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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the local authorities which have expressed an interest in sponsoring an academy; and what progress has been made with each expression of interest. 
Jim Knight: Sunderland city council, Manchester city council, Kent county council, Coventry city council and the Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea have all signed a formal Expression of Interest as a part sponsor of one or more academy projects. In each case the council proposed to become part-sponsor but with the non-state sponsor appointing a majority of the governors and taking responsibility for the governance of the academy, as is required under the academies programme even when a local authority is part sponsor. It is not permitted that the local authority appoint more than two governors or play the leading role in the academy governance.
Once a formal Expression of Interest has been signed and approved by Ministers there are two further stages in the development of an academy before it opensa feasibility stage during which the project team prepares detailed plans, including an educational vision and model, and formally consults with the local community; and an implementation stage during which detailed plans for school improvement are developed by all the stakeholders, and any necessary building work is carried out. Sunderland city councils interest is in three academies, all of which have entered their feasibility stage. Manchester city council has signed an Expression of Interest for a total of seven academies, all of which have entered their feasibility stage. Kent county council has an interest in five projects, of which one is already open and four have entered feasibility. The Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea has signed an Expression of Interest for one academy, which is in its implementation stage. All of the academies have non-state co-sponsors.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teaching assistants are employed within (a) Greater London, (b) the London borough of Havering and (c) Romford, broken down by examining body. 
In January 2006 the full-time equivalent number of teaching assistants employed in maintained nursery, primary, secondary and special schools and pupil referral units in the London Government office region was 22,820, of which 660 were in the London borough of Havering and 190 in Romford constituency. This is the latest information available at constituency, local authority and Government office level.
The purpose of the comprehensive spending review settlement for this Department for 2008-11 is to deliver key priorities for children, young people and
learners. Decisions to be taken over the coming months will permit more detailed announcements to be made in due course about the allocation of resources. The option of continuing to fund Community Champions will need to be considered alongside programmes that more directly impact on outcomes for children and young people.
Mr. Newmark: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the expenditure by his Department on buying, operating and supporting (a) all commercial software products and (b) software products produced by Microsoft was in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Dhanda: The following table gives details of internal running costs expenditure for the initial purchase of (a) commercial software products and (b) Microsoft products. All of the totals are inclusive of VAT. The columns have been sorted by financial year.
|FY||Commercial software products||Microsoft products|
The following table gives details of the costs incurred to maintain and licence software. Unfortunately it is not possible to separate between Microsoft products and non Microsoft products as the information is not readily available. Again all totals are inclusive of VAT.
We are unable to provide any expenditure information which covers operating and supporting either commercial software products or Microsoft software products as this is not identifiable from other costs held in our records.
Other expenditure incurred purchasing software from programme budgets is not readily available within Department for Education and Skills. To respond fully would involve an extensive internal information collection exercise which would exceed the recommended disproportionate cost threshold.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the (a) originally estimated, (b) most recently estimated and (c) outturn cost was of each of the five largest information technology contracts agreed by his Department with outside suppliers in the last five years. 
The information as requested is not readily available centrally within the Department for
Education and Skills. To respond fully would involve an extensive internal information collection exercise which would exceed the recommended disproportionate cost threshold.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which Ministers in his Department have visited India in the last 12 months; on how many occasions each Minister visited India; and what the length was of each visit. 
Mr. Dhanda: This Government publishes an annual list of Cabinet Ministers travel overseas costing over £500 along with the total cost of all ministerial travel. Information for 2005-06 was published on 24 July 2006 and is available in the Library of the House. Information for 2006-07 will be published as soon as it is ready.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people took sick leave for stress in his Department in the last 12 months; and what percentage of the total staff number this represents. 
The figures in the following table are taken from the Departments financial systems for the years in question and cover overseas travel by both Ministers and civil servants. All such travel is undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the Ministerial Code, Travel by Ministers and the Civil Service Management Code, as appropriate. Since 1999 the Government have published, on an annual basis, the total costs of all ministerial overseas travel and a list of all visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500. This information is available in the Library of
the House. Information for the financial year 2005-06 was published on 24 July 2006, Official Report , column 86WS. Information for the financial year 2006-07 is in the process of being collated and will be published shortly.
|Expenditure on o verseas v isits|
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department is taking to liaise with employers on Diplomas for England; and what role is played by employers in the programmes practical portfolio. 
Jim Knight: We are working with national and local employers on both the design of Diplomas and their implementation at a local level. 5,000 employers have been involved in the design of the first five Diploma lines including major corporations such as BT, BSkyB and Sainsbury through Diploma Development Partnerships (DDPs). A large number of employers are also currently involved in the development of the second five Diploma lines and we expect even more will get involved in the development of the final four.
The DDPs also have an important role in engaging both large corporations and local employers in the direct delivery of Diplomas. To this end the DDPs will be running nine regional events in May for local consortia who were successful in the recent Diploma Gateway process and will be offering the first Diplomas in 2008.
Our key partner bodies in education business links, the local Education Business Partnerships, Trident, and others also have a role to play. Between them they have links to at least 300,000 businesses already working with schools and colleges. They are engaging with DDPs, Sector Skills Councils, and local Diploma delivery consortia to help local employers to support Diploma students with work experience placements and other essential work-related input. If Diplomas are genuinely to provide the kind of knowledge, skills and attitudes that employers value, we need them to get involved in supporting all aspects of teaching and learning. The nature of this will depend on each employers capacity and might include providing support materials; sponsoring projects; mentoring young people or simply giving talks on relevant topics. Bill Rammell recently announced improvements that
we are making to the existing infrastructure for supporting work-related learning.
In addition, the Secretary of State has appointed Sir Alan Jones as the Diploma Champion for Employers. Employer to employer promotion of the expected value to business is key in ensuring that we get a high level of employer engagement and active involvement in Diplomas. Sir Alan Jones is already attending a number of events which will enable him to talk to a large number of employers. On 5 June the Secretary of State and Sir Richard Lambert will also host a joint CBI/DfES breakfast event for CEOs focusing on the Diplomas.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department has taken to tackle fraud on the payment of education maintenance allowances to older children; how many staff have been involved; how many fraudulent claims were established; how many prosecutions have been made; and how much has been recovered in each of the last five years. 
Phil Hope [holding answer 8 May 2007]: After extensive piloting, the education maintenance allowance was rolled out nationally from September 2004. In taking the decision to roll out the scheme, the Department ensured there were robust arrangements in place to minimise the risk of fraud.
Responsibility for operating the education maintenance allowance, and maintaining and implementing a strategy for managing the risk of fraud, transferred to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) on 1 April 2005. The LSC have provided a response to these questions as follows:
|Number of fraudulent claims established||Amount recovered (£)|
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many pupils in (a) Tamworth constituency, (b) Staffordshire and (c) the West Midlands have claimed the education maintenance allowance since its introduction. 
Jim Knight: This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council, who operate the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the DfES and hold the information about take-up and payments made under the scheme. Mark Haysom, the councils Chief Executive, has written to my hon. Friend with the information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.
I am writing in response to your recent Parliamentary Question that asked;
How many pupils in (a) Tamworth constituency, (b) Staffordshire and (c) the West Midlands have claimed the education maintenance allowance since its introduction.
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