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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on wind farms; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, regularly meets with the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to discuss issues relating to renewable and low carbon energy, including wind farms.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the answer of 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 951W, on Capita, what services Capita and its subsidiaries provide to his Department. 
Kevin Brennan: The Department does not maintain a record of contracts that have been awarded and a complete and accurate answer to the question could be supplied only at disproportionate cost. I can tell the hon. Member, however, from information held centrally that Capita provide the following services to the Department:
Teachers Pensions Administration;
Consultancy support for the Childrens Services Improvement Framework:
Project management and construction project management services for academies:
Management consultancy services to the Department:
A Criminal Records Bureau checking service for day care providers and
The supply of interim personnel and consultants for the Office of the Schools Commissioner and Academies.
The Early Years Support programme has produced a Family Pack, including a booklet containing information for the parents of children with ASDs, who are going through the process of getting a diagnosis or have been recently diagnosed. It was produced in association with the National Autistic Society and Parents' Autism Campaign for Education. Over 50,000 copies have been distributed.
Under the Children, Young People and Families Grant Programme, the then Department for Education and Skills provided a grant of £220,000 over a three-year period to the TreeHouse Trust in 2006-07. This grant is to carry out work with parents' groups and local authority professionals on collaborative working towards better autism services and making information on ASDs more readily available. This year under this grant programme the Department for Children Schools and Families has awarded The National Autistic Society £200,000 over the next three years. This money will expand provision of courses to provide parents with an overview of autistic spectrum disorders; strategies on improving communication; guidance on educational rights and access to services and benefits.
The Aiming High for Disabled Children report (May 2007) announced £280 million over 2008-11 to improve provision of short breaks for families of disabled children. Children with ASDs and their parents will benefit from this funding.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what resources have been provided for schools to assist with the education of children with autism since 1997. 
[holding answer 13 December 2007]: In 2002, the autism working group of the former Department for Education and Skills, published good practice guidance on autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs). The guidance is for schools, local authorities and others who provide for children with autism. Part one gives general guidance on autistic spectrum disorders and part two gives pointers to good practice
which can be used to audit and develop provision. The online version contains examples to illustrate the pointers. Over 32,000 copies of the guidance have been distributed on demand.
The Department-funded regional partnerships have also provided resources for schools. For example guidance on delivering the curriculum for children with ASDs in secondary schools (north-west) and a video illustrating effective practice for children with ASDs (south-west). South-central has developed guidance for learning support assistants and Merseyside a transition toolkit for children with ASDs moving from primary to secondary school.
In 2007-08 six of the nine regional partnerships are being funded for autism related innovation projects. For example the south-east partnership has been awarded a grant of £50,000 to support secondary inclusion for young people with Asperger's syndrome.
In October this year the Government launched the Inclusion Development Programme (IDP). This £2 million project will improve the skills of teachers by advising them on how to develop teaching strategies for children with SEN and providing guidance on dealing with common classroom challenges. Phase two of the programme, which includes the production of training materials, will focus on support for children with ASDs.
This year the Government also provided funding for a group of voluntary organisations, The National Autistic Society, the TreeHouse Trust and the Council for Disabled Children, to set up the Autism Education Trust. The trust was launched on 12 November. The aim of the trust is to bring together voluntary and independent providers to plan and develop further improvements in education provision for children with autism.
In addition to these specific resources, children with ASDs will benefit from the sustained increases in funding for children with all types of special educational need (SEN). Local authorities' planned spending on SEN stood at almost £4.9 billion in 2007-08, up from almost £2.8 billion in 2000-01. Indicative SEN funding in mainstream schools rose by 52 per cent. from almost £1.3 billion in 2003-04 to over £2.0 billion in 2007-08 and school budgets for special schools rose by 31 per cent. from almost £1.1 billion to over £1.4 billion over the same period.
Kevin Brennan [holding answer 13 December 2007]: The Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007 require independent schools to supply data for inclusion on ContactPoint. The regulations also provide for authorised staff in independent schools to be granted access to the database.
Local authorities have been encouraged to approach independent schools in their area, to raise awareness of ContactPoint and to begin to identify which staff in independent schools should have access to ContactPoint.
The Independent Schools Council has participated in ContactPoint consultations on draft regulations and draft guidance. Officials have met with the Independent Schools Council on a number of occasions and hope to continue to engage them as we finalise the guidance and move towards the implementation of ContactPoint
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many people in each (a) income decile, (b) region and (c) income decile in each region took up formal childcare in the last 12 months. 
Beverley Hughes: The 2004 Parents' Childcare Survey(1) estimated that 3.42 million families in England used formal childcare in the last year. The proportion of families who used childcare over the last year by income and region is shown in the following table; income deciles cannot be calculated as the income data is collected in bands rather than actual amounts.
(1 )Childcare and Early Years Provision: A Study of Report 723; DfES. Bryson, C., Kazimirski, A. and Southwood, H (2006). This report is available at:
|Table: Use of formal childcare in the last year by region and annual household income|
|Percentage of families|
|Under £10,000||£10,000 to £19,999||£20,000 to £31,999||£32,000+||Total|
Higher income families were more likely to have used childcare in the last year than lower income families; 69 per cent. of families with a yearly income over £32,000 had used formal childcare in the last year, compared with 47 per cent. of families with a yearly income of under £10,000.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what guidance is issued to local education authorities on the provision of signing assistance in schools for children with hearing impairments; 
Jim Knight: There is no specific guidance issued to local authorities on the provision of signing assistance in schools for children with hearing impairments, however the SEN statutory framework and the SEN code of practice should ensure that all children with special needs have those needs identified and assessed and receive appropriate support.
It is for local authorities to determine what provision they make for children with special educational needs, including children with hearing impairment, taking into account the needs of the individual child, parental preference and local circumstances.
Parents of deaf and hearing impaired children with a statement of special educational needs, are able to express a preference for the maintained school they would like their children to attend based on the communication approaches offered by different schoolsauditory-oral, total communication and sign bilingualism.
We do not routinely make a separate assessment of the educational achievement of children with hearing impairment. All pupils both with and without SEN are assessed at the end of key stages of learning and pupils with a statement of SEN have their needs reviewed annually. We are currently in discussion with deaf and hearing impairment organisations about improving the availability of school attainment data for this group of pupils.
The publication of a new public service agreement reaffirms our commitment to halving child poverty and we have published a delivery agreement outlining how Government will work together to achieve this.
Between 1998-99 and 2005-06 the UK saw the biggest child poverty reduction in Europe and 600,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty. Together, PBR and Budget 2007 will lift up to a further 300,000 children out of poverty. Decisions on financial support will continue to be taken at PBRs and Budgets in the usual way.
Beverley Hughes: We expect all Sure Start children's centres to have a building as a focal point that is clearly identifiable as the Sure Start children's centre. A centre may comprise several neighbouring buildings each hosting some of the core services, although only one of these should be clearly identified as the reception and act as the centre's postal address. Ideally, we want to see services collocated, and under one roof, but accept that this will not always be achievable. In rural areas for example, where a centre serves families living across a wide geographical area, there will often be a main centre and a number of 'outreach' sites which support the delivery of services close to where families live. We are aware that some local authorities do use the term 'virtual children's centre' where they already have a range of services up and running, serving children and families, but the new building that will be the Sure Start children's centre is still under construction.
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