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Following The Childrens Society report Stepping Up (August 2007) a cross-Departmental working group on young runaways was established, supported by a consultative group made up of experts from the voluntary sector. Immediate activities for the working group include consideration of data collection mechanisms which will best support the new indicator. I am expecting a progress report from the working group on this in June, and full technical consultation on the indicator will take place in autumn 2008.
In addition to developing the new indicator, the working group are also developing an action plan to be published in June which will set out ongoing actions for improvements to services for young runaways at local, regional and national level; reviewing the Missing from Care and Home guidance (2002) and carrying out a review of emergency accommodation provision for young runaways.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of (a) primary and (b) secondary schools have lunch breaks of less than 60 minutes; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: Our proposals would not introduce compulsory education, but compulsory participation in some form of learningyoung people will be able to participate in education, training, or a combination of employment and training.
The estimated costs and benefits of raising the participation age are set out in the Impact Assessment published alongside the Education and Skills Bill on 29 November. Annual costs were estimated at £774 million per cohort of young people, but recurring net benefits were estimated at around £1,626 million.
http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/publications/educationandskills/docs/lmpact_Assessment_Education_and_Skills_Bill.pdf and I have placed a copy in the House Library.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) whether his Department met its target to increase the uptake of school meals by March 2008; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) how much his Department and its predecessors spent on school meals provision in each financial year since 2000-01; and what its planned expenditure is in each financial year from 2008-09 to 2011-12; 
(4) how many and what proportion of pupils in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools had school meals in (i) 2001, (ii) 2004, (iii) 2005, (iv) 2006 and (v) 2007; what the equivalent figures are to date in 2008; what target has been set for school meal consumption in (A) 2009, (B) 2010 and (C) 2011; and if he will make a statement. 
Kevin Brennan: Increasing the take-up of school lunches remains a priority for this Department and for the School Food Trust (SFT), as demonstrated by the fact that it is one of the indicators in the new Child Health PSA and is one of the indicators in the National Indicator SetPSA 12 of the 2007 CSR (Improve the health and well-being of children and young people); and an indicator of the local government National Indicator Set (NIS) (NI52Take-up of school lunches).
The SFT is currently undertaking its third annual survey of school lunch take-up, which will provide information on the current position. The results of the survey will be announced at the Local Authority Caterers Association annual conference in July 2008.
The Department does not fund school meals provision. That is the responsibility of local
authorities, schools, parents and carers. However, this Government are investing £656 million to support school meals provision between 2005-11. This figure can be broken down as follows:
Kevin Brennan: The Government are taking forward a number of steps to help to keep down the price of school meals. We are investing over £650 million between 2005-11 to help raise nutritional standards and keep school lunch prices down. This funding is also being used to help build kitchens in areas with no kitchen facilities; to better support the development of training centres for the school food workforce; and to improve overall take-up.
The School Food Trust is working with manufacturers, caterers and schools to ensure the long term sustainability and efficiency of the countrys school food service. They are working with food producers and manufacturers to ensure that the nutrient menus have a minimum effect on the price of school meals as well as working on kitchen efficiencies, including both skilling the workforce and looking at international business models. The Trust has produced guidance focusing on efficient and sustainable school food procurement. This guidance is being distributed to all schools in April 2008.
The Department is working in close alliance with the Trust and other Departments, to identify opportunities and develop initiatives to further improve efficiencies in procurement. These include price benchmark variance reporting, common food standards and terms and conditions to support local and national competitive tendering, as well as the use of shared contracts from other Departments, where they can be shown to meet the needs of schools.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effects of selection by ability in local authority areas with grammar schools on educational provision; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: The Secretary of State has not made a comprehensive assessment of the effects of selection by ability in local authorities with grammar schools. We remain opposed to selection by ability and legislation prevents admission authorities from introducing new selection of this type. Grammar and partially selective schools already selecting in this way at the beginning of the 1997/98 academic year may continue to do so, with decisions on whether individual schools should continue to do so being made at a local level. Parents may object to the Adjudicator about continuing partial selection, and mechanisms are in place to allow parents to vote to remove selection at grammar schools.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans his Department has to collect information on oversubscription criteria used by schools admissions authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: The Secretary of State has asked the schools adjudicator to report to him on compliance with the statutory requirements on admissions, in respect of 2009 admission arrangements and annually thereafter. To inform his 2009 report, to be submitted to the Secretary of State on 1 September 2008, the adjudicator has written to all local authorities asking them to submit to him a full set of admission arrangements for all schools in their area, and their account of the legality, fairness and effectiveness of those arrangements. We will be tabling a government amendment to the Education and Skills Bill which would place a duty on local authorities to submit reports on school admissions to the schools adjudicator in future years which will assist him in producing future reports.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will place in the Library a copy of the legal advice his Department received on the publication of the school admissions review on 2 April 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: It is essential that Government departments have access to high quality and comprehensive legal advice. This allows for decisions to be taken in a fully informed context. It is vital that Ministers and officials are able to consult lawyers in confidence in order to obtain effective legal advice in a forum which is conducive to a candid exchange of views and consideration and assessment of potential risks without fear of disclosure. Disclosure of legal advice is very likely to prejudice the Governments ability to conduct its business effectively and to defend its legal interests, either by unfairly exposing its legal position to challenge or by reducing the reliance it can place on the advice it has received. For these reasons, disclosure of legal advice would not be in the public interest.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) for what reasons specialist schools are allowed to select up to 10 per cent. of pupils by aptitude; and if he will make a statement; 
Jim Knight: A school may select up to 10 per cent. of its intake by aptitude in prescribed subjects if the school considers it has a specialism, whether or not the school is a designated specialist school. It recognises the diversity of such schools, increases choices for parents and widens access to particular schools. We have published guidance in the school admissions code on aptitude selection which states that a child with aptitude is one who is identified as being able to benefit from teaching in a specific subject, or who demonstrates a particular capacity to succeed in that subject. Such selection is limited to subjects where there are recognised tests for aptitude which do not inadvertently identify high academic ability. Schools may also hold auditions or oral or practical tests to ascertain a child's aptitude. Prescribed subjects are modern foreign languages, performing or visual arts and physical education or sport. Schools may continue to select 10 per cent. by aptitude in design and technology and ICT if they already had such arrangements in place prior to the 2008 academic year.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what proportion of secondary schools are fully or partially selective by ability; and if he will make a statement; 
Jim Knight: There are 164 schools designated as grammar schools under section 104 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. We do not collect the data on the proportion of secondary schools which are fully or partially selective by ability. The 40 schools which the Department are aware of which the hon. Member refers to in his question are shown in the following table.
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