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Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many free part-time nursery education places there were for (a) three-year-olds and (b) four-year-olds in schools in England in each year from 1997 to 2007; and what proportion of the age group each figure represents. 
|Number of free nursery education places( 1) taken up by three and four-year-olds England Position in January each year|
|Total 3-year-olds||Total 4-year-olds|
|Maintained nursery and primary schools( 2)||Other maintained and private, voluntary and independent providers||Number||Percentage||Maintained nursery and primary schools( 3)||Other maintained and private, voluntary and independent providers||Number||Percentage|
|(1) Figures are rounded to the nearest 100 if they exceed 1,000 and to the nearest 10 otherwise.|
(2 )Headcount of children aged three at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Annual Schools' Census.
(3 )Headcount of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Annual Schools' Census.
(4 )Not available.
(5 )Part-time equivalent number of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Nursery Education Grant data collection exercise.
(6 )Part-time equivalent number of children aged three at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Nursery Education Grant data collection exercise.
(7 )Part-time equivalent number of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Early Years Census supplementary data collection exercise and the Annual Schools' Census.
(8 )Part-time equivalent number of children aged three at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Early Years Census and the Annual Schools' Census.
(9 )Part-time equivalent number of children aged four at 31 December in the previous calendar year from the Early Years Census and the Annual Schools' Census.
The latest figures on early education places for three and four-year-olds in England were published in Statistical First Release 32/2006 Provision for children under five years of age in EnglandJanuary 2006 (final) in August, which is available on the Department's website
The latest figures on registered child care providers and places are available on the following website, www.ofsted.gov.uk/
(1) Local authorities were responsible for the registration and inspection of childrens day care facilities until these responsibilities were transferred to Ofsted in September 2001.
With the introduction of the National Day Care Standards and the transfer of responsibilities for registration and inspection of child care providers from local authority social service departments to Ofsted in September 2001, child care places were classified according to the type of day care provided. Previously, child care places were classified according to the type of provider. The figures for 1997 include child minders, day nurseries and out of school clubs. The figures for 2006 include child minders, full day care and out of school care.
Jim Knight [holding answer 19 March 2007]: The decision was informed by the large body of evidence which shows that academies are an effective way of improving performance in underperforming schools and that despite the overall rise in education standards over the last decade there will remain a significant number of schools beyond the initial target of 200 academies which are underperforming and would benefit by becoming an academy.
The percentage of pupils getting five good GCSEs including English and Maths in academies improved last year alone by 6.2 percentage pointssix times better than the national improvement rate of one percentage pointand all 21 academies which had students who took GCSEs in 2006 are above the floor targets; 18 of the 24 predecessor schools they replaced were below.
Academies are making dramatic improvements at key stage threeabove the national averagewith rises last year of 8.1 percentage points in English, 9 percentage points in Maths and 10.5 percentage points in Science compared to previous validated results.
Sixteen academies have had full Ofsted inspections. Key to the future success of the academies is their leadership and management. On this indicator, Ofsted has classed two academies as outstanding, 10 as good, three as satisfactory and one as inadequate.
There is growing support from local authorities. For example, Manchester city council has ambitious plans for eight academies across the citystrategically targeting underperforming schools in disadvantaged communities and forming part of wider programmes of regeneration.
Last year's independent PricewaterhouseCoopers evaluation of academies found strong pupil and teacher support for academies. It included a survey reporting that 81 per cent. of pupils thought their school work had improved since joining the academy
and that total attendance in academies had risen and at a faster rate than the national average.
All of the above were factors in the decision to expand the programme to 400. The case has since been reinforced by the positive findings of the NAO report on academies published last month, which found that academies are
on track to deliver good value for money.
Jim Knight: Yesterday we announced the first 145 consortia (groups of schools, colleges and training providers) that have been given approval to offer one or more of the first five 14-19 diplomas from September 2008. The five 14-19 diplomas to be offered from September are: Creative and Media; Society, Health and Development; IT; Construction and the Built Environment; and, Engineering. There are 20 academies involved in successful consortiums, and, as a group, they will contribute to provision across all five diplomas. Each of the diplomas will be piloted for three academic years following its introduction.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the evidential basis was for the statement in the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's 2006 Annual Review that there is a broad consensus on the purposes, values and aims for the curriculum. 
Jim Knight: The statement in the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's Annual Review was based on an extensive informal consultation on the purposes, values and aims for the curriculum with a wide variety of groups. This included some 45,000 teachers and headteachers; 1,000 professionals from local authorities; 2,000 pupils and around 3,000 other stakeholders.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether research has been funded
by (a) his Department and (b) the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority on the empirical validity of the zone of proximal development concept referred to by the Chief Executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in his speech of 21 March. 
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average (a) contextualised value-added scores and (b) value-added scores were in each (i) selective, (ii) partially selective and (iii) comprehensive local education authority according to the most recent available figures. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 22 March 2006] : Information on the key stage 2-4 contextualised value- added measures for 2005/06 by local authority and their admissions policy is shown in the following table.
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