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Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent representations he has received from (a) hon. Members, (b) members of the House of Lords, (c) members of the teaching professions and (d) members of the public expressing concern about the maintenance of standards of (i) advanced level examinations and (ii) GCSE examinations; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: Since the beginning of August my Department has received 22 letters on issues related to exam standardsfour from Members of Parliament, six from teachers and lecturers and 12 from other members of the public. These expressed a range of views, including support for the recognition of attainment as well as concern.
It is for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) as the qualifications regulator to oversee the awarding process to ensure that standards are comparable both between different qualifications and overtime. There is no evidence that overall standards have not been maintained. Nevertheless the debate about standards continues from year-to-year and we have acknowledged that the fact that the QCA reports to Ministers can make it harder to demonstrate that it is acting wholly independently in carrying out its regulatory role. That is why we have announced that we will legislate to create a new independent regulator of qualifications and tests, building on the QCAs achievements in this area.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many (a) primary and (b) secondary schools have received a formal warning from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority about the way they conduct their national tests; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is statutorily obliged to investigate any matter brought to its attention relating to the accuracy or correctness of the results of any pupil in respect of the statutory Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 National Curriculum tests. Such matters are referred to as allegations of maladministration. This remit is carried out by the National Assessment Agency (NAA), part of the QCA, with the aim of safeguarding the integrity of the tests and the interests of pupils.
The NAAs remit in investigating cases of alleged maladministration is to determine whether there is doubt over the correctness or accuracy of pupil results. The
NAA does not issue formal warnings. The sanction applied where a case of maladministration is proven is the annulment or change of results for individual pupils or for the whole school. The 2007 maladministration report is available to view at: www.naa.org.uk/tests and a copy will be placed in the House Library.
Jim Knight [holding answer 28 February 2008]: Arts education is firmly placed in the national curriculum, for example in music, art, dance and drama. Creativity and creative skills are a key part of the curriculum from foundation stage right through to secondary education and the new secondary curriculum will allow schools greater opportunities to support creativity.
Creativity has featured increasingly in the Governments schools policies since 1997, and we have supported a number of very successful initiatives aimed at giving young people the chance to engage with culture and the arts and develop creative skills. Examples include:
Artsmark, set up in 2001 to encourage schools to increase their range of arts provision;
Creative Partnerships set up in 2002 to give children the chance to develop their creativity by working with creative practitioners and cultural organisations. We are investing over £110 million to expand the programme over the next three years;
The Music Manifesto launched in 2004, a partnership with an agreed set of aims to improve music education for all children and young people, whose report led to a further investment in music of £332 million over three years announced in November 2007;
Initiatives such as the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto and the setting up of extended schools, supporting schools to offer extra activities to pupils, including creative and arts activities in and out of school and outside school hours.
The Creative and Cultural Education Advisory Board that we set up in response to Paul Roberts 2006 review of creativity, has helped us bring together the cultural and education sectors. This is key to the development of a longer term cultural offer that we announced in the Childrens Plan. We are committed to working towards a position where all children and young people have the opportunities to develop their creative abilities, and to access high quality arts and cultural activities in and out of school. On 13 February 2008 we announced the Find Your Talent programme that will be piloted in ten areas around the country. There is already much cultural and creative activity taking place in and out of school and the pilots will build on this, to make sure all children and young people have the opportunity to take part in creative and cultural activities. It will give children and young people the chance to discover and develop their talents. The intention is, ultimately, to offer five hours of arts and culture a week. The pilots will give us the information we need to make decisions about rolling out the offer nationally.
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department has taken to increase internet access for children in low income (a) families and (b) communities in (i) West Lancashire constituency and (ii) England. 
Jim Knight: A number of initiatives have been set up to widen access to the internet for low-income families. These recently include Computers for Pupils and Home Access. The Computers for Pupils programme and its current successor has provided £90 million worth of support for children in disadvantaged families.
The Home Access Task Force is considering the potential for a sustainable long-term solution to support all children in having appropriate access and is due to provide final advice to Ministers in April 2008.
Beverley Hughes: We have published our strategy for halving child poverty by 2010 most recently in the Child Poverty PSA Delivery Agreement (published November 2007), the DWP Command Paper Ready for work: full employment in our generation, and the DCSF Childrens Plan (both published in December 2007).
To date our strategy has focused on fiscal and welfare reform measures to increase employment levels for parents, with most policy focus on lone parents and increasing financial support through the benefit and tax systems.
Significant progress has been made; there are now 600,000 fewer children living in poverty than in 1998/99. Since 1997 the proportion of children living in workless households has fallen from 18.7 per cent. to 16 per cent. in Quarter 2 of 2007this is a reduction of 405,000.
Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether funding provided by his Department to local authorities for children centres and Sure Start programmes is ring-fenced for existing programmes. 
The Sure Start, early years and child care grant, paid to local authorities, includes funding for Sure Start childrens centres and is ring-fenced. Within that grant funding for Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs), and childrens centres based on Sure Start
Local Programmes, is further ring-fenced and can be used only for services in SSLPs, and Sure Start childrens centres based on SSLPs.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) in which areas the schemes to provide every child with five hours of culture a week are being piloted; and how many children will be involved in these pilot schemes; 
Jim Knight: On 13 February 2008 we announced a Find Your Talent programme of 10 pilots that will trial ways of delivering a structured five hours a week cultural offer There is already much cultural activity taking place in and out of school and the pilots will build on this, to make sure all children and young people have the opportunity to take part in cultural activities.
We have published a prospectus seeking expressions of interest from partnerships in local areas around the country, setting out a core range of activities we believe young people should be able to engage with. However, this is very much a minimum and we expect additional cultural experiences to be offered. We are looking for innovative bids that will test different ways of delivering a variety of approaches to a comprehensive cultural offer over the next three years, including how the five hour offer can be delivered. The pilots will give us the information we need to make decisions about rolling out the offer nationally.
Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what additional teaching and financial resources are being made available to primary and secondary schools to help them meet the educational needs of children who do not have English as a first language in 2007-08. 
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what percentage of school children in (a) England and (b) each parliamentary constituency received free school meals in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: The available information can be found in the following table, this has been taken from table 9 of the SFR National Curriculum Assessment, GCSE and Equivalent Attainment and Post-16 Attainment by Pupil Characteristics, in England 2006/07, which is available on the Departments website via the following link:
|Achievements of level 3 qualifications by free school meals and gender, 2007, England, students in maintained schools only|
|Number of 16 to 18-year-old candidates||Average point score per candidate||Average point score per entry|
|(1) Includes information refused or not obtained.|
National Pupil Database.
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of pupils who obtained level 4 or above at Key Stage 2 in 2002 obtained five GCSEs at A* to C grade in 2007. 
75 per cent. of pupils with Level 4 or above in KS2 English achieved five GCSEs or equivalent qualifications at grades A*-C;
75 per cent. of pupils with Level 4 or above in KS2 maths achieved five GCSEs or equivalent qualifications at grades A*-C;
79 per cent. of pupils with Level 4 or above in both KS2 English and KS2 maths achieved five GCSEs or equivalent qualifications at grades A*-C.
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of pupils in receipt of free school meals gained five A* to C at GCSE, including English, science, mathematics and a foreign language in each of the last three years. 
|Total number of pupils||Number achieving 5+A*-C inc. English, mathematics, Science and a foreign language||Percentage achieving 5+A*-C inc. English, mathematics, Science and a foreign language||Number achieving 5+A*-C inc. English, mathematics and Science||Percentage achieving 5+A*-C inc. English, mathematics and Science|
1. Based on pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 in maintained schools.
2. Figures for 5+ A*-C include GCSE and other equivalent qualifications approved for use pre-16.
Figures for English, Mathematics, Science and a foreign language are based on GCSEs only.
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