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Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on how many occasions his Department has been represented at a meeting of the Missing Persons Strategic Oversight Group since May 2004; and on what dates this occurred. 
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 28 February 2007]: The establishment of a Missing Persons Strategic Oversight Group was a recommendation of the Nove Review of the Police National Missing Persons Bureau in 2005, which proposed the establishment of a permanent oversight group drawn from statutory bodies and the voluntary sector. The group is chaired by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and supported by the Home Office.
DfES fully recognises the importance of the groups work and we are represented on it by officials, as part of our continuing commitments to cross-Government liaison on runaways and missing persons matters.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the sickness rates for children and family court advisory and support services practitioners in (a) public law and (b) private law were in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 22 February 2007]: This is a matter for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). Anthony Douglas, the chief executive, has written to the hon. Member with this information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.
I am writing to you in response to Parliamentary Question 122548.
PQ 122548To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, if he will give details of the sickness rates for children and family court advisory and support services in both public law and private law in each of the last five years.
CAFCASS does not have sickness absence rates broken down between different staff groups, such as private law practitioners and public law practitioners. The sickness absence rates for the entire CAFCASS workforce from 1 April 2004 are detailed in the table below. The figures represent the level of working days lost in each financial year, expressed as a percentage of total working days.
|Sickness absence rate (Percentage)|
Data on sickness absence prior to 2004 have not been included because the data collection systems were not robust enough to enable reliable information to be collected.
A copy of this reply will be placed in the House Library.
|Independent schools( 1) : Number of schools and number of pupils aged five-15 Position in January each year: 1997 to 2006 England|
|Number of schools||Number of pupils( 2)|
|(1) Excludes city technology colleges and academies.|
(2) Age as at 31 August in the previous year.
The number of pupils have been round to the nearest 10.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much each independent music service provider received from his Department for the purpose of providing music education in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: The Music Standards Fund (MSF) has been paid to local authorities since 1999/2000. Local authorities are responsible for procuring music services for their schools with this funding and some choose to do this by contracting with independent music service providers. Information is not held centrally on which authorities use these services.
In addition to the MSF, the Music and Dance Scheme provides funding for music education and training through the Aided Pupil Scheme at four independent specialist boarding schools and new national grants available at nine regional centres for advanced training (£12.5 million in 2006-07). The money includes outreach/partnership grants for working with state schools. From 2006/07, we will be providing additional funding to strengthen these partnerships.
Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance is in place in relation to a child who runs away from their home local authority area into another authority area. 
Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 28 February 2007]: It is a statutory responsibility for every local authority children's services to safeguard children in their area, including runaways, and local authorities have a duty to promote co-operation between all those who work with children.
Government issued Children Missing from Care and Homea guide to good practice in tandem with the Social Exclusion Unit's report Young Runaways, in 2002. This includes information for local authorities and their partner agencies on responding both to children in care who go missing from their placements and also to children who go missing from their homes. This guidance states that where runaways from one area present themselves in another local authority area, it will be important that the receiving authority negotiates with their home authority so that, if necessary, these children can be linked back into appropriate services that are local to their families.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what assessment he has made of the document Towards Greater Understanding: Meeting the needs of Muslim pupils in state schools produced by the Muslim Council of Britain and launched by the Chief Advisor for London Schools on 21 February; 
(2) whether he had been informed of the content of the document Towards Greater Understanding: Meeting the needs of Muslim pupils in state schools prior to it being launched by the Chief Advisor for London Schools. 
Jim Knight: The Muslim Council of Britain sent a draft copy of the document to the Secretary of State last autumn. The Secretary of State has made no specific assessment or endorsement of the document and there is no expectation on schools to adopt any of the specific recommendations made by the Muslim Council for Britain. Government believe that all schools have an ethos which encourages social responsibility, high aspirations, good citizenship and mutual understanding; and that schools recognise the cultural and faith needs of all pupils.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 20 February 2007, Official Report, columns 709-10W, on secondary education: curriculum, (1) what steps he expects schools to take to evaluate the effectiveness of any innovative curriculum plan they adopt; 
Jim Knight: It is for schools to decide the way in which they will evaluate the effectiveness of any innovative curriculum plan they undertake. All school activities are subject to inspection by Ofsted, and one of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's specific responsibilities is to monitor the curriculum and to report on developments in the national curriculum subjects.
in English, children will continue to read classical literature and will study Shakespeare and pre-20th century writers;
in history, they will continue to learn about the importance and impact of events in the last century, such as the world wars and the holocaust;
children will continue to learn to read music and will be taught about classical traditions;
in science, children will continue to learn about energy, electricity, reproduction, astronomy and space; and
in maths, we have retained statistics, algebra, geometry and equations, while putting more emphasis on the use of maths to solve real problems.
The recent changes to the science curriculum at Key Stage 4 give teachers more flexibility to communicate the excitement of science. The new Key Stage 3 science curriculum has been reviewed to complement the key Stage 4 programme of study so that science teaching for all age groups is integrated and engaging for pupils. There are no plans to change the format of the Key Stage science programme of study.
The guidance for teachers which will help them track the progress of their pupils, including how well they have grasped the key concepts and skills in each curriculum subject, will be developed by the QCA with input from other experts. There are no plans for a consultation on the guidance.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 20 February 2007, Official Report, columns 709-10W, on secondary education: curriculum, in what way removing overlap and highlighting connections between subjects will create time for teachers to personalise their teaching. 
Reducing the amount of overly detailed factual content in the curriculum will free up time in the school timetable. Schools and teachers can use that time to give more lessons in English and mathematics to pupils struggling with the basics, and to give opportunities for other pupils to extend their learning in areas in which they have particular interests and aptitudes. This moves us away from a one-size-fits-all curriculum to one that offers more flexibility to tailor teaching to pupils' needs and aspirations.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 20 February 2007, Official Report, columns 709-10W, on secondary education: curriculum, how he plans to assess whether schools are (a) providing effective catch-up lessons where needed and (b) creating opportunities for pupils to deepen and extend their learning where they have particular interests and aptitudes. 
Jim Knight: We will assess the effectiveness of the new secondary curriculum through QCAs monitoring reports and Ofsted inspection reports. We will examine the key stage 3 national curriculum test results and attainment levels in GCSE and equivalent qualifications. We will monitor post-16 participation rates to see whether or not the revised secondary curriculum has been successful in engaging and challenging young people so that more are encouraged to remain in education and training for longer.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 20 February 2007, Official Report, columns 709-10W, on secondary education: curriculum, whether he plans to make (a) providing catch-up lessons where needed and (b) creating opportunities for pupils to deepen and extend their learning where they have particular interests and aptitudes compulsory elements of the national curriculum. 
Jim Knight: We fully expect that schools will want to take advantage of the increased flexibility offered by the revised secondary curriculum to provide catch-up lessons where needed and to create opportunities for pupils to deepen and extend their learning where they have particular interests and aptitudes. However, it will not be a statutory requirement of the national curriculum. It will be for schools to decide how best to deliver the new curriculum to meet the needs of pupils.
Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teachers in each local education authority in the West Midlands are to be given training on how to search pupils and use techniques to calm pupils. 
Jim Knight: As stated in our draft guidance, which is now published for consultation, any head teacher who chooses to authorise staff to search pupils, should arrange training for all staff whom they authorise. The Department will not collect data on numbers being trained.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has received on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance from (a) the Government of France and (b) the Governments of all other signatories to the Convention. 
Mr. McCartney: The Government of France invited my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to sign the treaty at the signing ceremony in Paris on 6 February. The UK declined because the UK does not sign international treaties unless it has a firm intention to ratify within a reasonable time frame. We have received no formal representation from any other signatory regarding the convention.
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