Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the impact of recent changes in the way schools provide cover for absent teachers on (a) supply teachers, (b) school budgets and (c) pupil performance. 
Jim Knight: The National Agreement on Raising Standards and Tackling Workload, signed in January 2003, heralded a number of changes that have now been made to the way in which schools can use support staff in schools. For the first time, there are clearly laid out conditions under which support staff can be deployed to assist or support the work of teachers, for example by providing cover for teacher absence. Schools can either use support staff to provide cover supervision for pupils during teacher absence, or higher level teaching assistants to undertake specified teaching and learning activities. Whether or not schools choose to use support staff to cover teacher absence is entirely a matter for them, but those who do believe that it is a more effective way of maintaining learning than bringing in an unfamiliar supply teacher.
Although the amount schools spent on supply teachers fell between 2002/03 and 2004/05, it rose in 2005/06. We are nevertheless aware that some supply teachers have reported a fall in the amount of work they have been offered. Any such falls can probably be attributed both to the impact of the school workforce remodelling changes and to the buoyant supply of primary teachers. Supply teachers retain a vital role. Cover supervision is appropriate only in certain circumstances, for example to cover for short-term absence, and schools will continue to use supply
teachers for cover, especially for medium to long-term absence, and in primary schools wherein the vast majority of casesthey are expected to teach. In secondary schools supply teachers are typically used to supervise pupils.
A recent Headspace survey of school leaders indicated that over half believed that standards of teaching and learning had improved as a result of workforce reform. Whilst it is for individual schools to make an assessment of the impact of their cover strategies on their budgets and on the performance of their pupils, we and the Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group continue to monitor closely the impact of workforce reform, including the use of support staff for cover. We do this through a number of mechanisms, including a major research project looking at the deployment and characteristics of support staff and exploring the impact of support staff on teaching and learning, and monitoring activity by the Training and Development Agency for Schools.
Mr. Dhanda: The number of adoption orders made for all children by courts in England and Wales for 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2004 (latest figures available) was 5,360. A breakdown of this figure by region could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Statistical information on the total number of adoptions is included in the statistics series Marriage, divorce and adoptions; volume FM2, published by the Office of National Statistics. A copy of this publication is available in the House Library.
|Further maths candidates
|All GCE A level candidates
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many pupils in maintained schools in England gained grade A at A-level in (a) mathematics, (b) physics, (c) chemistry, (d) biology and (e) modern languages in each year since 1997; 
|Candidates aged 16 to 18
|Candidates aged 16 to 18 achieving an A grade
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many new school buildings are scheduled to open in (a) 2007 and (b)
2008 under the Building Schools for the Future programme; 
Jim Knight: To date, six local authorities have signed contracts for their Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects. The first of these was Bristol in June 2006, which marked the establishment of the first Local Education Partnership (LEP), a long-term public private partnership which is the preferred model for delivering local BSF projects. Greenwich and Manchester signed contracts with their respective private sector partners in October and November 2006, followed by Lancashire, Bradford and Lambeth in December 2006. We expect several more contracts to be signed in the coming months.
Speedwell Technology College in Bristol will be the first school to open under the programme, in September 2007. It is one of four new schools in Bristol's BSF project and is being financed by PFI credit funding of approximately £36.8 million out of the £154.99 million PFI credits allocated for the whole project. The PFI contract is for 27 years and covers designing, building, financing and operating the schools. The Department is not a party to the contract and therefore we do not have a breakdown of design and construction costs.
We do not hold details of how much has been spent on fees under BSF as this is a matter for individual local authorities. BSF funding includes an allowance for professional fees (including architects and other design consultants, as appropriate) of 12.5 per cent. of construction costs for new build projects and 15 per cent. of construction costs for refurbishment projects. It is for local authorities to manage all project costs, including fees, within the available funding.