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Kevin Brennan: Schools have a key role in supporting young carers. They have responsibilities to all their pupils including a new duty for maintained schools to promote the well-being of their pupils under the Education and Inspections Act 2006. We look to schools to create a supportive environment that responds flexibly to each child’s personal circumstances. Within this context, the Government have made a commitment to improving the awareness of young carers’ circumstances among teachers and others working in schools. For example,
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this year we are supporting the development of good practice guidance for those working with young carers and their families, which will include a section on what schools can do to identify and support them. Also, we are making sure that the particular needs of young carers are taken account of in our guidance for schools, such as that on behaviour, attendance and bullying.

The cross-Government review of carers now under way is a welcome opportunity to re-assess the support available to young carers. Young carers have been consulted, and stakeholder bodies with knowledge of the issues are fully engaged.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what information his Department collects on the number of young carers in (a) schools and (b) further education. [187826]

Kevin Brennan: This information is not collected centrally.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

National Skills Academy

9. Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will make a statement on the establishment of a national skills academy for the process industry. [187376]

Mr. Lammy: I launched the National Skills Academy for the Process Industries on 24 January. It has a vital role in raising skills across a sector which employs 420,000 people and contributes £22 billion to the economy.

Small Business

11. Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department has taken to assist the development of leadership and management skills in small businesses. [187378]

Mr. Denham: We have increased our commitment to our Leadership and Management programme through Train to Gain from £4 million this year to £30 million per year. This aims to develop the capacity of small business managers to understand the skills needs of their business, and to make use of the publicly funded Train to Gain programme. We expect to support around 42,000 companies with between 10 and 250 employees and some 60,000 individual managers over the next three years. We anticipate that this will result in around 150,000 learners from those companies using Train to Gain.

Animals in Research

12. Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent steps his Department has taken to identify alternatives to the use of animals in research. [187379]

Ian Pearson: DIUS is spending close to £5.5 million this year on research into the replacement, refinement and reduction of animals in research via the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
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and the Medical Research Council (MRC). Of this £2.4 million goes to the National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research NC3Rs.

Innovation

13. Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent steps he has taken to stimulate innovation in the public and private sector. [187380]

Ian Pearson: Considerable progress has been made in implementing the Government's 10 Year Science and Innovation Investment Framework.

The Technology Strategy Board will coordinate £1 billion of spending over the next three years to support R and D and innovation. We have established the Energy Technologies Institute and we are providing increased support through the Higher Education Innovation Fund.

In addition, we are working with other Government Departments and public bodies to promote innovation in the public sector. A further series of proposals will be set out in our forthcoming Science and Innovation Strategy.

Science Degrees

14. Chris Mole: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of applications for science degree courses at universities. [187382]

Bill Rammell: The Government are committed to increasing numbers of young people studying science, technology, engineering and maths at all levels. As well as our close coordination with the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Department funds STEMNET, (the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network), to raise awareness of these subjects among young people. Their Science and Engineering Ambassadors scheme has already enabled over 18,000 specialists to work directly with schools and colleges, alerting students to the opportunities offered by studying these subjects.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) also provides £75 million additional funding from 2007-08 for three years for high cost strategic science subjects at undergraduate level, including chemistry, physics and chemical engineering.

Apprenticeships

15. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is taking to improve the advice on apprenticeships available to young people. [187383]

Mr. Lammy: My RHF, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, has announced a range of steps in his “Children's Plan” to improve the quality of advice to young people. In addition, “World-Class Apprenticeships” contains measures specifically focused
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on apprenticeships, including plans to legislate to require schools to provide comprehensive information on apprenticeships to all their pupils.

16. Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department is taking to encourage small businesses in Denton and Reddish constituency to provide apprenticeships. [187384]

Mr. Lammy: As I explained in an earlier answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Calder Valley (Chris McCafferty), the report of the apprenticeship review sets out a wide range of measures to expand apprenticeships. Small business will particularly benefit from our plans to extend wage subsidies to them so that they can more easily recruit apprentices.

22. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the drop-out rate was from Government-sponsored apprenticeships in each of the last three years. [187390]

Mr. Lammy: The proportion of those who complete the Apprenticeship Framework has grown dramatically over the last three years. In 2004/05 the figure was 40 per cent.; in 2005/06 it was 53 per cent. and in 2006/07 it had risen to 63 per cent. This shows the ongoing improving status and quality of apprenticeships. The proportion who do not complete the apprenticeship is at an all-time low, and continues to fall.

24. Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is taking to encourage employers to participate in the apprenticeship programme. [187392]

Mr. Lammy: “World-Class Apprenticeships” sets out a range of measures to encourage many more employers to expand their apprenticeship numbers and to join the programme. These include new financial incentives; a national matching service; and new flexibilities so that employers can bring their own qualifications into apprenticeship frameworks.

Michael Jabez Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps the Government is taking to increase the number of adult apprenticeships. [187381]

Mr. Lammy: We recently announced that for the first time, funding will be targeted specifically at expanding apprenticeships for adults aged over 25. This will mean 30,000 such apprenticeships costing £90 million over the next three years.

Skills Training

17. Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is taking to increase employer awareness of the benefits of skills training for employees. [187385]

Mr. Denham: It is vital that employers are aware of the benefits skills training can unlock for both employers and their employees. Through “Train to Gain” more than 70,000 employers have been engaged since its
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launch in April 2006. We launched the “Skills Pledge” in June 2007 and now have more than 950 employers committed. And through our skills marketing campaign, ‘our future, its in our hands’, we are further raising awareness.

Supported Apprenticeships

18. John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what plans he has for supported apprenticeships for people with learning difficulties or disabilities. [187386]

Mr. Lammy: As we said in “World-class Apprenticeships’, more needs to be done to help those with disadvantages to access apprenticeships. It will be a priority for the National Apprenticeship Service to implement a range of measures for disadvantaged groups.

Adult Learning

19. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what support his Department provides for informal adult learning. [187387]

Mr. Denham: We have safeguarded an annual budget of £210 million to 2010/11 to provide personal and community development learning, to widen participation in informal learning and to ensure that people who live in pockets of deprivation do not lose out.

The consultation that I launched last month, “Informal Adult Learning: Shaping the Way Ahead”, re-affirms our commitment to this kind of learning and its importance in meeting the basic human need for creativity and stimulation—as well as improving health and well-being in our communities.

I have been greatly encouraged by the tremendous response of our partners, stakeholders and learners in taking this important consultation forward.

NEETs

20. Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent estimate he has made of the number of 16 to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training. [187388]

Mr. Lammy: Although responsibility for 16 to 17-year-olds is a matter for the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and is a shared responsibility for 18-year-olds, the Government are tackling vigorously the important issue of young people not in education, employment or training.

The UK has a dynamic and flexible labour market with one of the highest employment rates in the G7. Youth unemployment has fallen since 1997 and the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds not engaged in full-time education or employment is down to 18.0 per cent. in 2007 from 19.4 per cent. in 1997. We have seen an increase of 501,000 in the number of 18 to 24-year-olds in full-time education, a rise from 22.7 per cent. to 28.3 per cent.


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Nanotechnology Research

21. Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what discussions he has had with the Health and Safety Executive on health and safety standards in nanotechnology research development. [187389]

Ian Pearson: Nanotechnologies offer potentially huge benefits to society, industry, the environment and health. They can help us improve our quality of life and respond to key issues, such as climate change, potentially contributing to improved energy storage and efficiency, better diagnosis and treatment of disease, faster computer systems, and remediation of polluted air, soil and water.

The Government are committed to understanding any potential risks of nanotechnologies and to managing them within a proportionate regulatory framework.

We have established a ministerial cross-departmental group that co-ordinates the UK’s programme of research into the health, safety and environmental implications of nanotechnologies. I chair this group which brings together Ministers from DEFRA, DH, DWP and BERR.

DIUS has provided sponsorship for research into “Health and Safety Exposure Assessment in the Workplace Relating to Nanotechnologies”. HSE representatives have endorsed this project. It is envisaged that this research will form the basis of a new standard in research development. DIUS is also funding research into the health effects of nanotechnology.

The development of standards is very important to enable both the development and the regulation of nanotechnologies. Recently, the British Standards Institution has published a number of UK standards that will help to frame the development of international and European standards, including the Guide to Safe Handling and Disposal of Manufactured Nanomaterials (PD 6699-2)(1). This provides advice on good practice to those working in laboratories where research on new materials and applications is being undertaken, as this is where exposure to engineered free nanoscale materials is most likely to occur at present.

I will be making a statement about Government activities on nanotechnologies next Thursday. This will cover the development and commercialisation, as well as the potential risks and regulation of nanotechnologies.

Science Project Funding

23. Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for high level science projects involving Liverpool University and Daresbury Laboratory; and if he will make a statement. [187391]

Ian Pearson: The Science Budget allocations for CSR07, which were presented on the 11 December 2007, showed an average real terms increase for science of 2.7 per cent. per annum rising from £3,382 million in 2007/08
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to £3,970 million in 2010/11. Over 85 per cent. of this budget is provided as funding to the research councils. The councils themselves decide within their respective budget allocations how much of their funding they spend on each of their programmes, and that determines which universities benefit from their expenditure. As announced in Budget 2006, the Government have designated the Science and Technology Facility Council’s Daresbury Laboratory as a Science and Innovation Campus. The broader strategic role for Daresbury and its importance to the North West and its relationship with NW universities will be addressed as part of the Manchester Independent Economic Review to be chaired by Sir Tom McKillop which will specifically include Daresbury’s contribution to the NW’s scientific and economic base. The Government remain fully committed to developing Daresbury as a Science and Innovation Campus.

Cumbria

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills whether his Department plans to move any of its offices to the Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency. [166563]

Mr. Lammy: The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has no imminent plans to move any of its offices to the Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency. However, we do regularly review our sites strategy and a large proportion of the staff employed by the Department and its agencies are already located outside of London and the South East.

Dentistry: Class Sizes

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what the student to teacher ratio was in each dental school in the UK in each of the last 10 years; what the Department’s recommended student to teacher ratio is; and if he will make a statement; [183734]

(2) what assessment his Department has made of the impact of increased student numbers on the clinical time included in dental students’ training; [183827]

(3) what assessment his Department has made of the dental academic workforce; and what plans his
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Department has to increase the number of dental academic posts in the UK's dental schools. [183733]

Bill Rammell: Although we have not specified a student teacher ratio, we are aware from surveys conducted by the Council of Heads and Deans of Dental Schools of a decrease in the number of clinical academic dentists. In order to address this challenge, in the context of the increase in student numbers, the Department of Health has allocated additional funds building to £29 million by 2010/11 for the clinical training of dental students. With the development of outreach training in dentistry, more students are receiving part of their training in general dental practices where suitable trained and experienced dental practitioners provide clinical training.


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