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We have listened to employers and have involved industry and businesses extensively in the
development of apprenticeships resulting in improvements to apprenticeship frameworks to keep them up-to-date and to make them more flexible. We will be working ever more closely with employer organisations to deliver the planned apprenticeship entitlement and the Leitch UK target of 500,000 apprentices by 2020. Development of new or revised apprenticeship frameworks for each industry are the responsibility of Sector Skills Councils (SSCs). Each SSC is an employer-led, independent organisation that covers a specific sector across the UK and provides employers with a unique forum to express the skills and productivity needs that are pertinent to the sector. Apprenticeship frameworks therefore reflect employer needs and requirements.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children in Hendon participated in the Bookstart programme in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
557 Bookstart baby packs
1,058 Bookstart Plus toddler packs
828 Treasure Chest packs for 3-year-olds
Beverley Hughes: The Government are investing in a wide range of financial support for child care in England. We are investing some £3 billion each year in the delivery of free part-time nursery education so that all three and four-year-olds can benefit from 12.5 hours a week free early years provision, rising to 15 hours a week by 2010.
Further funding to support child care is also provided through the General Sure Start Grant (GSSG). This includes supporting child care for disabled children and children with special educational needs (SEN). The GSSG can be used to provide training to staff, enable early education and child care settings to make adaptations to premises and equipment, provide additional staff and support multi-agency working focused on the needs of individual children for example as developed by the Early Support Programme for disabled children and their parents.
Local authorities have the freedom to decide how much they wish to spend on activity related to disability and SEN within the GSSG based on their knowledge of the local market. In 2007-08, £664 million of revenue funding and £544 million of capital funding is available to local authorities through the GSSG. Local authorities
now have a duty through the Childcare Act 2006 to secure sufficient child care provision in their area for all children with a specific focus on provision that is suitable for disabled children.
Further funding is available to parents through the child tax credit, and the working tax credit, which was introduced in April 2003. The child care element of the working tax credit is designed to help remove the child care barrier that often prevents people taking up or returning to work. It is available for meeting up to 80 per cent. of the cost of registered or approved child care to a maximum childcare cost of £175 a week for families who pay child care for one child and £300 a week for families who pay child care for two children or more. For parents with disabled children, additional funding to help with the costs of child care is provided through the disability living allowance, the carers allowance and the disability and severe disability elements of the child tax credit. A longer period of help is given to families for children with disability.
Child care can be subsidised in a variety of other ways including local authority subsidies, Jobcentre Plus New Deals, Care to Learn, Learner Support Funds and NHS child care allowances. The Department supports initiatives with sector organisations such as the National Portage Association and Kids, to raise awareness and change attitudes towards the delivery of services for disabled children. Parents of disabled children can also apply for direct payments from local authorities in some circumstances.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many people are employed by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS), broken down by (a) part-time and (b) full-time staff; and what the average length of service is of CAFCASS employees; 
(2) what the average length of time taken for a case before the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service officer was in (a) the last 12 months and (b) each of the last five years. 
Mr. Dhanda: These are matters for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). Anthony Douglas, the Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member with this information and a copy of his letter will be placed in the House Library.
I am writing to you in response to the two Parliamentary Questions that you tabled recently.
The table below details the number of part-time and full-time staff CAFCASS currently employs.
In 2006/07, of the cases that CAFCASS closed, the average duration was as follows:
This was the first year CAFCASS could collect these figures, following the introduction of our national case management system. Prior to this, the pre-CAFCASS legacy systems prevented us being able to arrive at a robust national figure.
A copy of this reply will be placed in the House Library.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) successful and (b) unsuccessful appeals have been made to him by parents under sections 496 and 497 of the Education Act 1996 in each year since 1997, broken down by local authority. 
Jim Knight: Data on heard and successful admissions appeals for all local education authorities in England covering the years 1997/98 to 2004/05 (the latest year for which data is available), have been placed in the House Library.
Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the impact of the Learning and Skills Councils proposed star rating on (a) further education and (b) sixth form colleges. 
Phil Hope: The proposed star rating systemthe Framework for Excellence (FfE) and the associated strategies announced in the White Paper Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances will be developed and implemented as part of a coherent and evolving package of reform. The framework aims to improve the quality of post-16 provision and support better-informed choices and decisions by employers and individuals, thereby contributing to better and more relevant outcomes for end users, increasing skill levels in the workforce and increased productivity.
The Framework is in an early stage of development and will be piloted this summer in approximately 100 general FE, 6(th) form colleges and work-based learning providers. It will enable further education institutions to use a single performance management framework, with common sets of data and performance indicators instead of a number of different frameworks. Thus the framework will be more streamlined than existing arrangements and should help to reduce bureaucracy.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms exist for the Office for Fair Access to ensure higher education institutions spend budgeted levels on income-assessed non-repayable bursaries. 
The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) requires institutions in their annual monitoring returns to report on the amount of spend on bursaries and scholarships disbursed to low income and other under-represented groups. OFFA is then under a statutory
duty to provide an annual report to Parliament containing an overview of progress. Monitoring returns are due at the end of the academic year (end of July 2007). OFFA will analyse the returns over the summer and publish a short report on the findings of the monitoring process in autumn/winter 2007.
OFFA has successfully ensured that all institutions that have chosen to set fees above the basic level have successfully completed an access agreement. As a result these institutions are forecast to deliver in excess of £300 million per year in bursaries to students. I am aware that concerns have been raised about a potential underspend on bursaries in some universities. As I said in the Higher Education debate on 15 March 2007:
I have been monitoring that situation very closely. The overall scale of underspend has been exaggerated in some reports. In several universities, including a significant number in the Russell group, the projections are that there will be no underspend at all.
Forecasts of spend inevitably carry with them some uncertainty, especially in the first year of an entirely new bursary scheme, and some universities set a high figure for reasons of prudent financial management. I am not in the business of unfairly or unjustly criticising people. OFFA will monitor expenditure and performance annually, and we will have a full picture of year 1 after the relevant monitoring information has been collected this summer.
At the same time, universities should be doing all they can to ensure that students get the support to which they are entitled. In recent weeks, several vice-chancellors have explicitly said to me that they intend to invest any underspend in their original bursary estimates on other measures to improve social inclusion. One of them told me:
The money for bursaries is budgeted out. If it cannot be spent on bursaries, then it will go to support other widening participation projects.
That is heartening. I would urge all universities forecasting a genuine underspend on bursaries to take that approach. [ Official Report, 15 March 2007; Vol. 458, c.494.]
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) when he will reply to the letter of 19 January from the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead on the account taken of plans for new homes in Hemel Hempstead constituency in determining the closures and amalgamations of schools in the area; 
(2) when he will answer the (a) letter of 19 January 2007 and (b) question of 8 March 2007 for answer on 13 March 2007 from the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead, on the account taken of plans for new homes in Hemel Hempstead constituency in determining the closures and amalgamations of schools in the area. 
Changes to local school organisation, including school closures and amalgamations, require the publication of statutory proposals which are decided under local decision-making arrangements. Ministers have no role. When taking a decision on proposals, the decision maker must have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State. This guidance sets out a range of factors that should be considered for the different types
of proposals. The factors include considering the need for school places, taking into account pupil number projections.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures the Government have in place for monitoring how funds for School Action and School Action Plus are spent; and what systems exist to evaluate the efficacy of the expenditure. 
Beverley Hughes: There is a duty on local authorities to provide an explanation of that element of special educational provision for children with special educational needs (but without statements) which the local authority expects normally to be met from maintained schools budget shares and that element of such provision that the authority expects normally to be met by funds which it holds centrally.
Local authorities must also provide information on the arrangements made by them for auditing, planning, monitoring and reviewing provision for children with special educational needs, both generally and in relation to individual children.
Ofsted school inspections judge the extent to which learners with special educational needs and disabilities make progress, and how effectively and efficiently schools deploy their resources to achieve value for money. Inspectorates area-level assessments and inspections of childrens services cover local authority services for children and young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many and what percentage of pupil referral units were in Ofsted categories (a) special measures and (b) notice to improve in (i) 2006 and (ii) 2007, broken down by local authority; 
(2) how many and what percentage of pupil referral units were in Ofsted categories (a) special measures, (b) serious weaknesses and (c) underachieving in each year since 1997, broken down by local authority. 
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether he plans to discuss removing VAT on school uniforms for over 14-year-olds with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 
Current guidance on school uniform advises governing bodies to give high priority to cost when setting a school uniform policy, and states that no school uniform should be so expensive as to leave pupils or their families feeling socially excluded.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many admissions appeals were (a) heard and (b) successful for pupils in London in each year since 1997, broken down by local education authority. 
Jim Knight: Data on heard and successful admissions appeals for all local education authorities in England, including those for London and covering the years 1997/98 to 2004/05 (the latest year for which data are available), have been placed in the House Library.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the process is for appealing decisions made by the Schools Adjudicator under the Education (New Secondary School Proposals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: The Education Acts do not provide for any appeals against a decision taken by the schools adjudicator. There is accordingly no scope for the Education (New Secondary School Proposals) (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended) to include an appeal process. The adjudicators decision is final and can only be challenged by application to the high court for judicial review. Similarly, the Act provided that where a school organisation committee decided a competition, that decision could only be challenged by application to the High Court for judicial review.
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