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7 May 2008 : Column 954W—continued


Departmental Cost Effectiveness

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what Gershon savings his Department and its predecessor have made since 1 April 2005. [202107]

Ed Balls: My Department is jointly committed with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), to the efficiency target set originally for the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

The DfES target is 2.5 per cent. a year over the Spending Review 2004 period. This means being able to demonstrate cumulative gains against our baseline of £1.45 billion in 2005-06, £2.9 billion in 2006-07 and £4.35 billion in 2007-08.

Details of the specific initiatives which contribute to the joint DIUS/DCSF Gershon efficiency target are set out in the DfES Efficiency Technical Note, which is available on the DCSF’s website:

My Department will be reporting progress towards the DfES Gershon target in the Departmental Report 2008. This is about to be published in May 2008. Progress towards the target was last reported in the DCSF Autumn Performance Report, published in December 2007.

Departmental Freedom of Information

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many freedom of information requests made to his Department were (a) answered (i) within 20 days, (ii) within 40 days, (iii) within 60 days, (iv) after 60 days, (b) not answered and (c) answered citing an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as a reason not to provide the requested information in each year since the Act came into force. [201719]

Kevin Brennan: The Ministry of Justice has published two annual reports containing statistical information on freedom of information requests received by monitored bodies (including central Government Departments) in 2005 and 2006. These reports can be found at the following address:

The 2007 annual report is currently being drafted for publication in June 2008. However, statistics on requests received in each quarter of 2007 have been published and can be found via the MOJ website:

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires public bodies to respond to written requests within 20
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working days of receipt, but allows additional time for the consideration of the public interest in disclosing the requested information.

The published reports provide statistics on the number of “non-routine” requests received during each period where: an initial response was provided within 20 working days; an initial response was given outside this time but a public interest test extension had been applied; an initial response was given outside this time and no public interest test extension was applied, and where no initial response had been given at the time the statistics were collected.

The 2006 annual report provides statistics on the duration of the public interest test extensions in that year. Corresponding statistics for 2007 will be available when the 2007 annual report is published.

Information requests where deadlines were extended beyond 40 days is not collected in the form requested; however the proportion of resolvable requests the Department answered “in time” (i.e. meeting the deadline or with a permitted extension) in 2007 was 92 per cent.

For 2005 and 2006, the reports show the number of requests received by the Department which were withheld, either in full or in part, where an FOI exemption or EIR exception was applied. For 2007, the number of such requests was 66, based on aggregated quarterly statistics from 2007. Requests withheld solely under the exemption applicable to “information available by other means” are not included; statistics on these are not collected centrally because they are dealt with as routine business.

Females

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what proportion of permanent staff in his Department and its predecessors were female in each year since 1997. [202854]

Kevin Brennan: The latest figures available (31 December 2007) show that my Department has 2,900 permanent staff, of which 1,693 are female representing 58 per cent. of all permanent staff.

The Department was formed as part of the Machinery of Government changes of 28 June 2007. It is therefore not exactly comparable to its predecessor, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), but figures for earlier years for DfES can be found in the Civil Service Statistics Archive:

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what proportion of female permanent staff in his Department and its predecessors worked (a) part-time and (b) flexibly in each year since 1997. [202865]

Kevin Brennan: The latest figures available (31 December 2007) record 2,900 permanent staff in my Department, of which 1,693 are female (58 per cent. of all permanent staff). Of these 411 worked part-time, representing 24 per cent. of all female permanent staff.

As well as part-time working, the Department encourages a range of other flexible working patterns for all staff, including flexitime. The Department was
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formed as part of the Machinery of Government changes of 28 June 2007. It is therefore not exactly comparable to its predecessor, the Department for Education and Skills, but it does build on a wide range of flexible working patterns first developed in the previous Department. Figures for earlier years can be found in the Civil Service Statistics Archive:

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what proportion of female senior civil servants in his Department and its predecessors worked (a) part-time and (b) flexibly in each year since 1997. [202868]

Kevin Brennan: At 31 December 2007 my Department had 48 female staff (45.3 per cent.) out of a total of 106 staff in the senior civil service. Four out of the 48 women (8.3 per cent.) in the senior civil service work part-time. In addition to part-time working, other flexible arrangements are available to staff.

The Department was formed as part of the Machinery of Government changes announced on 28 June 2007. Although not directly comparable due to staff changes, its predecessor was the Department for Education and Skills which had 131 staff in the senior civil service, of which 53 were female at December 2006. Seven out of 53 women (13.2 per cent.) worked part-time at that point. Figures for earlier years can be found in the Civil Service Statistics Archive:

Foster Care

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans he has to implement multi-dimensional treatment foster care across England; what assessment he has made of the pilot schemes; and if he will make a statement. [203828]

Kevin Brennan: Multidimensional treatment foster care (MTFC) is an intervention for looked after children and young people with complex needs who are already displaying severe levels of challenging and antisocial behaviour or who are experiencing high levels of placement instability. The first grant-funded pilot programmes were developed for adolescents and have been followed by those for younger children. The programme for adolescents is being rigorously evaluated through a randomised controlled trial (RCT). This is a complex evaluation as it is one of the first such trials to be conducted in services for looked after children and will report early in 2010. It will help us establish whether this treatment intervention is more effective and cost-effective than services as usual for this very vulnerable group of looked after children. Depending on the findings we will consider what further capacity should be developed to meet the needs of looked after children and young people. While waiting for the evaluation results we are conducting an annual audit of progress to provide feedback to pilot sites and learn from experiences to date.


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Pre-school Education: Research

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much his Department spent on research related to the education of children under the age of five in each of the last five years. [202875]

Beverley Hughes: Figures on the Department’s expenditure on research on children and families, for each financial year since 2003, are given in the following table. These figures incorporate expenditure on research related to the education of children under the age of five.

£

2003-04

6,470,918

2004-05

10,709,782

2005-06

10,273,893

2006-07

12,073,234

2007-08

10,681,787


In 2007-08, approximately £5 million of this money was spent on research related to early years. Expenditure on research specifically related to the education of children under the age of five for earlier years could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

School Meals

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what regulations govern the supply of (a) subsidised and (b) free lunches by schools; and if he will make a statement. [202813]

Kevin Brennan: There are no regulations governing the supply of subsidised school lunches.

Section 512ZA of the Education Act 1996, as amended by Section 201 of the Education Act 2002; The Education (Free School Lunches) (Prescribed Tax Credits) (England) Order 2003; and The Education (Free School Lunches) (State Pension Credit) Order 2005, covers free school lunches where a pupil has an entitlement.

Section 87 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 amended Sections 512ZA and 533 of the Education Act 1996, to change the duty placed on local authorities and school governing bodies to charge for school lunches into a power to charge. This enables them to provide school lunches free of charge if they choose to do so.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what estimate he has made of margins of error in the collection of statistics on the take-up of school meals in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement; [203107]

(2) what methods have been used by the School Food Trust to assess the rate of take-up of school meals in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008 to date; and if he will make a statement. [203108]

Kevin Brennan: We have made no estimate on the margin of error in the collection of statistics on the take-up of school meals in each of the last five years, as we do not collect these statistics. Since 2006, the School Food Trust (SFT) has undertaken an annual survey of
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local authorities, which has asked them to provide information about school lunch take-up, both primary and secondary, in their area.

Survey reports are available on the Trust’s website at:

(2007). The findings indicate the numbers of local authorities (LAs) and numbers of schools within those LAs to which the data on take up of meals relates.

The 2008 annual survey is under way. Questionnaires have been sent to all LAs in England. LAs have been asked to report take up data for all schools in their Authority. Results are expected in July.

Schools: Construction

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps the Government has taken to reduce the administrative burden involved in the construction of new schools since 1997. [203733]

Jim Knight: This Department does not determine the legislative framework for the construction industry. We are now providing record amounts of capital support for investment in schools, a sevenfold increase in real terms between 1997 and 2010. A key aim in providing this investment is to ensure the best value for money for the taxpayer. Some systems must be in place to ensure proper Government control of public finance. Areas which we must address include that local authorities have a robust strategic vision for the delivery of education in their areas, that the investment we are providing supports this and is prioritised to need, and that procurement efficiencies are achieved. Our aim is to keep requirements to a minimum commensurate with proper management.

Measures we have taken to keep bureaucracy to a minimum include:


7 May 2008 : Column 959W

At all times, it is our intention to keep the management requirements for all programmes to a minimum, to provide effective guidance and support where it is needed, and to learn and improve continuously. For instance, by effective engagement with authorities about to enter Building Schools for the Future, Partnerships for Schools has shortened by six months their lead-in time.

SEEVIC College

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what progress has been made on the development proposals for SEEVIC College in Castle Point; and if he will make a statement. [203644]


7 May 2008 : Column 960W

Bill Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

SEEVIC college has prepared an application in principle for the redevelopment of its Benfleet campus. The application in principle is due to be submitted to the Learning and Skills Council local office before the end of May.

Teachers: Pay

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the minimum starting rate of pay was for a newly qualified teacher in each year since 1996, expressed in 2006-07 prices. [201043]

Jim Knight: The information requested is given in the following table:

Comparison of teachers' pay 1996 to 2007—minimum starting pay for a newly qualified teacher
England and Wales Inner London
Actual salary unadjusted for inflation (£) Percentage increase in real terms since 1 April 1996 Actual salary unadjusted for inflation (£) Percentage increase in real terms since 1 April 1996

1996

April

12,342

0.00

14,346

0.00

December

12,462

0.97

14,484

0.96

1997

April

12,711

0.06

14,772

0.04

December

12,873

1.34

14,961

1.32

1998

April

13,131

0.82

15,261

0.80

December

13,362

2.59

15,528

2.57

1999

April

14,658

10.31

16,899

9.41

2000

April

15,141

12.35

17,457

11.44

2001

April

16,038

16.22

19,038

18.69

2002

April

16,599

16.64

19,704

19.12

September

17,595

23.64

20,700

25.14

2003

April

18,105

23.64

21,522

26.44

2004

April

18,558

23.33

22,059

26.11

2005

April

19,023

23.75

22,611

26.54

September

19,161

24.65

23,001

28.73

2006

September

19,641

24.36

23,577

28.43

2007

September

20,133

23.46

24,168

27.50

Source:
Deflator series: 28 March 2008, 2006-07 prices

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