding powers to further education institutions will be allowed to have any negative impact on the status of that qualification, whether in the domestic or international context.
|Academies: School meal arrangements, January 2006, England|
|Number and Percentage|
|(1 )Includes dually registered and boarding pupils.|
(2 )Number of pupils who took a free school meal on the day of the census in January.
Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many times (a) he and (b) his predecessors used powers under section 57 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The Department's records indicate that the powers under section 57 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 have never been used except where, following the resignation of the governing body, the Secretary of State has been required to appoint new governors. We consider that the existence of these powers does contribute to better outcomes in resolving cases where institutions get into difficulties.
We expect these powers to be used only in exceptional circumstanceswhere all other options have failed. We believe that having the power available and the possibility of it being exercised, has been the trigger in some cases for governing bodies to act themselves.
|GCSE all subjects( ) : number and percentage( ) of entrants achieving grades|
|A*||A||B||C||D||E||F||G||U( 1)||X( 2)|
|(1 )Refers to pupils who are ungraded or unclassified.|
(2 )Refers to pupils who were absent, or results pending
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