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19 Jun 2007 : Column 1698W—continued


Children in Care: Death

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will put in place arrangements for collecting centrally details of all fatalities of young people in (a) foster and (b) residential care that take place in England. [143861]

Beverley Hughes: Both fostering service providers and the providers of children’s homes are already required to notify the Secretary of State of particular events, including the death of a looked after child in their care.

However, in order to monitor and investigate child deaths more effectively, the Government are putting in place new child death review processes which will be the responsibility of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs). Reviewing deaths will become mandatory in April 2008 though LSCBs have been able to do this since 2006. These arrangements include children in foster care and residential care.

There are two elements to the child death review process: firstly, a rapid response by a group of professionals who are responsible for inquiring into and evaluating each unexpected death of a child; secondly, the review of deaths of all children in the local authority area through Child Death Overview Panels (CDOPs). CDOPs will identify any trends or patterns in these deaths. This information will be used by LSCBs to prevent or avoid such deaths in the future. It will inform local strategic planning for children’s services and policy at a local and national level. Detailed guidance on how these procedures work is set out in ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (2006).


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Children in Care: Standards

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the LILAC (Leading improvements for looked-after children) scheme for involving care-experienced young people in the inspections of local authority's care services. [142310]

Mr. Dhanda: I understand that an evaluation report of the LILAC scheme by A National Voice will be published shortly. We are fully committed to the policy of ensuring that young people in care are actively involved in the care planning process. The recent Green Paper, ‘Care Matters: transforming the lives of children and young people in care’, contains a range of proposals that aim to give young people a voice and more control over their lives while in care.

Council for Disabled Children

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he expects the Council for Disabled Children to publish its good practice guidance on transition; and if he will make a statement. [143409]

Mr. Dhanda: We intend that the Transition Support Programme will be piloted from 2008-09. Work is in progress on developing the pilots and more details will be available later this year. No decision has yet been taken on what parts of the country the pilots will take place.

The Council for Disabled Children has produced draft guidance on transition which will be published by the Department later this summer.

Children: Work Permits

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what plans he has to publicise the requirements for work permits for child employment; [143272]

(2) how many children who require work permits his Department estimates are in employment; [143273]

(3) whether the Head of Children’s Services in a local authority is formally accountable for the implementation of child employment policy in that authority; and if he will bring forward proposals to require a named member to also have special responsibility. [143761]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer s 15 June 2007]: In 2005, the Government published “Statutory guidance on the roles and responsibilities of the Director of Children’s Services and Lead Member for Children’s Services”. This guidance is clear that local authorities’ functions relating to child employment under section 559 of the Education Act 1996 and sections 18(2) and 37 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 fall within the Director of Children’s Services areas of responsibility by virtue of section 18(2)(a) of the Children Act 2004. Directors of Children’s Services are accountable to the elected members of their authorities for all aspects of their work.

Local authorities are responsible for granting child employment permits and for the enforcement of child
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employment legislation, including explaining and publicising its requirements. Information is not collected centrally about the numbers of children who require employment permits. The Government plan to help local authorities, employers, young people and other stakeholders to understand and operate the system by producing clear guidance.

Classroom Assistants: Visually Impaired

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to ensure that there is a sufficient number of qualified teaching assistants able to help those children with a visual impairment. [133825]

Mr. Dhanda: Decisions on the number and deployment of teaching assistants are matters for local determination by individual schools and their local authorities.

All schools receive a School Development Grant which they are able to use to support improvements in any aspect of teaching and learning. This can be used to support staff training, including sending teaching assistants on specialised training courses. Local authorities may retain a proportion of this grant, in certain circumstances, to provide specific training and development in relation to special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities.

Support staff, including teaching assistants, play an important role in schools, often working closely with pupils with SEN and disabilities. In recognition of this, the Training and Development Agency for Schools, which now has responsibility for support staff training and development, has developed national occupational standards for teachers/classroom assistants to cover roles that support teaching and learning in schools. The revised standards have been strengthened to reflect the role of teaching assistants working with pupils with additional needs, including those with sensory impairment. Induction training material on SEN for teaching assistants working in both primary and secondary schools is also available, as is introductory training for other support staff, which contains a discrete module covering SEN and disabilities.

The standards for higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs), for which the TDA is also responsible, require HLTAs to know how to support learners in accessing the curriculum, in accordance with the SEN Code of Practice and disability legislation.

Departments: Delivery Unit

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills in which (a) policy areas and (b) projects his Department is (i) receiving support or advice from the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and (ii) has received such support or advice over the last 12 months. [137065]

Mr. Dhanda: The Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) works with my Department in the following policy areas: primary and secondary school standards; attendance and behaviour; targeted youth support; attainment at 19; those not in education, training or employment (NEETs); academies; trust schools; and extended schools. With regard to projects my
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Department has received support from the PMDU on over the last 12 months, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 4 June 2007, Official Report, column 116W. The PMDU is currently working with the Department on the impact of School Improvement Partners on raising standards.

Departments: Energy

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what strategy he has put in place for (a) the use of renewable energy and (b) meeting energy targets in his Department’s buildings; and if he will make a statement. [125407]

Mr. Dhanda: DFES has recently introduced a Sustainable Operations Management System (SOMS), to help it meet the framework for Sustainable Development in Government’s (SDiG) renewable energy and energy reduction targets on its office estate.

As part of DFES strategy within the SOMS and supporting action plans, DFES will conduct a feasibility study into on-site low and zero carbon heat and power generation systems. This will include a cost benefit analysis for sourcing more energy from renewables.

As part of DFES strategy within the SOMS and supporting action plans, DFES will set annual targets to meet SDiG energy efficiency targets, developing and communicating energy protocols incorporating short and long term energy management improvement actions (including Carbon Trust identified actions) and energy monitoring programmes to report on energy usage and trends.

Departments: Food

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department has taken in response to the National Audit Office Report Smarter Food Procurement by the Public Sector. [142754]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 14 June 2007]: The Department worked closely with the National Audit Office (NAO) in establishing the facts published in its report ‘Smarter Food Procurement in the Public Sector’ and has consulted the NAO in taking forward action on the report's recommendations. It is also working closely with the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the School Food Trust and the North East Centre of Excellence in taking forward the report's recommendations. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held a hearing on the NAO report on 11 October 2006 and published their report on 30 March 2007 (the 13th Report of the Public Accounts Committee). Details of the work being taken by this Department and other Government Departments in response to the PAC report is set out in the Treasury Minute published on 23 May 2007 (Cm 7077).

Departments: Legal Costs

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent by his Department on legal fees in each of the last five years. [139402]


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Mr. Dhanda: The Department for Education and Skills spent £172,043 in 2002-03, £275,523 in 2003-04, £243,286 in 2004-05, £250,815 in 2005-06 and £192,594 in 2006-07 on external legal services (i.e. advice and some litigation services). The figures have been rounded to the nearest pound.

Departments: Manpower

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many staff funded by the public purse in his Department are classified as people without posts. [137718]

Mr. Dhanda: There are currently 61 members of staff who are without a permanent post in my Department. This number is broken down by site and grade as follows:

Darlington London Runcorn Sheffield G/O Total

EA

0

12

1

8

0

21

EO

0

10

4

3

0

17

HEO

0

1

0

2

1

4

SEO

0

3

0

2

0

5

G7

0

5

1

3

0

9

G6

0

2

0

3

0

5

Total

0

33

6

21

1

61


When staff find themselves without a permanent post, they are supported by their line manager and HR, and are deployed on projects or other meaningful work until they secure a permanent post. Our expectation is that all displaced staff will find a new post within a three month period.

Departments: Official Cars

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what visits he has made involving a mix of political and official engagements where Government Car Service vehicles were used in 2007; and whether the Government was reimbursed a proportion of the cost in each case. [142643]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 14 June 2007]: All travel is undertaken in accordance with Travel by Ministers and the Ministerial Code, copies of which are available in the House Library.

Departments: Pay

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many staff in his Department received bonus payments in 2006-07; what proportion of the total workforce they represented; what the total amount of bonuses paid was; what the largest single payment was; and if he will make a statement. [143101]

Mr. Dhanda: Information for Executive Assistant to Grade 6 bonus payments received in 2006-07 is not yet available. Members of the Senior Civil Service will not receive their bonus payments until November 2007.

For my Department’s most up to date information, I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 8 November 2006, Official Report, column 1706W.


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Departments: Postal Services

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which postal companies handle mail dispatched by his Department and its agencies. [128244]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department for Education and Skills use the following postal companies to handle mail dispatched from its head office buildings.

The Department could provide information in respect of its agencies only at a disproportionate cost.

Departments: Publicity

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which (a) advertising agencies and (b) other organisations supplied consultancy services for advertising campaigns for (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies in each of the last five years; and what the cost of these services was. [139434]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department for Education and Skills uses the Central Office of Information (COI) for “above the line” advertising campaigns; it does not keep separate information centrally on any subcontracted consultancy services that COI may employ relating to any advertising campaigns. The Department contracts with agencies for "below the line" publicity, including design agencies and PR agencies—but these are for services such as design and PR services, not consultancy.

The Department for Education and Skills does not have any agencies.


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