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16 Apr 2007 : Column 306W—continued

Pupils: Absenteeism

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which five local education authorities have the (a) highest and (b) lowest unauthorised absence rates for secondary school pupils. [131012]


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Jim Knight: The answer to this request is shown in the following tables:

Five Local Authorities with the Lowest Rates of Unauthorised Absence
Local Authority( 1) Unauthorised Absence

London, City of

0.03

Isles of Scilly

0.21

Rutland

0.22

Harrow

0.27

East Riding of Yorkshire

0.32

(1) The figures by LA relate to maintained primary and secondary schools, excluding maintained special schools, academies and CTCs.

Five Local Authorities with the Highest Rates of Unauthorised Absence
Local Authority( 1) Unauthorised Absence

Tower Hamlets

1.61

Kingston upon Hull, City of

1.63

Bradford

1.66

Manchester

1.84

Greenwich

1.97

(1) The figures by LA relate to maintained primary and secondary schools, excluding maintained special schools, academies and CTCs.

Unauthorised absence is absence without leave from a teacher or other authorised representative of the school. This includes all unexplained or unjustified absences, such as lateness, holidays during term time not authorised by the school, absence where reason is not yet established and truancy.

Further information on pupil absence in schools can be found in the Statistical First Release, “Pupil Absence in Schools in England: 2005/06” which can be found at:

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many and what percentage of half days were missed due to unauthorised absences among pupils in the 10 per cent. of (a) primary and (b) secondary schools with the (i) highest and (ii) lowest levels of free school meal entitlement in (A) 2006 and (B) 1997; [131288]

(2) how many pupils recorded at least one half day of unauthorised absence in the 10 per cent. of schools with the (a) highest and (b) lowest levels of free school meal entitlement in (i) 2006 and (ii) 1997. [131297]

Jim Knight: The information requested can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Pupils: Eyesight

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with the Department of Health on (a) the Schools Medical Service and (b) eye checks for children. [130821]

Jim Knight: DfES Ministers have had no meetings with the DH on these topics. We have no plans to press for more eye screening in school-age children, because there is no evidence to support such a move.

Local health services must do one medical check at some point in childhood (usually around age four, not
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necessarily at school). These normally pick up any eye problems. In addition, DH provides free eye checks for children and recommends that parents take advantage of these if their child experiences a difficulty. We believe these measures are sufficient.

We suggest that teachers who have any cause for concern over a child's eyesight should raise these concerns with the parents/carers.

Pupils: Bullying

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much his Department has spent on anti-bullying measures since 1997. [131708]

Jim Knight: The figures for the anti-bullying strand of the Improving Behaviour and Attendance strategy, which is used centrally to support schools and local authorities in their anti-bullying work, are given as follows:

Spend on anti-bullying (£)

2002/03

184,000

2003/04

1,054,000

2004/05

1,613,000

2005/06

1,145,000

2006/07

1,400,000


Figures for earlier years are not available because the anti-bullying strand of behaviour work was not disaggregated. Other funding on behaviour and attendance may also have an effect on reducing bullying but is not used exclusively to combat bullying.

Schools: Clothing

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the possible introduction of formal guidelines governing religious dress in schools. [129874]

Jim Knight [holding answer 28 March 2007]: The Department has not made an assessment of the possible introduction of formal guidelines on religious dress, as governing bodies determine school uniform and dress codes under powers conferred by the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. We issue non-statutory guidance to schools, reminding them of their responsibilities under the Human Rights Act 1998 and anti-discrimination legislation. The guidance also states that schools should be sensitive to pupil's cultural and religious needs and differences and must ensure that their uniform policies are fair and reasonable.

Schools: Complaints

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what appeals process is in place for parents who wish to appeal against the (a) content and (b) operation of a school’s complaints procedure. [127414]

Jim Knight: Parents with concerns about the content and operation of a school’s complaints procedure can appeal to the Secretary of State. He has powers under
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Sections 496 and 497 of the Education Act 1996 to intervene in cases where a governing body has acted unlawfully or “unreasonably”, which is defined as conduct which no sensible authority or governing body, acting with due appreciation of its legal responsibilities, would have decided to adopt. Section 496 empowers the Secretary of State, where he is satisfied that a governing body has acted unreasonably with respect to the exercise of a power or the performance of a duty, to give such directions as to the exercise of the power or performance of duty as appear to him expedient.

Schools: Energy

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average cost was of energy usage for an (a) primary school, (b) secondary school and (c) academy in 2005-06. [120895]

Jim Knight [holding answer 19 February 2007]: In 2005-06 an average primary school spent £39 per pupil on energy and an average secondary school spent £56 per pupil. Of the 27 academies open in 2005/06 energy cost figures for 11 academies that were fully occupied are available. The average energy cost of these 11 academies was £84 per pupil.

Reasons for academies consuming more energy than the average secondary school include:

Significant changes to building regulations were introduced in 2006 requiring a 40 per cent. reduction in carbon emissions compared with those built under the 2002 building regulations. Academies now being designed and built will consume less energy than those open in 2005/06.

Schools: Teenage Pregnancy

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research has been (a) funded and (b) carried out by his Department into the effects of improving the ethos of schools on the rate of (i) teenage pregnancies and (ii) drug abuse; when his Department last undertook an evidence review on the issue that drew on (A) UK and (B) international research; and if he will make a statement. [130837]

Beverley Hughes: No specific research has been commissioned by DfES that looks explicitly at how a school's ethos impacts on the rate of teenage pregnancies or substance misuse.

There is, however, evidence that schools have an important role in tackling the underlying causes of both teenage pregnancy and substance misuse, in particular through their role in raising young people's aspirations and improving their educational attainment. Research by Hosie A & Dawson N (2005): “The Education of Pregnant Young Women and Young Mothers”, reports that dislike of school was shown to have a strong independent effect on the risk of teenage pregnancy. This important finding is reflected in the DfES publication, “Teenage Pregnancy: Accelerating the Strategy to 2010”, sent to all local authorities in September 2006.


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Schools: Transport

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the cost of providing transport for pupils attending denominational schools in (a) Eastbourne and (b) East Sussex was in each of the last five years. [130936]

Jim Knight: The Department does not collect this information.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what maximum daily journey time is recommended by his Department for a pupil between home and school by (a) bus, (b) car and (c) train; [131193]

(2) what guidance on best practice officials provide to local education authorities on maximum school journey times; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [131194]

Jim Knight: On 11 March the Department completed a consultation on draft Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance. The draft did not recommend specific home to school journey times, as we consider that reasonable journey times will depend on a number of factors, including the age and any individual needs of a child. Our guidance suggests that the maximum journey duration for a child of primary school age could be 45 minutes, while a journey of up to 75 minutes could be appropriate for a child of secondary school age. A child's special educational needs and/or disability might indicate a shorter maximum journey time.

As soon as a printed version of the new guidance is available we will place a copy in the Library.

Secondary Education: Curriculum

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2007, Official Report, column 1480W, on secondary education: curriculum, whether he expects schools to evaluate the effectiveness of any innovative curriculum plan they undertake. [126009]

Jim Knight: We fully expect that schools will want to evaluate the effectiveness of any innovative curriculum planning they undertake.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many responses had the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority received to the secondary curriculum review consultation on (a) the programme of study and (b) the supporting materials from (i) teachers,(ii) parents and (iii) pupils as of 21 March. [130309]

Jim Knight: The secondary curriculum review consultation will run until 30 April 2007.

In the first four weeks there have been approximately 230,000 hits on the website and about 2,000 people have participated in the on-line consultation. At this time no analysis has been made as to the category of respondent or the breakdown between responses to the programmes of study and the supporting materials.


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Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which schools were used as case studies for personal development on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority secondary curriculum review website. [130313]

Jim Knight: All schools that submitted case studies to the secondary curriculum website were given the option of being identified by name.

In the section of the website that covers personal development, Gaynes School Language College was the only institution which chose to be named.

Secondary Education: Teaching Methods

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment is made by Ofsted during its regular inspections of state secondary schools on the provision of field visits. [130222]

Jim Knight: This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to my hon. Friend and a copy of her reply has been placed in the House Library.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 2 April 2007:

Special Educational Needs: Expenditure

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what the costs to local education authorities, excluding the costs of preparation for cases before tribunals, of providing for special educational needs were in the last year for which figures are available; [130507]

(2) what the costs to local education authorities, excluding the costs of preparation for cases before tribunals, of providing for special educational needs out of area were in the last year for which figures are available. [130508]

Jim Knight [holding answer 29 March 2007]: Tables have been placed in the House Library showing:


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