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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 6 February 2008

House of Commons Commission

Carbon Offset Payment

Robert Key: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will make a statement on the carbon offset payment made by the House in respect of parliamentary air travel in 2006-07. [183957]

Nick Harvey: The Commission decided in June 2006 that the House should make payments to offset carbon emissions from air travel paid by the House or from Members' parliamentary allowances and booked using the parliamentary Travel Office. The House of Lords House Committee did likewise in July 2006. The House made its first carbon offset payment for 2006-07 in May 2007. The payment for 2006-07 was £26,025.50 and resulted from the emission of an estimated 2,626 tonnes of carbon from parliamentary air travel during the year. The offset payment has been made to the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund, which is overseen by DEFRA.

Prime Minister

Pakistan: Human Rights

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he made to the President of Pakistan on that country’s record on human rights and civil liberties at their meeting on 28 January 2008; and if he will make a statement. [183787]

The Prime Minister: I discussed a wide range of issues with President Musharraf. I refer the hon. Member to the press conference I held with the President on 28 January 2008. A transcript of this is available on the No. 10 website:

and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

Children, Schools and Families

Children: Abuse

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many allegations of child abuse have been reported by (a) state maintained and (b) independent schools to (i) the police and (ii) social services in each of the last five years; [183585]

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(2) what obligations state maintained schools have to report allegations of child abuse to (a) the police and (b) social services; and whether independent schools operate under the same obligations. [183586]

Kevin Brennan [holding answer 1 February 2008]: The information requested about the number of allegations reported by maintained and independent schools to the police and social services is not held centrally.

The Government issued comprehensive guidance for schools and other education institutions, “Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education”, in November 2006 and this came into force in January 2007. This sets out the process for dealing with allegations that might indicate that someone is unsuitable to continue to work with children, because it is alleged that they have behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child; possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates s/he is unsuitable to work with children. The guidance is clear that any allegations that fall within this definition must be taken seriously and should be examined objectively by someone independent of the school concerned: in the first instance this is typically the local authority designated officer who leads on dealing with allegations in that area. The guidance explains that the police must be consulted about any case in which a criminal offence may have been committed, and that a strategy discussion (which will involve children’s social care) should take place when there is cause to suspect a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. Sometimes allegations will be so serious as to require immediate intervention by children’s social care or the police, prior to notifying the local authority designated officer.

This guidance is directed at both maintained and independent schools. For maintained schools it is underpinned by the duty on governing bodies in section 175 of the Education Act 2002. For independent schools the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils is underpinned by requirements in regulations made under section 157 of the Education Act 2002. The relevant regulations are the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2003, as amended.

Children: Day Care

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps the Government plan to take to assist parents with the costs of child care. [184118]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 4 February 2008]: This Government recognise that child care costs are a serious matter for some families, which is why we are doing more than ever before to make good quality child care and early education accessible and affordable.

We are investing £3 billion per year to support free early education, so all three and four-year-olds, irrespective of the employment status of their parents, can benefit from 12.5 hours of free early years provision for 38 weeks per year. This increases to 15 hours by 2010 and will be delivered more flexibly to
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meet families' needs. In addition, we announced in the Children's Plan an additional £100 million to pilot a free entitlement for 20,000 of our most disadvantaged two-year-olds.

We provide substantial help (totalling over £3 million a day) through the tax credit system, in providing up to 80 per cent. of child care costs—helping nearly 430,000 families.

We have enabled employers to support working parents with their child care costs by offering tax and national insurance exemptions through salary sacrifice and child care vouchers for good quality formal child care. In addition, beginning in September 2008, £75 million has been made available over three years, so that 50,000 workless families can benefit from free child care, allowing parents to access training and move into work.

In London, additional support for child care is available to lower income parents, through the £33 million London Childcare Affordability Programme.

The recent DCSF “affordable child care” campaign aims to make parents much more aware of the range of provision in their areas and the support available to make child care more affordable.

Extended Schools

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what progress his Department has made towards meeting its targets on (a) extended schools and (b) after-school childcare. [184925]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 5 February 2008]: We want all schools to offer access to extended services by 2010, including providing access to child care and a range of activities, with at least half of all primary and a third of secondary schools doing so by September.

At present, 9,393 schools are providing access to extended services which is well on the way to meeting the 2008 target.

Month to month variations can occur, resulting in figures going down as well as up, for example, as a result of local school reorganisations. There are many other schools which are already providing individual parts of the core offer that are not yet included in these figures.

There are no specific targets for local authorities on after-school child care. Local authorities are required to complete, by 31 March 2008, assessments of the sufficiency of child care in their areas in relation to children of all ages, covering supply of places, demand for places and gaps between the two.

Their assessments will provide the basis for their duty to secure sufficient child care for all working parents from 1 April 2008.

Extended Schools: Disadvantaged

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what estimate he has made of the cost of extended school provision in deprived areas in England in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [184926]

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Beverley Hughes [holding answer 5 February 2008]: The Government have committed significant funding to support schools in establishing high quality and sustainable extended services. In the period 2006 to 2008 the Government provided £680 million to schools and local authorities. In 2008-09 to 2010-11 an additional £1.3 billion of funding will be made available. This is set out in the following table.

£ million
Extended schools total funding 2008 to 2011 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 Total CSR period











Extended Schools Subsidy Scheme





Academic-Focused Study Support





Total Extended Schools Revenue





Total Extended Schools Capital





Total Extended Schools Revenue and Capital





The Department has announced the individual local authority allocations for the next three years for the start up, sustainability and capital funding streams outlined above. The methodology used for determining these allocations took levels of deprivation in each authority fully into account. Included in the £1.3 billion extended schools funding is £265.5 million to ensure that children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to access high quality extended activities and are not prevented from doing so on grounds of cost.

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many facilities for extended school provision in deprived areas in England were (a) set up and (b) closed in each of the last three years. [185102]

Beverley Hughes: Information is not collected centrally on the number of school facilities that have opened up or closed down for extended school provision.

TDA measures deprivation through the numbers of pupils entitled to free school meals. The following table provides figures on the number of schools providing access to the full core offer based on the level of deprivation.

Figures for 2007 and 2008 are provided as the target for schools providing access to the full core offer of extended services began in autumn 2006.

Deprivation (percentage of pupils entitled to free school meals)
Most deprived (over 25 per cent.) Number Percentage

As of 10 January 2007

Schools providing access to core offer






As of 9 January 2008

Schools providing access to core offer






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Free School Meals

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the potential effects of universal free school meals on levels of healthy eating. [183816]

Kevin Brennan: This Department has not made an assessment.

Pre-School Education: Coventry

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much the Government have spent on pre-school education in Coventry in the last five years. [184822]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 5 February 2008]: In 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 local authorities received funding to provide free nursery education for three and four-year-olds through the under-fives sub-block of their education formula spending (EFS). Coventry was funded the following amounts through the under-fives block of the EFS:

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Coventry: education formula spend (under fives block)
£ million







EFS was not ring-fenced, therefore funding for education—including the notional under-fives funding—could be spent on other sectors and vice versa.

Since 2006-07 early years funding has been paid via the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). We do not separately identify the amount of funding in the DSG for early years. Local authorities are responsible for determining how best to distribute their overall allocation.


Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what percentage of pupils in year (a) 9, (b) 10 and (c) 11 had a recorded unauthorised absence in (i) 2004-05, (ii) 2005-06 and (iii) 2006-07. [184031]

Kevin Brennan: The first year for which information is available on absence rates by national curriculum year group is 2005/06 and relates to secondary schools only. Data for 2006-07 are expected to be available at the end of February.

The available information is shown in the table:

All secondary schools( 1,2) : Pupil absence for national curriculum year groups 9,10 and 11 , 2005-06, England
Percentage of half days missed( 4)
National curriculum year group: Number of day pupils of compulsory school age( 3) Authorised absence Unauthorised absence Overall absence
















(1) Includes middle schools as deemed.
(2) Includes local authority maintained secondary schools, city technology colleges and academies.
(3) Pupil numbers are as at January 2006. Includes pupils aged five to 15 with sole and dual (main) registration. Excludes boarders.
(4) The number of sessions missed due to authorised/unauthorised/overall absence expressed as a percentage of the total number of possible sessions.
Totals may not appear to equal the sum of the component parts because numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.
School Census

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