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Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many employees in (a) his Department and (b) each (i) executive agency and (ii) non-departmental public body funded by his Department applied to continue to work beyond state retirement age in the latest year or part thereof for which figures are available; and how many of those applications were successful. 
Jim Knight: The Department has no set retirement age for the majority of staff. A retirement age of 65 has been adopted by central Government for the senior civil service (SCS) but members of the SCS can request to work beyond that age.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what the cost of the education maintenance allowance has been in (a) Cheadle constituency, (b) Stockport Metropolitan borough council area, (c) Greater Manchester and (d) England; 
(3) how many people in (a) Cheadle constituency, (b) Stockport Metropolitan borough council area, (c) Greater Manchester and (d) England have received the (i) £10, (ii) £20 and (ii) £30 education maintenance allowance; 
(4) what percentage of 16 to 19-year-olds in (a) Cheadle constituency, (b) Stockport Metropolitan borough council area, (c) Greater Manchester and (d) England have applied for an education maintenance allowance; 
(5) what percentage of 16 to 19-year-olds in (a) Cheadle constituency, (b) Stockport Metropolitan borough council area, (c) Greater Manchester and (d) England have received the (i) £10, (ii) £20 and (iii) £30 education maintenance allowance; 
(6) what percentage of applications for an education maintenance allowance have been successful in (a) Cheadle constituency, (b) Stockport Metropolitan borough council area, (c) Greater Manchester and (d) England. 
Jim Knight: These are all matters for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), who operate the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and hold the information about take-up and payments under the scheme. Mark Haysom, the councils Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department has taken to advertise and raise awareness of the education maintenance allowance; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: This is a matter for tie Learning and Skills Council (LSC), who operate and have responsibility for advertising and raising awareness of the education maintenance allowance (EMA) scheme for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). Mark Haysom, the councils Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many young people in (a) Leeds West constituency and (b) Leeds have been granted an education maintenance allowance since its inception. 
Jim Knight: This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), who operate the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and hold the information about take-up and payments made under the scheme. Mark Haysom, the LSCs Chief Executive will write to my right hon. Friend with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.
Jim Knight [holding answer 18 October 2007]: This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), who operate the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and hold the information about take-up and payments made under the scheme. Mark Haysom, the LSCs Chief Executive, will write to my hon. Friend with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what assessment (a) his Department and (b) the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has made of the time taken in preparing for Key Stage Two tests in year 6 in the months leading up to these tests; what proportion of total curriculum time is spent on average in preparing for these tests; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what estimates have been made by (a) Ofsted, (b) the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and (c) his Department of the time taken in year 9 for Key Stage Three test preparation; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: The best preparation for any test is to ensure a pupil has the deep knowledge and understanding of a concept, and the experience of practising a skill, which permits them to demonstrate that knowledge, understanding or skill proficiently and in response to a variety of possible test questions.
The National Assessment Agency, which is responsible for administering the tests, advises schools to prepare their pupils for the tests by providing them with opportunities to familiarise themselves with the layout and design of past test papers, encouraging them to work independently and to be aware that there may be questions in the tests that they will not be able to answer. Head teachers have responsibility for deciding how much preparation pupils should have, but neither the Department nor NAA recommend intensive preparation for the tests.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans his Department has to evaluate, on an ongoing basis, the (a) intended and (b) unintended effects of the use of national targets in Key Stage tests; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: Since 1998 schools and local authorities have set targets for pupils performance in National Curriculum tests and public examinations. The impact of targets on the educational system has been evaluated through the annual test and examination results and through consultation with head teachers and local authorities. We have always made clear that we will consider sensible suggestions for how targets can be refined and improved to help teachers.
The evidence from the test and examination results since 1997 shows clearly that targets have been a powerful stimulus for improvements in standards over the last 10 years. Literacy and numeracy skills have increased significantly across all key stages, This year, 100,000 more 11 year-olds achieved the target level 4+ at Key Stage 2 in English and 90,000 more did so in mathematics compared with 1997. At secondary level, 62,000 more pupils achieved five good GCSEs including English and mathematics compared with 1997. Such rapid improvements would not have been achieved without the challenge of specific and focused targets related to performance outcomes.
In 2004 following an extensive consultation with head teachers we moved to empower schools to set pupil-driven targets that give them ownership of the goals and help them focus on improving teaching and learning in the classroom.
Targets continue to play an essential part in the Government's commitment to raising educational standards. As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review we have announced new targets which will place a focus on improving progression throughout the education system. We want to ensure that more pupils make the expected progress through the key stages at school as well as ensuring they reach the expected levels at the end of each key stage, especially pupils from disadvantages backgrounds who have not kept pace with their peers. The progress targets are an important step in helping all pupils reach their potential.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what assessment he has carried out of the merits of national tests at each Key Stage; and if he will make a statement; 
National curriculum tests at each Key Stage provide a fully objective means of assessing all pupils in England on a consistent basis. This in turn provides information on standards nationally, in the priority subjects, improves accountability of schools to parents and to taxpayers and helps inform parents and teachers how individual pupils are progressing so that they can effectively plan their future learning and development. In short, national tests equip us with the
best data possible about performance in Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 to support the education system as a whole.
The national curriculum tests are designed by the National Assessment Agency (NAA) to differentiate fairly between pupils of different attainment, in line with the level descriptions in the national curriculum. They use statistical and judgemental procedures, as laid out in the National Curriculum Assessment Code of Practice to ensure that the standards of performance required for the award of each level are maintained consistently from year to year.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is responsible for ensuring that standards are maintained over time and its processes for doing so in relation to national curriculum tests were found by the independent Rose Panel (1999), an independent panel commissioned by the Secretary of State to review the procedures to set and maintain standards, to be robust and to bear comparison with best practice in the world.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps the Government have taken to encourage children to take part in extra-curricular activities at school since 1997. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 25 October 2007]: Extra-curricular activities can help increase the attainment of individual children and young people, as well as increase their aspirations and motivation to learn, enabling every child to fulfil their potential. Since 1997, the Government have been firmly committed to giving children and young people the opportunity to benefit from a wide range of extra curricular activity.
Study support is recognised as a key tool in raising pupil attainment and Improving behaviour and attendance. Since 1997 a range of activity has been undertaken, spearheaded by the publication in 1999 of the strategy document Extending Opportunity: A National Framework for Study Support. As part of this, all schools were given access to ring-fenced Government funding for study support activities via the Standards Fund; this was subsumed into mainstream funding In 2004-05.
Playing for Success (PfS) was introduced in 1997 as part of the commitment to tackle under-achievement in urban areas. PfS is establishing study support centres at sports clubs grounds with the aim of raising standards in literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology (ICT) among young people aged between nine and 14 years. The centres use the environment and motivating factor of sport to help pupils to re-engage with education. Typically, pupils attend for two hours per evening, after school, over a 10-week period. Attendance is voluntary. PfS has grown over the past 10 years, and in that period over 220,000 pupils have benefited from attending PfS.
Study support is now part of the extended schools programme, which promotes participation in extra-curricular activity. Starting with 60 local authorities (LAs) in 2003-04, and increasing to include all LAs in 2005-06, the Department piloted Full Service Extended
Schools (FSES), delivering a full core set of services to pupils, families and the wider community.
Building from the success of FSES, the Government are committed to every school providing access to the core offer by 2010. The core offer is: a varied menu of activities (including study support and play) and child care; community access to facilities, swift and easy access to targeted and specialist services; and parenting support. The varied menu aspect of the core offer will give all children and young people the opportunity to engage in voluntary out of school hours activities, both before and after school. Activities can include breakfast clubs, homework clubs, sport, music and the arts and opportunities to pursue particular interests. There are currently over 8,000 schools delivering access to the core offer.
Significant funding has been provided to support extended schools. £680 million was made available between 2005-06 to 2007-08 to support the start up of extended schools. In July 2008, over £1 billion funding was announced for extended schools between 2008-09 to 2010-11. As part of this, £265 million will be made available to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefiting from additional out-of-hours tuition and after-school clubs.
Extended schools can already be shown to be making a positive impact. The Universities of Manchester and Newcastle study into the effectiveness of Full Service Extended Schools (published in June 2007) found that FSES had a positive impact on the attainment of pupils and on engagement with teaming, family stability and enhanced life chances and generated positive outcomes for families and local people, This adds to an analysis undertaken by the Department for Education and Skills, which found progress in the percentage of pupils achieving five plus A*-C at GCSE in extended schools was around double the rate of the national average between 2005 and 2006.
piloting science and engineering clubs offering an engaging and stretching programme of activities to key stage 3 pupils with an interest and aptitude for science;
increasing opportunities to study the separate sciences of physics, chemistry and biology at GCSE level;
introducing a second mathematics GCSE from 2010;
from September 2007, a new statutory entitlement to a course of study leading to two science GCSEs;
funding a network of further mathematics centres through the Mathematics in Industry (MEI) project to increase the number of young people taking further mathematics A level;
developing a longer term communications strategy aimed at young people, teachers and parents to promote the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning and skills for future prospects in order to boost take-up of post-16 qualifications in these subject areas.
|Number of A grade passes at A2 level|
|3||4||5 or more|
|(1) The 2007 figures are provisional. Schools and colleges will have the opportunity to amend their results as part of the annual checking exercise. As a result these figures may change.|
Jim Knight: The availability of AS level in year 12 offers choice to young people. Many choose to take a wider range of subjects at AS in year 12, before perhaps specialising further for their full A levels. Taking an exam in year 12 gives them a clear basis for taking such decisions and can encourage further study. Having a discrete award also means this study is recognised by a qualification, so those that do not go on to complete a full A level are not left empty handed. The design of the A level means that the AS forms half of the overall assessment; the option to take them in year 12 allows the whole A level assessment to be spread over two years.
AS levels do not have to be taken in year 12. For young people and schools that prefer a linear approach to A level assessment, the structure also allows for the exams to be taken at the end of the course, alongside the A2 component.
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