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Kevin Brennan: A ring-fenced grant totalling nearly £70 million was made available to local authorities between 2003-04 and 2005-06 to help them meet their duties in relation to the provision of adoption support and special guardianship support services under the Adoption and Children Act 2002. This grant has now been mainstreamed into the Childrens Services Grant.
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what his Departments involvement was in the decision to build Bishops Park College in Clacton; and if he will make a statement; 
Jim Knight: Building Schools for the Future (BSF) is a core part of the Department's capital strategy, providing a new approach to capital investment in secondary schools. The programme was launched in 2004 and the first school opened in 2006.
Bishops Park College, Clacton, was not built as part of BSF. The school opened in 2002 in temporary accommodation and moved to new buildings, funded through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), in 2005.
Local authorities are responsible for planning provision in their areas. The Secretary of State had no role in deciding the proposals to establish this school. However, as with other schools PFI projects, the Department did review and approve Essex County Councils bid for this project in 2000, the outline business case in 2001, and the final business case in 2003.
The original expression of interest was assessed by officials against the published criteria at the time. These criteria included the sufficiency, condition and suitability of existing facilities, wider Departmental priorities and initiatives, and wider Government priorities and objectives. The project was prioritised for funding on this basis, but it remained the local authoritys responsibility to develop the project and demonstrate its viability.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what average length of time was taken for preparation of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service welfare reports in each of the last five years; 
Kevin Brennan: These are matters for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). Anthony Douglas, the Chief Executive, has written to the hon. Member with this information and a copy of his letter has been placed in the House Library.
I am writing to you in response to the three Parliamentary Questions that you tabled recently:
15001To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, what average length of time was taken for preparation of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service welfare reports in each of the last five years.
In 2006/07 the average public law case duration was 43 weeks and the average private law report duration was 17 weeks. 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.
150002To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, how many people were employed by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in each of the last five years.
The table below details the number of staff Cafcass has employed over the last 5 years.
|Date||Headcount||Full Time Equivalent||Headcount||Full Time Equivalent|
150003To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, how many cases were dealt with by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in each of the last five years.
The table below details the Cafcass workload over in the last 5 years, for the major categories of referral. The table demonstrates the steady rise in public law care cases, and the steady decrease in private law reports, strongly linked to the expansion of our dispute resolution services.
|(1) Scheme not yet in place|
The above figures cannot be totalled as some of the categories use different measurements. The figures for Public Law Care and Public Law Other are counted as cases, Private Law figures are counted as reports (of which there can be many per case), and Dispute Resolution figures are counted in practitioner hours. Also included are counts of Family Assistance Order and Rule 9.5 cases. The figures have been grouped together in a table to provide an overview of Cafcass work for the past 5 years.
A copy of this reply will be placed in the House Library.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what the ratio of staff to cases in (a) public and (b) private law is at the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service; 
Kevin Brennan: 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.
149742To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, what the ratio of staff to cases in (a) public and (b) private law is at the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.
Cafcass does not categorise practitioners in this way. All Cafcass practitioners are qualified to work on both public and private law cases and, because of variations in demand in any local area at any given point in time, this is essential to ensure capacity to cover all types of cases. Local demand can vary by up to 20% in any type of case in a year. We are developing new services such as duty schemes, and extending our dispute resolution (DR) schemes, evidenced by the increase in DR hours during 2006/07: a rise in 33.6%. Currently Cafcass has 1340 employed practitioners who may complete either around 55 private law cases a year, or around 12 public law cases or work on dispute resolution or extended dispute resolution which we measure in hours worked. In addition Cafcass has access to self-employed contractors and staff registered on a bank scheme. These are used as budget permits to cover peaks in referrals.
149749To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, by what means the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service monitors the effectiveness of its interventions.
Cafcass has a quality assurance system in which we assure all aspects of our work on an ongoing basis. We have recently implemented a new electronic case management system, which will help to track cases if they return to court. We are monitoring the effectiveness of our dispute resolution work by tracking how many of our dispute resolution interventions result in partial or complete agreement being reached or are referred for section 7 reports. Based on a sample of Feb/March 2007 data, only 20.7 % of section 8 referred for dispute resolution were not resolved at least in part and referred for a section 7 report.
Feedback from Service users is part of our quality assurance system and helps us to know how effective our interventions have been. Cafcass relies on a mixture of service user (including children) feedback and external research. Over 250 children have used our online feedback system and reported very high satisfaction rates. All work is quality assured to ensure that it is of a good standard and meets Cafcass National Standards and Cafcass policies. Practitioners also receive one to one supervision from their line manager and an annual appraisal.
A copy of this reply will be placed in the House Library.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans he has to simplify the system for the provision of care for adopted children with learning, behavioural or mental problems. 
Kevin Brennan: The Adoption Support Services Regulations 2005 require local authorities to make a range of adoption support services available in their area to meet the needs of people affected by adoption.
Adoption support services include: financial support; discussion groups; assistance in relation to contact (including mediation services); therapeutic services for adoptive children; assistance to maintain the relationship between an adoptive child and his
adoptive parent (including training for adoptive parents to meet any special needs of the child and respite care); assistance where disruption has occurred, or is in danger of occurring; and counselling, advice and information.
In addition, local authorities are required to appoint an Adoption Support Services Adviser (ASSA). The role of the adviser is to give advice and information to those affected by adoption regarding the services that are available within their area and how those services can be accessed.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the average pupil-to-teacher ratio in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in York was in each year since 2004. 
|Pupil: teacher ratios in local authority maintained primary and secondary schools in York local authority, January 2004 to 2006|
|As of January:||Primary||Secondary|
PTRs are calculated by dividing the total FTE number of pupils on roll in schools by the total FTE number of qualified teachers regularly employed in schools.
DCSF School Census.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether (a) his Department and its predecessor and (b) its agencies have made payments to Flint Bishop solicitors since 1997. 
Kevin Brennan: I can confirm that the Department for Children, Schools and Families and its predecessor the Department for Education and Skills have no record of any payments to Flint Bishop solicitors during the last seven years. The Department does not hold data prior to financial year 1999-2000.
In 2006-07, there were two performance categories for DfES staff whose performance was not deemed to be at an acceptable level and therefore an improvement plan or management action was required. In total, there were 111 staff who met this criteria in 2006-07, this equated to 3 per cent. of our work force.
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