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9 Jan 2007 : Column 556W—continued

Ofsted data on closures include registered places in settings which are transferring ownership, and in settings which move from one Ofsted category to another, not just in those which are ceasing trading. For example, if a sessional provider moved to offering full day care provision, this would be recorded as a ‘closed’ sessional setting and an ‘opened’ full day care setting. The Ofsted data therefore exaggerate the true extent of turnover in terms of both the number of places and the number of providers.

Prior to April 2003 the method of collecting data from local authorities did not enable the calculation of a figure for the stock of child care providers or places. Therefore it is not possible to provide a percentage figure for the closures of providers or places for the periods 2001-02 and 2002-03.

Closure rates should be seen in the context of opening rates for the corresponding periods and are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Opening rate for child care providers and places
2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 March to September 2006
Provider opening rate Places opening rate Provider opening rate Places opening rate Provider opening rate Places opening rate Provider opening rate Places opening rate










Full day care









Out of school



















Ofsted have produced figures on the numbers of registered child care providers and places on a quarterly basis from March 2003. Their latest figures were published in their report, “Registered Childcare Providers and Places, September 2006”, which is available on their website,

Children in Care

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the merits of the provision of support for children in care through (a) peer support and (b) mentors; and what steps he is taking to promote these forms of support. [110336]

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Mr. Dhanda: Mentoring for children in care features in a number of local authority programmes and voluntary sector initiatives and there is anecdotal evidence of its potential benefits. In recognition of this the Department is providing up to £1.5 million for the development and evaluation of an adult mentoring programme for 600 looked-after children aged between 10 and 15, to be delivered through the voluntary and community sector. In addition, peer mentoring is a feature of a three-year DfES-funded pilot project led by the School Home Support Service UK, which is designed to support children in care who are making the transition from primary to secondary school.

Educational Maintenance Allowance

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the costs of the Educational Maintenance Allowance were in the most recent period for which figures are available; and what estimate he has made of the cost of extending the allowance to all A-level students. [112834]

Bill Rammell: During the 2005/06 academic year the total Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) expenditure was £443.5 million, of which £396.8 million was specifically spent on student payments.

The estimated total cost of EMA if it was extended to all young people in full-time further education, based on the 2005/06 full-time education participation figures, which include A Level students, is £1,057 million.

From April 2006 EMA was extended to young people on LSC-funded programme-led apprenticeships and entry-to-employment programmes. Therefore in addition to the costs for those in full-time further education, there would be additional costs for students participating on those work-based learning programmes.

Foreign Postgraduate Students

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what correspondence his Department has with the Home Office to determine whether students from countries of weapons of mass destruction proliferation concern could use their studies in the UK for unfriendly purposes; how many projects of the students referred to in the answer of 13 March 2006, Official Report, column 1870W, on foreign postgraduate students, are being supported from UK public funds; and if he will ask the relevant funding body to place in the Library the synopses sent to it as part of the awards process. [108088]

Bill Rammell: The Department has not been in correspondence with the Home Office on this matter but DfES officials have attended meetings convened by the Cabinet Office about the student vetting scheme, at which Home Office officials have also been present. International postgraduate students are not eligible to receive student grants or loans, but there are a number of Government scholarships schemes which are available to talented students from around the world.

The largest of these is the Chevening scholarship scheme administered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In 2004/05 there were seven students from China in receipt of Chevening awards
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studying biology, chemistry, physics or chemical process and energy engineering. No other students from the six countries referred to in the answer of 13 March 2006, Official Report, column 1870W were studying these subjects and in receipt of a Chevening award. Details of recipients of awards from smaller schemes run by other Government Departments and funding bodies are not collected centrally. It is not possible to provide details of individual projects.

Further Education and Training Bill

Mr. Paul Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will meet with the Leader of the House to discuss the pre-legislative scrutiny of the provisions of the Further Education and Training Bill (Lords) as they relate to Wales; [113055]

(2) if he will meet the Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Dr. Francis), to discuss the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Welsh aspects of the Further Education and Training Bill (Lords). [113071]

Bill Rammell: The Bill has already received its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 13 December 2006. Members of both Houses will be able to scrutinise and suggest amendments to the Bill during its remaining parliamentary passage, including in relation to the provisions for Wales.

Higher Education: Sunderland

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students participated in higher education in each year since 1997 in the Sunderland City Council area. [110060]

Bill Rammell: The latest available figures are shown in the table. The figures for 2005/06 will be available in January 2007.

Total number of enrolments on Higher Education courses at the University of Sunderland and the City of Sunderland College, 1997/98 to 2004/05
Academic year Total enrolments

















The figures for total enrolments are derived by summation of figures derived from data collected by HESA and LSC. They have been rounded to the nearest 5 enrolments. The figures for the years up to 2000/01 are not directly comparable with the figures for the years from 2001/02. The figures derived from data from HESA are on a snapshot basis as at 1 December each year and exclude writing up, sabbatical and dormant modes of study. The figures derived from data from LSC are on a snapshot basis as at 1 November each year up to 2000/01. They are on a whole year count basis from 2001/02. The figures do not include enrolments on higher education courses at the Open University of people in the Sunderland City Council area.
The figures for the University of Sunderland were derived from data collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). The figures for the City of Sunderland College were derived from data collected by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

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Inter-country Adoptions

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average time taken to process inter-country adoptions was in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [113037]

Mr. Dhanda: There is no centrally held information on the average length of time it takes to complete an inter-country adoption, which covers the time of the initial approach of the prospective adopters to an adoption agency until the point of legal recognition of the adoption in the UK.

The length of time taken to effect an inter-country adoption is dependent on the complexity of the individual case. A range of bodies is involved in the process, including foreign authorities, adoption agencies, and embassies. The process of identifying a prospective ‘match’ between would-be adopters and a foreign child is usually the lengthiest element of the process, which takes a period of several months but can take more than a year.

Learning and Skills Council

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the likely numbers of redundancies at the Learning and Skills Council in Coventry; and if he will make a statement. [112763]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 8 January 2007]: The Learning and Skills Council has carried out a radical restructuring exercise which will ensure that it becomes even more effective at identifying and responding to learning and skill needs. The new structure will include around 150 new local partnership teams, which will work with key local stakeholders to secure a wide choice of high-quality provision which reflects what individuals, employers and wider communities want and helps to deliver our long term economic success. They will work alongside a number of specialist Economic Development teams, and will be supported by nine new regional centres that will provide core operational services and co-ordinate the LSC’s work with regional partners.

The new structure is expected to require 1,100 fewer posts across the whole organisation. The LSC continues to do all it can to avoid making compulsory redundancies, and estimates that nationally these changes will save up to £40 million per year, which can be directed to front line services.

Nurseries and Child Care

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the maximum time is that may elapse before (a) nurseries and (b) other childcare settings must be inspected by OFSTED following the registration of those settings; and if he will make a statement. [113321]

Beverley Hughes: Currently Ofsted visits child care providers before registration and inspects them within seven months of joining the register, and then at least once within the next three years. Through the Childcare Act 2006 we are reforming the inspection
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and regulation of child care and from September 2008 Ofsted will operate two registers: The Early Years Register (EYR), for children up to five; and the Ofsted Childcare Register (OCR), for school-aged children and for child care for younger children not required to be registered. The OCR will be compulsory for providers of child care to children aged five to seven and voluntary for other child care. Regular inspections will continue after 2008 for providers, including nurseries, registered on the EYR. Inspection of child care registered on the OCR will be carried out proportionately on the basis of risks to children. Ofsted will at any time be able to request evidence that registered providers are meeting the OCR requirements, and will carry out the majority of inspections on a random basis.

Nursery Education

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations he has received on a regulatory impact assessment of the implementation of the 2006 Code of Practice for Nursery Education Provision. [113509]

Beverley Hughes: In late 2006, the Department and the Cabinet Office Better Regulation Executive (BRE) received several requests for copies of regulatory impact assessments carried out on the 2006 “Code of Practice on the Provision of Free Nursery Education Places for 3 and 4 Year-Olds.”

The single substantive change to the delivery of the free early education entitlement, set out in the 2006 Code of Practice, was the extension of the minimum free entitlement from 33 to 38 weeks. Following full public consultation, we made clear our recognition that not all providers would be able to extend their provision to 38 weeks and that, at the relevant local authority’s discretion, they could be funded for the provision they actually delivered. Furthermore, all local authorities received additional funding to support the extension to the free entitlement. We therefore concluded that there should not be a substantive regulatory impact and that a regulatory impact assessment was not required.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what recent representations he has received on free at-the-point-of-delivery nursery provision in England; [113510]

(2) what representations he has received on the effect of the implementation of the 2006 DFES Code of Practice for Nursery Education Provision. [113511]

Beverley Hughes: Child care provision, free at the point of delivery, has been a universal entitlement for all four-year-olds since 1998 and for all three-year-olds since 2004. It is widely supported by parents, providers, local authorities and other stakeholders.

My colleagues and I regularly meet representatives of a range of stakeholders with an interest in the free entitlement and other child care issues. These meetings have been opportunities to celebrate the progress that we are making together towards the delivery of our
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Ten-Year Childcare Strategy commitments and to discuss issues of implementation including those relating to the 2006 code of practice.

Since the code of practice came into force in April 2006, Ministers and officials have received a range of correspondence from a variety of stakeholders. Correspondents routinely acknowledge the benefits of the free entitlement for children, and demonstrate commitment to its delivery. A number of correspondents have raised issues relating to the arrangements for increasing the free entitlement from 33 to 38 weeks and to 15 hours per week by 2010, and a number have expressed views about the Government’s position on providers charging parents for elements of their free provision.

In responding, I have been clear that the Government provide sufficient funding to local authorities for the delivery of a universal free early learning entitlement that benefits all children regardless of their parents’ income or ability to pay. Local authorities have discretion over the use they make of funding from the Dedicated Schools Grant including the rates at which they fund early education in all types of setting. They are encouraged to fund early years provision equitably across settings in accordance with local circumstances. It has always been unacceptable for providers to charge so-called “top-up fees” for the free entitlement, in addition to the money they receive from local authorities for delivering the free entitlement.

We conducted a full public consultation on the 2006 code of practice, to which 585 responses were received, the majority from private providers. Most respondents were content with the extension of the free entitlement to 38 weeks in all sectors. None of those who responded questioned the requirement to ensure that the entitlement is entirely free at the point of delivery.

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