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2 Mar 2007 : Column 1596Wcontinued
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many and what proportion of students gained (a) one, (b) two, (c) three, (d) four and (e) five GCSEs of each grade in each year since 1996; how many gained no GCSEs; and how many gained five or more GCSEs of which one was (i) mathematics and (ii) English. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 23 February 2007]: The information requested can only be provided within the deadline at a disproportionate cost. The following table shows the number and percentage of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4(1) achieving the requested information for 2006(2).
(1) Pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 in the 2005/06 academic year.
(2) Includes attempts and achievements by these pupils in previous academic years.
|GCSE and equivalent achievements for 2005/06( 2) for pupils at the end of Key Stage 4( 1)|
|GCSEs and equivalents||Number||Percentage|
|(1) Pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 in the 2005/06 academic year.|
(2) Includes attempts and achievements by these pupils in previous academic years.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the Assessing Pupils Progress projects in English and mathematics referred to in the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority review of the secondary curriculum. 
Jim Knight: APP (Assessing Pupil Progress) materials are designed to secure teachers summative assessment judgements of pupil progress in Key Stage 3.
APP materials for Reading and Writing were distributed to all secondary schools in 2006; Speaking and Listening materials will be distributed in 2007. Maths APP materials will be distributed to schools in the next few weeks.
The content of these materials has been developed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) with input from other experts, and disseminated through the secondary national strategies. The QCA are currently working on parallel materials for Science and for foundation subjects.
The English and Maths APP materials were both piloted for two years under the title MPP (Monitoring Pupil Progress) before being rolled out to all schools. The Department is also piloting comparable materials for primary schools, with a view to rolling them out nationally in 2008.
These materials are at the heart of our approach to Assessment for Learning (AfL), which is
...the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there. (Assessment Reform Group, 2002).
We are committed to improving schools use of pupil assessment data to inform more personalised learning, and these approaches will be tested as part of the Making Good Progress pilots announced recently. The APR materialsas well as other guidance on some of the classroom techniques that underpin AfL, such as peer assessment and objective-settingcan be found on the Standards website at:
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will assess the effectiveness of the consultation on the secondary curriculum. 
Jim Knight: The QCA is responsible for the secondary curriculum review consultation and any evaluation into its effectiveness. The criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of any consultation are set out in the Cabinet Office Code of Practice on Consultation.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether usability testing was conducted on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority secondary curriculum review website among (a) parents, (b) pupils, (c) school governing bodies, (d) teachers and (e) head teachers. 
Jim Knight: No formal usability testing of the secondary curriculum review website was conducted by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). QCA welcomes feedback from parents, pupils, governors, teachers and head teachers on the website as part of the consultation process. The website will be developed further in response to user comments.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority took steps to ensure the materials on the curriculum review website were written in plain language. 
Jim Knight: The materials on the curriculum review website were written to the best practice standards the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority uses for all the materials it publishes. This includes multiple edits, a plain English check and the assurance that the appropriate technical terms were used as necessary.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether he plans to monitor the use to which schools put the supporting materials to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority secondary curriculum review if implemented. 
Jim Knight: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) will monitor the use of the supporting materials by schools. QCA will revise and adapt supporting materials in light of feedback from schools as the revised secondary curriculum is implemented.
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms are in place to ensure the impartiality of decision-makers in local authorities judging (a) whether a child should receive a statement of special needs and (b) whether to pay for statemented children's education. 
Mr. Dhanda: Local authorities, under the Education Act 1996, have a duty, where necessary, to assess childrens special educational needs (SEN) and draw up SEN statements. When doing so they have to have regard to the statutory guidance set out in the SEN Code of Practice. The Code provides criteria for deciding to draw up a statement and advises local authorities to set up moderating groups to support transparency and consistency in deciding whether to draw up statements. The Act also gives parents the right to appeal decisions not to draw up statements to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Once a statement has been finalised local authorities are under a statutory duty to arrange the special educational provision set out on the statement. This includes ensuring the funding to support the educational provision is available.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money generated from the Aggregates Levy Fund was spent on heritage projects in each year of its existence; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: The levy on aggregate extraction was introduced in April 2002; part of the money raised by the levy finances the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF). The aim of ALSF is to address the environmental and social costs of aggregate extraction through delivery of environmental improvements, minimising the demand for primary aggregates and reducing the local effects of aggregate extraction.
The following table outlines the ALSF money that has been spent on heritage projects in each year since 2002.
|ALSF money spent on heritage projects|
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what scientific assessment has been made of the capacity of the (a) pig and (b) broiler chicken standards in the Red Tractor assurance scheme to support the achievement of the standards of animal welfare set out in the Governments Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Red Tractor assurance scheme is a private initiative which seeks to assure compliance, by farmers, with standards that are in line with, and in some instances exceed, legislative requirements concerning food safety, animal welfare and, to a lesser extent, environmental protection.
The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) noted in their August 2001 Interim Report on the Animal Welfare Implications of Farm Assurance Schemes that:
Even if they did no more than assure minimum welfare standards, the growing influence of regular audits required by farm assurance can only be of benefit in raising awareness and standards.
In their subsequent report, Welfare Implications of Farm Assurance Schemes FAWC made a number of recommendations on how both assurance and organic certification schemes could help deliver further improvements in animal welfare. We have been in contact with the schemes about these recommendations.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the remit is of the inquiry by his Department into the recent events at Bernard Matthews at Holton in Suffolk; and how the (a) proceedings and (b) conclusions of the inquiry will be communicated to the public. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The final Food Standards Agency-led report into the possible transmission of the H5N1 avian influenza virus from imported Hungarian turkey meat to the UK was published on February 16. It concluded that there is no evidence that any meat has entered the UK food chain from the restricted zones in Hungary and that all food importing and processing activities undertaken were in line with European Commission law. It also found that the risk to workers in and around the Bernard Mathews food plant, and by other routes was very low.
Defra's interim epidemiological report, published on February 16, concluded that the importation of poultry products via Hungary is currently the most plausible route of transmission. This investigation is still ongoing. All possible routes of infection are being investigated and we have not yet been able to rule out any method of introduction. A full report will be published on the Defra website when the investigation is complete. Copies will also be placed in the Libraries of the House. It is likely that this will take a further few weeks.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how avian influenza was spread from one shed to others at Bernard Matthews Holton plant; and what the time period was between first identification of the virus and later identification in other sheds. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza was confirmed on the Bernard Matthews Holton plant on 3 February. All birds on the plant were culled between 17:30 on 3 February and 20:45 on 5 February.
Samples were taken from the birds in all 21 sheds when they were culled. The presence of highly pathogenic H5N1 infection, of the Asian lineage, was confirmed in three other sheds on 9 February. On-site epidemiological investigations indicate that these sheds might have become infected as a result of a reduction of biosecurity measures following the initial laboratory results from the clinically affected birds. Staff previously assigned to groups of other sheds were used for the depopulation of the affected house. Personnel movements between the sheds is therefore a possible means of dissemination.
This investigation is still ongoing. A full report will be published on the Defra website when the investigation is complete. Copies will also be placed in the Libraries of the House. It is likely that this will take a few weeks yet.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department first learnt that Hungarian poultry meat was being transported to Bernard Matthews at Holton, Suffolk. 
Mr. Bradshaw: My Department was aware of regular consignments of poultry meat from Hungary to the Bernard Matthews plant in Holton, taking place in compliance with European Union intra-community trade legislation, before the clinical outbreak of H5N1 infection.
However, on 13 February, test results revealed that the strain of virus found in the Holton turkeys was a 99.96 per cent. match to the strain found in Hungary. This made transmission direct from Hungary more likely and this is when our investigation began to focus on this possible link.
The investigation is ongoing and we have not yet been able to rule out any method of virus introduction.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what procedures his Department put in operation to effect a rapid cull of turkeys at Holton; and what alternative options were considered. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Culling to control the recent outbreak of H5N1 was carried out in accordance with Defra's revised Contingency Plan for Exotic Animal Diseases, which was laid before Parliament on 13 December 2006 and the State Veterinary Service operational instructions.
With the number of birds involved, gassing was considered to be the only practical option. Following a review of the various gassing options, a decision was made to kill the birds in a slaughterhouse adjacent to the premise using an anoxic gas mixture.
The Department's priorities were to ensure the health and safety of all involved in the operation, that bird welfare was safeguarded and that we completed the process as quickly as possible without compromising biosecurity.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what biosecurity methods are in operation at Holton; and what methods are in use at other poultry units in England. 
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