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26 July 2007 : Column 1409W—continued


Schools: Uniforms

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he expects to issue guidance to schools on the supply of school uniforms following the Office of Fair Trading investigation; and what schools will be covered by the guidance. [151708]

Jim Knight: The Department plans to publish updated guidance on school uniforms and related policies by the end of September 2007. This guidance will be available to all schools in England and provides advice on how to develop fair and reasonable school uniform policies.

Schools: York

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the capital investment in schools in City of York was in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07. [152190]

Jim Knight: School capital allocations to the City of York in (a) 2005-06 were £8.7 million, including additional Targeted Capital Funding (TCP) of £3.1 million, and (b) in 2006-07 £28.5 million, including additional TCF funding of £22.2 million.

Investment in each year may differ from allocation figures due to (a) timing differences regarding spend (b) other resources available to the local authority and (c) priorities agreed locally. The Department does maintain records of investment centrally.

Secondary Education

John Penrose: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will make a statement on the future of the 14 to 19 Education and Skills Agenda. [152573]


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Jim Knight: 14-19 remains a key priority for the Department for Children, Schools and Families. We want to ensure that all young people are prepared by their education and training for success in life. Immediately this means that we must raise participation at 17, cut the proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) and raise attainment at 19. We have stretching targets in all these areas and will be introducing legislation to make participation in education or training compulsory up to the age of 18. In parallel, we are reforming curriculum and qualifications to make them more engaging and more relevant to the needs of the economy; and building a system of schools, colleges and other providers working collaboratively to deliver the reformed curriculum effectively.

The new Department will give us an even stronger focus on meeting all the needs of young people and their families in a more coherent way and to give them the best possible start in life. Our 14-19 reforms are absolutely key to this ambition.

Secondary Education: Colchester

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the answer of 16 July 2007, Official Report, column 124W, on which dates between 1 January and 22 May 2007 senior officials from his Department met officers from Essex County Council to discuss secondary school provision in Colchester. [152008]

Jim Knight [holding answer 23 July 2007]: Senior officials met officers from Essex county council on 5 January, 22 January, 12 February and 28 February. A number of issues was discussed, including secondary education in Colchester.

Secondary Education: Curriculum

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the evidential basis was for the statement by the Chief Executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority that critics of the new secondary curriculum see education as a winnowing device to sort the wheat from the chaff in his recent speech on the curriculum. [151814]

Jim Knight: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Chief Executive’s comments were not directed specifically at ‘critics’ of the secondary curriculum. They were general comments on a particular view of education which he has expressed a number of times.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what evidential basis there is for the statements by the Chief Executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority that the new approach to the secondary curriculum will (a) give every young person the best preparation for life, (b) maximise the achievement of each individual and (c) support social mobility in his recent speech on the curriculum. [151815]

Jim Knight: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has an ongoing remit to monitor the national curriculum and draws on a wide range of research evidence to do so. This includes research and reports produced by partner bodies such as Ofsted and specialist subject and
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professional associations, as well as international work, through INCA (the International Review of Curriculum and Assessment frameworks Internet Archive).

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what international research evidence demonstrates that the new curriculum is the key to growth in educational performance as referred to by the Chief Executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in his recent speech on the curriculum; [151816]

(2) pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2007, Official Report, column 333W, on secondary education: curriculum, which countries were identified by the international comparisons carried out by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority as having adopted an approach to the curriculum similar to that adopted in the new secondary curriculum; [151899]

(3) pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2007, Official Report, column 333W, on secondary education: curriculum, if he will place in the Library the results of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority’s international comparisons on curriculum in relation to the secondary curriculum review. [151900]

Jim Knight: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority uses the International Review of Curriculum and Assessment frameworks Internet Archive (INCA), which it funds, in order to make its international comparisons. This provides descriptions of government policy on education in Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA and Wales.

Many countries included in the INCA review have chosen a National Curriculum which minimises the amount of prescription and maximises flexibility for teachers. These include, for example, Finland, which frequently performs best in international comparisons of educational performance.

A summary of international curriculum comparisons, made at the time of the review, where applicable, will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2007, Official Report, column 335W, on secondary education: curriculum, for what reasons parents were not specifically consulted on the content of the new programmes of study for the National Curriculum. [151898]

Jim Knight: Parents, like all other groups, had an opportunity to comment on the content of the new programmes of study as part of the secondary curriculum consultation exercise.

A total of 10,613 people had direct contact with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority regarding the content of the new curriculum through conferences, workshop events (including two specifically for parents), and an online questionnaire. There were 1,891 responses to the online consultation alone. Among those invited to the launch of the new curriculum were parenting groups including the National Family and Parenting Institute and Parentline Plus.


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Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether assessments for the third key stage will assess factual knowledge not explicitly identified in the new programmes of study for the secondary curriculum. [151902]

Jim Knight: The national curriculum programmes of study prescribe the fundamental body of knowledge, skills and understanding which every pupil should acquire during Key Stage 3. The assessments developed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority—through the National Assessment Agency and its test development agencies—require pupils, through application, to demonstrate that they have acquired that knowledge, skills and understanding, as part of the range of factual knowledge that teachers will now have the flexibility to teach.

Secondary Education: Free School Meals

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of pupils at the top performing 100 secondary schools qualify for free school meals; what proportion of pupils in their catchment areas were eligible for free school meals; and if he will make a statement. [150686]

Jim Knight: In 2006, the proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals in the top 100 secondary schools (excluding independent schools) based on the percentage of pupils achieving five or more A* to C (including English and maths) was 1.7 per cent. This percentage excludes pupils aged 16 and over.

The equivalent national percentage for all secondary schools (excluding independent schools) was 14.7 per cent.

Catchment areas are set locally. Data on school catchment areas are not held centrally.

Secondary Education: Rural Areas

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his Department’s policy is on the retention of high schools in rural and remote areas with school rolls of less than 500. [152905]

Jim Knight: Responsibility for the overall planning of school places rests with local authorities and we expect them to ensure that school places are where parents want them. As part of this they also need to promote high educational standards, ensure fair access to educational opportunity and promote the fulfilment of every child’s educational potential. They must also ensure that there are sufficient schools in their area and promote diversity and increase parental choice.

The Department’s statutory guidance to local authorities and the schools adjudicator, who are responsible for deciding specific proposals to reorganise schools, contains a presumption against the closure of rural schools. Although this does not mean that no rural school will ever close, the case for closure needs to be strong and clearly in the best interests of education provision in the area.


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Secondary Education: Standards

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department is taking to raise standards in secondary schools. [152748]

Jim Knight: Standards in secondary schools have risen dramatically since 1997. Record numbers of 16-year-olds are now achieving five good GCSEs.

Over 86,000 more pupils achieved five good GCSEs last year compared with 1997 and 62,000 more achieved five good GCSEs including English and maths compared with 1997. In total over 375,000 more young people have gained five or more good GCSEs over the period 1997 to 2006.

This is as a result of a number of factors, as set out in my reply to PQ119851 on 19 February 2007. I would like to draw particular attention to challenge and support through the secondary National Strategy; of swift and targeted intervention to tackle school failure; more effective use of data by schools and local authorities, helping to track and monitor the progress of pupils; and a system within which schools and local authorities are setting ambitious targets for their pupils.

The new secondary curriculum, to be introduced from 2008, will raise standards further still. Less prescription will allow for more time in the school day to concentrate on English and maths, particularly where pupils are struggling with literacy and numeracy. It will also allow schools to personalise learning in order to make teaching more engaging.

Sixth-form Colleges

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether his Department has lead responsibility for sixth form colleges; what role the Learning and Skills Council has in overseeing their work; what role it will have in the future; and if he will make a statement. [152429]

Jim Knight: The Department for Children, Schools and Families has responsibility for school sixth forms and sixth-form colleges within its wider responsibility for policy and funding for the education of children and young people up to age 19. The new Department will work closely with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills to ensure the successful delivery of our 14-19 reform programme through schools, colleges and training providers.

The changes to planning and funding for post-16 education that were announced in June 2007 will be subject to consultation and will require new legislation. I estimate that we will not be able to give effect to the full legislative changes until the academic year 2010-11. Until then, the LSC will retain the legal responsibility for securing and funding all forms of post-16 education and training outside higher education, including sixth-form colleges. It will continue to work with the FE sector as a whole to raise standards and to ensure that it plays a full and effective part in driving forward our 14-19 reform agenda.

Government policy is to foster more sixth-form colleges; they do an outstanding job and are generally popular with students and parents. The same is true of larger
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school sixth forms, formed either by an individual school or a consortium. To overcome England’s unacceptably low education participation rate beyond GCSE, more provision will be required of both types, working in partnership with other local providers to provide a wide range of high quality opportunities for learners aged 14-19.

Special Educational Needs

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the average number of special educational needs pupils in class in each local education authority was in each of the last 10 years. [151241]

Jim Knight: The requested information is not collected centrally.

Special Educational Needs: Assessments

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the average SATS test scores of special educational needs pupils taught at (a) special schools and (b) mainstream schools were in each of the last 10 years. [151687]

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

Special Educational Needs: Lone Parents

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many pupils with special educational needs statements in each (a) local education authority and (b) type of school came from single parent homes in each of the last 10 years, broken down by category of special needs. [151203]

Jim Knight: The requested information is not collected centrally.

Students: Lone Parents

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many students in each (a) local education authority and (b) type of school came from single parent families in each of the last 10 years. [151165]

Jim Knight: The requested information is not collected centrally.

Sure Start Programme: York

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much has been spent on Sure Start in York; and how many parents have participated. [152189]

Beverley Hughes: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given earlier today at DCSF oral questions.

Teachers: Early Retirement

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what research has been undertaken by his Department on the rate of and factors behind teachers retiring early from leadership positions within schools. [151994]


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Jim Knight [holding answer 23 July 2007]: The latest figures show that in 2005-06, there were 2,870 retirement awards made to teachers whose last known employment was in the leadership group in a maintained school in England. Of these, 500 (17 per cent.) were premature retirements, 1,210 (42 per cent.) received actuarially reduced benefits, 250 (9 per cent.) were ill-health retirements and the remaining 910 (32 per cent.) were age retirements. (Source: Database of Teacher Records and the Pensioner Statistical System (PENSTATS)). These figures were published in December 2006 and can be found at


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