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Concerns have been expressed by the Merits Committee, which were reflected in a couple of contributions, about the time scale and about whether we should be allowing more time to prepare for the change. The implementation teams in east and west Cheshire are up and running, however, as the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton) and my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Christine Russell) made clear. Officers from all the councils are now working together and have been doing so for some time, with the result that much of the
preparatory work is already well advanced. Of particular importance is the increasing involvement evident in Crewe and Nantwich and in Congleton, despite local opposition to the proposal, and the greater involvement of Cheshire county council, especially in terms of some important areas of work led by its senior officers.
When one adds to that the arrangements for support from the centre, the implementation plans set out in the order, the regular meetings with national Government officials, the detailed involvement from the Government office for the north-west, and the fact that Humberside and Avon represent precedents, from back in 1995, for similar reorganisations on a similar time scale being undertaken effectively, we are given the confidence to believe that this proposed reorganisation can and will be done on a time scale to allow the new authorities to be up and running on 1 April 2009. I recognise that the time scales are tight, but they have been set in response to the local authorities, which have all urged us to make the decision and get on with it. The county council has recognised that, which is why it has decided to withdraw its legal proceedings against the Secretary of State. The county council leader, Paul FindlowI pay tribute to himhas committed to work with district council colleagues, and the leader of the Labour group, Derek Bateman, has also thrown his weight behind the criticism of those who look to try to block the proposal.
The worst outcome would be if the uncertainty that Cheshire has faced arising from previous reorganisation proposals were to continue because no decision was backed tonight in this place and, later in the week, in the other House. We have created this chance for new flagship local authorities to set a new standard for local governmentwe expect no less.
That the draft Charities Act 2006 (Charitable Companies Audit and Group Accounts Provisions) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 29th January, be approved.
That the draft Immigration and Nationality (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2008, which were laid before this House on 30th January, be approved. [Mr. Roy.]
That this House takes note of European Union Document No. 15351/07, Commission Communication, Preparing for the Health Check of the CAP reform; and supports the Governments aim that the health check should cut further the trade-distorting nature of the CAP, reduce regulatory burdens, give farmers greater control over their business decisions and direct more public spending towards the delivery of targeted public benefits. [Mr. Roy.]
That this House, at its rising on Thursday 20th March 2008, do adjourn till Tuesday 25th March 2008.
That this House, at its rising on Thursday 3rd April 2008, do adjourn till Monday 21st April 2008. [Mr. Roy.]
Joan Ryan (Enfield, North) (Lab): Despite the lateness of the hour, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on the important issue of community supplementary schools. Those schools, with roots in the African-Caribbean communitys pioneering work in the 1970s, aim to enhance the educational opportunities of young people through the provision of out-of-school-hours educational initiatives. They supplement mainstream education through a programme that emphasises culture alongside the skills required to achieve academically.
I know that Lord Adonis, the Under-Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, has taken a keen interest in this issue, and I thank him for all the time and attention that he has dedicated so far to addressing and improving the status of supplementary schools. I also thank Paul Morrish from ContinYou, one of UKs leading community learning organisations and host of the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Educationthe NRCand the supplementary school leaders in my constituency, particularly the Turkish supplementary schools consortium, which has worked tirelessly to build, run and grow these facilities for young people in Enfield.
I am pleased that the issue of supplementary schools is moving further up the political agenda and into the education limelight. Recently, representatives of some of Londons 23 Turkish and Kurdish supplementary schools met Lord Adonis to discuss the pressing issues facing this specific sector of the supplementary schools movement. That was a significant step towards embedding support for supplementary schools. I refer to Turkish supplementary schools because they are the predominant form of such school in my constituency, but there are supplementary schools in a range of communities throughout the country, such as Greek Cypriot, Jewish, Bangladeshi, and Muslim schools, and many others, including the Afro-Caribbean schools that I mentioned, which were pioneers in the 1970s.
One of the ideas that arose from the meeting that the consortium held with the Minister was the suggestion of a senior champion to liaise between the Department for Children, Schools and Families, other Departments and others in the sector, including the national resource centre, to make progress in this area. I strongly welcome such a role and ask the Minister to commit to that extremely helpful idea. I hope that the Government will continue to work closely with and support the National Resource Centre, which does excellent work in this field.
An estimated 5,000 supplementary schools are operating in England. They demonstrate a significant commitment from ethnic minority communities to improve the academic attainment of minority ethnic pupils through the expression and fostering of cultural qualities. They play a fundamental role in facilitating mainstream education, cultural expression and community cohesion while highlighting the considerable efforts and costs burdening parents, teachers, volunteers and community groups throughout the UK. Despite that, short-term funding has prohibited long-term investment in staffing, resources and the development
of partnerships. Some supplementary schools are large and well resourced, but the majority are small, cash-poor projects, reliant on the altruism of local parents, businesses and community groups. The problems and frustrations that they encounter will be familiar to anyone involved in community development and informal education: they lack funding and sometimes teaching resources, their teachers are often untrained, and they can struggle to find premises.
Funding for supplementary schools is essential if they are to engage as genuine partners, develop the quality of their provision and engage in joint activities with schools. At their best, supplementary schools and mainstream schools link together to contribute to the integration and attainment of children; where that is taking place in a genuine partnership, the impact is demonstrable and impressive.
The Government are committed to a fair, meritocratic education system that requires every pupil to be valued equally, but that also recognises that not every child should be taught in the same way. Supplementary schools can help to access and unlock the hidden potential of students whose individual intellectual potential has been reduced by a culturally uniform approach to learning. Government-led initiatives such as the ethnic minority achievement grant represent positive action from within the mainstream system to target the underachievement of certain ethnic groups. I feel that it is important to stress that significant progress has already been made.
However, it is essential that children have an education and a knowledge base that is right for them as individuals. There is evidence to suggest that a one-size-fits-all mode of learning has, in part, marginalised ethnic minority children within the mainstream education system, which has in turn led to significant underachievement. Indeed, one of the key messages of Diversity and Citizenship in the Curriculum, the 2007 curriculum review led by Sir Keith Ajegbo, was the centrality of a more flexible, diverse and tailored approach to teaching.
the diversity of national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding
their origins and implications
only rarely deconstructed to explore in any detail what this implies.
However, Britains supplementary sector represents an existing educational framework that has the unique capacity to cultivate and encourage individuals cultural and lingual expression. Supplementary schools can engage young people effectively and help to translate elements of the mainstream curriculum into a culturally embedded context.
I believe that such projects are vital to the integration of minority ethnic pupils in their respective communities, inside and outside school gates. Following the Governments drive to promote a policy of community cohesion, I am convinced that a great deal can be achieved by celebrating, recognising and encouraging the extraordinary resource
that so many of our minority communities offer. I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to explore ways in which guidance on community cohesion might best draw attention to the supplementary school sector.
Of course, supplementary schools offer many other benefits to children and communities. They have traditionally worked closely with parents, local community groups and businesses. The supplementary sector generally boasts far more active parental involvement, which has been recognised as having a profound effect on childrens attainment.
Considerable qualitative and quantitative evidence suggests that students who attend supplementary school have markedly improved examination results across the core mainstream subjects of English, mathematics and science, in addition to their native language.
A Bristol project that brought supplementary and mainstream schools together as part of a wider project, called the Mainstreaming Supplementary School Support Project, boasted a 13 per cent. increase in those achieving five A* to C grades at GCSE against predicted grades, and a 39 per cent. increase in those achieving any A* to C grades. For some communities, the figures were even higher. Indeed, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority suggests that local authorities and mainstream and supplementary schools should recognise the mutual benefits of collaboration between the sectors and formalise the links between them.
The Government could do more to encourage mainstream schools to take advantage of those benefits, especially by supporting supplementary education through the successful extended schools programme. Given the amount of investment being made, surely some capacity must exist in local authorities and schools to engage with and support their local supplementary schools.
The challenges of collaboration are illustrated in my constituency of Enfield, North, where it is clear that those benefits are not being realised as fully as they could be. Enfield Turkish school is an evening and weekend supplementary initiative hosted at Albany school in Enfield. It has proved a huge success in my constituency. Over the past three years, I have engaged with, and worked with, the chairman of the school, Suleyman Soydag, the deputy chair, Alp Ermiya, and teachers in the supplementary school and in the mainstream school that hosts them.
Four hundred and five pupils attend Enfield Turkish school, of whom 265 attend Turkish language and cultural classes, 60 take GCSE classes and 80 adults attend English language classes. Teachers at Enfield Turkish school are highly qualified and some also teach at Albany school during the conventional school day. The standard of educational provision is outstanding, as is reflected in the GCSE results.
Turkish school students who sat GCSE examinations in the Turkish language in 2005 achieved an average B grade result, with 95 per cent. achieving grades A* to C and 71.4 per cent. achieving either an A or A* grade. Enfield supplementary school is run over the course of a 38-week year, using two school halls and 14 classrooms every Sunday morning.
The costs of renting the hall, the classrooms, the use of PCs, printing materials and additional hours for the school caretaker amount to £16,000 per annum. The
chairman of the Turkish supplementary school, Suleyman Soydag explains that the money is raised through donations from local businesses, fundraising functions, a small grant from the local authority for accommodation or donations from the parents of attendees through a fees-based system. If the school let the classrooms and hall space at the standard rate, it would make £22,800. However, Albany school has created a special dispensation rate, letting the room and hall space at approximately 40 per cent. of the standard rate. The school also contributes £3,000 to the Turkish school. If we take all the costs into account, we see that Albany secondary school makes an annual loss of £2,899 on letting to the Turkish school.
The money, effort and enthusiasm invested in Enfield Turkish school and similarly run supplementary projects throughout the country reflect untold academic and social benefits. Without the generous investment from Albany school, Enfield Turkish school could not afford the accommodation for its 405 students. Despite the additional investment that Albany school makes, I have witnessed the reality of the annual ritualistic struggle that Enfield Turkish school faces in maintaining its existing services. It is not that the parents do not want to continue to raise the money; rather, they want to be able to put a substantial amount of that money into the teachers and into the resources in the classroom.
It is clear that further investment is needed. Supplementary schools have grown in number and in quality, owing to the widespread enthusiasm and confidence that communities have in the supplementary sector. As I have said, there are 5,000 projects nationally. Further investment is needed to secure a set of national standards and a quality framework to optimise the clear benefits of such schools, but that must be done in such a way as not to penalise those cash-poor voluntary run organisations.
I end by thanking the Minister once again for his work on the issue and by asking him to continue to look into how we can better support the supplementary school sector, particularly in relation to the costs of the premises, support through the extended schools programme and integration into broader strategies such as community cohesion. I hope that a more codified set of guidelines can be developed to ensure that supplementary school projects are, at the very least, organised and run at cost.
Ultimately, I believe that supplementary schools should have the use of school buildings for free. I know that the matter is devolved to local authorities, which already have the power to remove many charges, but they are unlikely to do so without pressure from the Government. I ask the Minister seriously to consider the contribution of supplementary schools and to think about what I have said about costs. I do not expect him to give me a commitment this evening, but I know that the Department values supplementary schools.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Kevin Brennan): I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Joan Ryan) on securing tonights debate. She has taken the lead in supporting and promoting supplementary schools and, as she mentioned, has met my ministerial colleague Lord Adonis, who leads for the Department on the subject, a number of times to discuss it.
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