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19 Nov 2007 : Column 640W—continued

It would not be sufficient simply to make the QCA as it stands more independent of Ministers: we need to
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make sure that the regulator’s functions do not conflict, or have any appearance of conflict, and that there is a clear accountability framework for the regulator.

We have therefore announced the creation of a new independent regulator to ensure that the qualifications and tests taken both by young people and adults continue to command the full confidence of employers, further and higher education institutions and the wider public.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans he has to set up a shadow Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to independently maintain educational standards. [166041]

Jim Knight: Following the consultation on our proposals for the future of qualifications regulation, we intend to establish a shadow regulator before the 2008 summer exams.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on what date the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will move to Coventry; and if he will make a statement. [166043]

Jim Knight: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority plans to relocate to Coventry between late spring 2009 and autumn 2009.

School Funding Settlement

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 November 2007, Official Report, columns 27-31WS, on the school funding settlement for 2008-09 to 2010-11 what estimate of the average cost pressures on schools in each year from 2008-09 to 2010-11 underlay the decreases in the minimum funding guarantee; and if he will make a statement. [165074]

Jim Knight: Our assessment is that the national average of the wide range of cost pressures on pay and non-pay faced by schools over the next three years will be 2.1 per cent., which takes account of a 1 per cent. efficiency gain

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 November 2007, Official Report, columns 27-31WS, on the school funding settlement for 2008-09 to 2010-11 what assessment he has made of how schools can make the annual efficiency gains of 1 per cent. in each year from 2008-09 to 2010-11. [165075]

Jim Knight: The Department recognises the need to support schools in improving value for money, and recently commissioned a study to assess the activities through which schools can operate more efficiently and the level of support required to ensure that schools have the right culture, capacity and capability to deliver improvements in value for money.

This work has identified a range of activities in which schools may seek efficiency gains including leadership remodelling, the wider school workforce, collaboration and partnership, purchasing, strategic management and the level of challenge offered to schools. There is already strong support available to schools in many of these
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areas through the Department, local authorities and other partner organisations.

The Department is now working towards a further package of support for schools, details of which will be announced in due course.

School Leaving

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the evidential basis is for compulsory training or education for 17 and 18 year-olds being economically beneficial for (a) individuals and (b) the public purse; and if he will make a statement. [163326]

Jim Knight: Individuals who stay on in education or training after 16 are more likely to gain further qualifications by 18 than those who do not, and they are likely to earn more in the future. Those with level 2 qualifications in particular (the equivalent of five GCSEs A*-C) earn an average of around £100,000 more over their lifetime than those who leave learning with qualifications below level 2. Individuals with higher levels of qualifications have better chances of finding, keeping and progressing in employment. There are also wider benefits related to further participation, including better health and a lower tendency towards crime. More information and references on this can be found in the Green Paper, “Raising Expectations: staying in education and training post-16,” copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.

Analysis has shown that raising the participation age will lead to substantial economic benefits for the country. The Initial Regulatory Impact Assessment that was published with the Green Paper has also been placed in the House Library. These projections are being revised and independently reviewed before being published in December, in the Impact Assessment that will accompany the Bill.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what estimate he has made of the expected lifetime earnings gains to young people with low status who take up (a) level 1 and (b) level 2 qualifications after year 11; and if he will make a statement. [163757]

Beverley Hughes: Expected lifetime earnings benefits will depend on: (i) the type of level 1 or level 2 qualification someone gains; (ii) their age when it is acquired; and (iii) the level of any other qualifications they hold. Current estimates take account of (i) and (iii), are based on average earnings benefits irrespective of when the qualification was gained, and assume that young people have around a 40-year working life.

Lifetime earnings benefits have not been estimated for level 1 qualifications. Earnings by qualification are obtained from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), but it is difficult to identify consistently and robustly people with level 1 qualifications, and hence the earnings gains associated with these qualifications.

Most people who achieve level 2 after year 11 do so through acquiring vocational qualifications. Analysis undertaken by McIntosh (2007)(1) estimates that young people with a level 2 Apprenticeship earn on average around £65,000 more over their working lifetime than
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those who leave learning with qualifications at level 2 or below. The lifetime earning benefit for an NVQ2 qualification is around £20,000. Most people with academic qualifications at level 2 achieve them during compulsory schooling, as opposed to after year 11. We currently estimate that young people with five or more GCSEs A*-C (or 5 O-level passes) earn on average around £100,000 more over their working lifetime than those who leave learning with below level 2 qualifications.

These estimates are averaged across young people from all socio-economic groups. There is some indicative evidence [Dearden et al, 2004(2)] that wage returns for NVQ2 qualifications may be higher for individuals from lower socio-economic groups.

The Government's reforms to education and skills aim to increase the proportion of pupils who achieve level 1 and level 2 and to reduce the achievement gap among those from disadvantaged backgrounds. We have a target for 82 per cent. of young people to achieve level 2 by age 19 by 2010-11. The introduction of Diplomas, Functional Skills, the Foundation Learning Tier, and the expansion of apprenticeships are key elements of the reforms. We have recently announced our intention to bring forward legislation to raise the participation age in learning to 18 by 2015. Achieving qualifications at level 2 is the minimum level required for future employability.

Schools: Admissions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his policy is on new schools opening in areas where there are surplus places; and if he will make a statement. [166044]

Jim Knight: Local authorities, as commissioners of educational services, are responsible for balancing the supply and demand of school places in their area. They have a duty to ensure there are sufficient school places, that the needs local parents and children are served, and that good quality education is provided in a cost-effective way.

Local authorities may commission new schools where there is a need for extra places, and where they wish to reorganise provision and remove surplus places by replacing existing schools with new schools. Providers other than the local authority may also propose new schools in areas where there are surplus places, where this will increase diversity and parental choice, subject to the Secretary of State's agreement.

Where a new school is to be commissioned the local authority will normally be required to hold a competition and invite proposals from a range of potential providers. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Secretary of State grant an exemption from a competition.

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Schools: Attendance

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) which 20 secondary schools had the biggest gap between pupil attendance and the funded school roll in the latest year for which figures are available; what the gap was in each case; and if he will make a statement; [165069]

(2) if he will list the 50 maintained schools with the worst attendance figures in England in 2007; what the comparable figures for their performance were in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006. [166029]

Jim Knight: Regulations specify that the budget set by the local authority for a school is based on the number of pupils on the school roll as reported in the January School Census.

Attendance figures are not published. School level information on absence rates, number of pupils on roll and performance indicators for 2004/05 and 2005/06 is available in the House Library. Data for 2006/07 are not yet published. Those will be available in January and placed in the Library. However, due to underlying changes in the data collection, absence rates for 2006/07 will not be directly comparable with earlier years.

Schools: Finance

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what factors were taken into account in determining the school funding settlement for Bournemouth for 2008 to 2010. [165254]

Jim Knight: Bournemouth’s allocation of Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2008-09 to 2010-11 will depend on the following factors: the authority’s 2007-08 guaranteed unit of funding for DSG; and the number of pupils aged three to 15 in the authority’s schools and early years providers. Full details of the calculation of Dedicated Schools Grant allocations may be found on TeacherNet at:

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what account is taken of deprivation levels in deciding allocations of the dedicated school grant to local authorities; and what allocations of the grant was (a) for Metropolitan borough of Wirral and (b) on average for English local authorities in 2006-07. [165816]

Jim Knight: The distribution method for Dedicated Schools Grant starts from each authority’s budgeted spend for schools in 2005-06, which largely reflects the historical allocation of resources through the Schools Formula Spending Share (FSS) formula, which gave additional funding for area costs, additional educational needs including deprivation, and sparsity. The total amount of funding distributed for deprivation nationally was £2,512 million of a total of £26,574 million and for Wirral £21 million from a total of £171 million. The Dedicated Schools Grant per pupil for Wirral for 2006-07 was £3,270 compared with an average for English local authorities of £3,411.

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Schools: Rural Areas

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many schools in England serve rural communities; how many of these are voluntary aided primary schools; how many rural schools have used staff procedures with two panels constituted from the same governing body; and how many of these have resulted in the dismissal of a member of staff. [165130]

Jim Knight: The Department uses the Countryside Agency’s Rural and Urban Area Classification to identify rural schools. There are currently 1,074 rural voluntary aided primary schools and 32 rural voluntary aided secondary schools in England.

We do not collate national statistics on the circumstances and frequency of school work force dismissals. In the case of staff dismissal, the responsibility for this decision falls to the school’s governing body, although the initial decision to dismiss can be delegated to the school’s head teacher.

Where a school wishes to dismiss a member of staff, they must give that person the opportunity to make representation to the governing body (or head teacher) before the decision to dismiss can be taken. Where an initial dismissal decision is made, the member of staff must also be given an opportunity to appeal against that decision. The appeal hearing should be undertaken by at least three governors who have not been involved in any previous action or decision connected with the dismissal.

Schools: Standards

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he expects the first executive board to take over management of a failing school further to the Prime Minister’s announcement of 31 October 2007. [164525]

Jim Knight: The Prime Minister referred to Interim Executive Boards (IEBs) in his speech on 31 October. These were introduced in the Education Act 2002. A local authority (LA) can apply to the Secretary of State for permission, temporarily to replace the governing body of a school which has been placed in the Ofsted categories of special measures or significant improvement; or which has not responded satisfactorily to a formal local authority warning notice under section 60 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. The Secretary of State also has a reserve power to establish an IEB in exceptional cases.

The IEB takes on all of the powers and responsibilities of the governing body. So far 54 applications from local authorities have been approved and the Secretary of State has established two IEBs.

Once each IEB has fulfilled its objectives there is a phased return to normal governance.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) which failing schools have been identified for possible takeover further to the Prime Minister’s announcement on 4 September; [164755]

(2) what the Government’s policy is on independent schools taking over failing maintained schools. [164524]

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Jim Knight: The Prime Minister’s announcement on 4 September referred to the establishment of federations between high-performing schools and those in need of educational improvement. This initiative does not involve the takeover of any school, but will retain the separate identities of the schools concerned, while facilitating closer partnership working and the exchange of expertise and experience. Discussions are currently taking place to confirm the schools which will take part in the initiative and we expect to make an announcement in the new year.

Successful fee-paying independent schools are being encouraged to sponsor or support an academy. The independent school can become the lead sponsor, taking on full responsibility for setting up and running a new academy or it may choose to become a co-sponsor, providing significant support through transfer of educational expertise, but looking to other sponsors to lead on other aspects of the school’s development. Following a recent policy change, successful independent schools are not required to provide a cash endowment when sponsoring an academy. For successful independent day schools that want to serve their whole local community and broaden their pupil intake, there is the opportunity to become academies—maintaining the benefits of their autonomy, ethos and leadership, but ceasing to charge fees.


Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans he has to work with outside agencies to improve young people’s understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and if he will make a statement. [165416]

Jim Knight: We are already working with a wide range of partners and stakeholders, to improve young people's understanding of these subjects. For example we have set up:

We also work directly with a range of external organisations both to help develop policy and provide support directly to schools. These include the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the Training and Development Agency for Schools, Lifelong Learning UK, the National Strategies, the network of Science Learning Centres, the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics, the Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET), and the Learning and Skills Network.

The Government very much value the contribution these outside organisations make to this agenda and will continue to work with them.

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