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24 Apr 2008 : Column 2218W—continued

The primary reason for the decline in UK ODA in 2007 is the result of lower levels of debt relief. In 2006 the UK gave more than £1.9 billion in debt relief, primarily to Nigeria; this fell to £35 million in 2007.

Despite the decline in 2007, the UK remains on target to provide 0.7 per cent. of gross national income (GNI) as ODA by 2013, two years ahead of the EU target.

Children, Schools and Families


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many children were (a) adopted and (b) taken into care in each year from 1978 to 2008; and if he will make a statement; [200993]

(2) how many children were taken into care in each local authority area in the latest year for which figures are available; what the rate was per 10,000 children in each such area; and if he will make a statement. [201459]

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Kevin Brennan: The information requested is as follows.

PQ 200993

Data on the number of children looked after by English local authorities who have been (a) adopted from care in each of the years ending 31 March 1995 to 2007, and (b) taken into care in each of the years ending 31 March 1996 to 2007 are shown in the following tables 1 and 2.

Table 1: Children looked after adopted during the years ending 31 March 1995 to 2007( 1,2,3) , England



























(1) Historical data may differ from older publications. This is mainly due to the implementation of amendments and corrections sent by some local authorities after the publication data of previous materials.
(2 )Between 1998 and 2000, the number of children adopted could only be estimated on the basis of a one-third sample as a proportion of the total number of children looked after. Since 2001 additional information has been collected on a 100 per cent. basis for looked after children who were adopted. Consequently, for 2001 to 2003, the exact number of adopted children is known and has been used to estimate the number of children in the age groups shown. These figures should therefore be treated with caution.
(3 )To maintain the confidentiality of each child, numbers below 1,000 have been rounded to the nearest 10 and numbers above 1,000 have been rounded to the nearest 100. As a consequence, figures may not sum to the total.
SSDA903 return on children looked after.

Table 2: Children looked after who were taken into care during the years ending 31 March 1996 to 2007( 1,2,,3,4) , England

























(1) Only the first occasion on which a child started to be looked after in the year has been collected.
(2) Figures exclude children looked after under an agreed series of short-term placements.
(3) Children who are deemed to be “taken” into care are those who started to be looked after as the result of a care order (full or interim), police protection, emergency protection order or child assessment order.
(4) To ensure that no individual can be identified from statistical tables, we use conventions for the rounding and suppression of very small amounts. All numbers which appear in national tables have been rounded to the nearest 100 if they exceed 1,000 and to the nearest 10 otherwise.
(5) Figures are taken from the SSDA903 return which in 1996 and 1997 as well as since 2003-04 has covered all children looked after.
(6 )Figures are derived from the SSDA903 one-third sample survey.
SSDA903 return on children looked after.

PQ 201459

The information requested has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

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Child Poverty Unit

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will publish the minutes of each meeting of the Child Poverty Unit since its establishment; and if he will make a statement. [201073]

Beverley Hughes: In October 2007 the Government established the DWP/DCSF Joint Child Poverty Unit to ensure that there is a clear cross Government approach to tackling child poverty.

The unit brings together the expertise of officials from DWP and DCSF and works closely with HMT and our key stakeholders to drive forward the child poverty agenda.

Since its formation, members of the unit have undertaken a large number of meetings with prominent members of the child poverty lobby, key think tanks and other stakeholders, as well as attending ministerial meetings.

Meetings are held routinely and on an ad hoc basis, as the unit seeks to reinvigorate the Government's child poverty strategy, to ensure we eradicate child poverty by 2020.

Flexibility is the key to the unit's success. Officials are co-located and work together on a daily basis. As a consequence is it not possible formally to minute each and every meeting that members of the unit undertake. To do so would place an additional burden on the unit's time and resources.

Children: Abuse

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what statutory requirements there are on (a) independent and (b) maintained schools to report allegations of child abuse to a local authority designated officer; and if he will make a statement. [201312]

Kevin Brennan: Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 imposes a statutory duty on both local authorities and the governing bodies of maintained schools to make arrangements to ensure that their functions are carried out with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and to have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State in considering such arrangements.

Section 157 of the Education Act 2002 and the Education (Independent Schools Standards) (England) Regulations 2003 impose a duty on independent schools to draw up and implement a policy to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils at the school.

These statutory duties are supported by guidance contained within Working Together to Safeguard Children, which was issued in April 2006, and Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education, which was issued in November 2006 and came into force in January 2007. Both documents set 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
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work with children. The guidance is clear that any allegations that fell 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.

Children: Asylum

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his most recent estimate is of the number of children in each local authority area who are the children of parents seeking asylum; and if he will make a statement. [201193]

Kevin Brennan: In order to respond to this question, the Department will need to gather information from other Government Departments. When the information is available I shall write to the hon. Member and place a copy of that letter in the House Library.

Children: Poverty

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what contribution his Department is making to meeting the Government's 2010 child poverty target; and if he will make a statement. [200995]

Beverley Hughes: Tackling child poverty is in everybody's interest and it needs to be everybody's business. On Budget Day we published “Ending child poverty: everybody's business” with the Government's strategy for halving child poverty by 2010 and eradicating it by 2020. The measures announced in the Budget will invest an additional £950 million and lift up to a further 250,000 additional children out of poverty from 2010-11, up to 500,000 in all when combined with announcements in last year's Budget and pre Budget report

The Joint Department for Children; Schools and Families and Department for Work and Pensions Child Poverty Unit we created last year is coordinating work across Government to support families to escape poverty by increasing employment and raising incomes for those who can work. And last year's Budget and the Children's Plan set out further policies and measures to improve children's life chances and invest in improving services for children to enable them to break the cycle of poverty from generation to generation.

Departmental Marketing

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his Department's budget for publicity and advertising (a) was in 2007-08 and (b) is for 2008-09; and if he will make a statement. [201126]

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Kevin Brennan: The budget for publicity and advertising for DCSF for (a) 2007-08; and (b) 2008-09 is as follows:

£ million






Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the provision of specialist dyslexia teaching in the light of the report of the No to Failure project on screening for dyslexia and specific learning difficulties. [201226]

Kevin Brennan: All local authorities and schools must have regard to the special educational needs code of practice which provides advice on their statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for pupils' special educational needs. Children with dyslexia should have their needs identified and support put in place in the same way as children with other special educational needs (SEN).

To identify and promote best practice, we are working with the British Dyslexia Association, Dyslexia Action, Xtraordinary People and the Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties on the No to Failure project. This project is supporting trailblazer schools in three local authority areas, where children are screened and specialist teaching provided to those identified at risk of dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. We are supporting this project with just over £1 million funding over three years.

The recently published report from No to Failure says that a significant proportion of children in the trailblazers not achieving expected levels of attainment are at risk of dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties. However, the report does not indicate how many had already been identified with SEN, nor does it evaluate the impact of specialist teaching on children's progression. We are looking forward to seeing the final report later this year, which we understand will contain such an evaluation.

Through No to Failure, we have commissioned Dr. Chris Singleton to summarise published research on the impact of specialist dyslexia teaching. We will consider whether and how we should promote specialist dyslexia teaching as best practice in the light of evidence of its impact.

To help those working in schools with identifying and supporting children with dyslexia, last October we launched the inclusion development programme, which is offering professional development in key areas of SEN starting with training on communication difficulties, including dyslexia. The inclusion development programme materials were developed in close consultation with dyslexia organisations.

We are also providing £150,000 over two years for the British Dyslexia Association to enhance their helpline's service to teachers, and 250,000 over three years for Dyslexia Action to run Partnership for Literacy pilots in a further 10 schools.

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Free School Meals

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of providing school dinners free of charge to all pupils in (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools; [201041]

(2) what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of extending entitlement to free school meals to all pupils (a) in primary schools, (b) in secondary schools and (c) aged four to 18 years. [201088]

Kevin Brennan: The Department estimates that the cost of providing school meals free of charge to all pupils in (a) primary schools is approximately £1.2 billion, and (b) secondary schools is approximately £1 billion. The primary figure includes pupils aged four. Therefore, for pupils in schools aged 4-18 in schools, we estimate the cost to be £2.2 billion.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many times the Parents Panel has met since it was established; what conclusions it has reached; if he will publish the minutes of the panel's meetings; and what the cost of the panel has been. [200992]

Beverley Hughes: We are currently in the process of tendering for an organisation to run the Parents Panel and a survey to provide information on parents’ confidence in their ability to help their children to thrive and in the support services available to them. Panel members will be recruited in a way that ensures the panel is as representative of parents as possible. We expect to hold the first meeting of the Parents Panel in autumn 2008.

In the meantime, we are convening a group of 36 parents to discuss key issues arising from the children's plan. This parents group will meet on 15 May and 9 July and is made up from parents who attended the recent Time to Talk events on the children's plan.

The cost of running the two parents group events is just over £75,000. This includes: recruiting parents; providing facilities for the meetings; organising and facilitating the events; developing stimulus materials; providing an on-line forum for parents’ discussion before and between meetings; contributing to parents’ out of pocket expenses.

We will publish the findings of both the parents and the parents group.

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