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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of progress to date in regional pathfinders established under the Primary Capital programme. 
Jim Knight: The Department has benefited enormously from the positive working relationship with the 23 regional pathfinders. They were particularly influential in helping to develop, test and refine the guidance we issued to local authorities in December 2007 on the requirement to develop and agree a Primary Strategy for Change. Most pathfinders have confirmed that they remain on track to complete their projects by the end of September 2009. They have also been very helpful in terms of developing and sharing good practice both nationally and regionally: the primary capital programme area of the teachernet website currently includes a range of good practice examples and case studies developed by the pathfinders. Further materials will be added over the coming weeks.
Going forward, we will continue to work closely with pathfinders to ensure that the lessons learned in terms of design quality, sustainability and impact on outcomes informs the future development and roll out of the programme nationally.
Jim Knight: The Departments Efficiency and Value for Money team held a series of interactive seminars aimed primarily at local authority education finance staff and auditors in October 2008. A total of six seminars were held; two in London and one each in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Taunton.
The seminars covered a wide range of Value for Money for Schools issues, including the Financial Management Standard in School (FMSiS), strategic
planning, procurement, handling surplus school balances, the free consultancy advice day for schools, development of School Business Managers, and other recent issues related to improving Value for Money in schools.
Jim Knight: In April 2008 the Department commissioned Hedra to evaluate the Financial Management Standard in Schools (FMSiS) with particular reference to secondary schools. The report and recommendations were published in full on 20 October 2008 at:
The report noted the achievement of 76 per cent. of secondary schools having met the standard by 31 March 2007. The Department is now in the process of implementing the recommendations in partnership with local authorities and schools.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the progress made under the school efficiency measurement pilots; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: The Department has made major developments to efficiency measures over recent years and research carried out in summer 2006 indicated that the measures currently used are effective in identifying schools which achieve high levels of performance from the resources available.
Building on these developments, the Department worked with three local authorities to pilot the use of efficiency benchmarking, thus strengthening the critical link between allocation of resources and pupil outcomes.
In light of the pilot it was agreed that roll out of the efficiency measurement tool in its existing form would not be appropriate. Refinements to the measures and alternative ways of presenting the results will be sought before measures are used on the Schools Financial Benchmarking website.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the findings contained in Ofsteds report on schools that have successfully emerged from special measures. 
Jim Knight: Ofsted published Sustaining improvement: the journey from special measures in June 2008. We want to see more schools making the transformation from special measures to become either good or outstanding schools within one or two academic years. The report shows that if schools placed in special measures are willing to face up to the need for change and take appropriate action, they can improve very quickly and become outstanding schools
Several common themes were identified as having a significant impact including strong leadership and setting high expectations, the creation of a school identity which takes in the views of all members of the school community and sustaining improvement by using honest and accurate self assessment.
The report recommended that the Department should ensure that schools clearly understand how any external support can contribute to school improvement and consider ways to capitalise on the experience and expertise of head teachers who have successfully made the journey from special measures to good or outstanding provision.
In partnership with local authorities, the Department ensures that support is carefully matched to each schools requirements and the National Strategies closely monitors the impact of the support provided. Wherever possible we use the experience of successful head teachers to inform policy developments.
Jim Knight: Project Enthuse bursaries have been available for teachers to attend continuing professional development courses at the National Science Learning Centre since October 2008. So far nearly 4,000 training days have been booked on Enthuse funded courses at the National Science Learning Centre for the academic year 2008-09.
This builds on the previous success of the National Science Learning Centre which was highlighted in the recent evaluation of the National Network of Science Learning Centres. The evaluation found that a 94 per cent. of teachers were satisfied with the service delivered by the National Science Learning Centre. A further evaluation has been commissioned.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many secondary schools had (a) 1,500 or more and (b) 2,000 or more pupils in each of the last 10 years, broken down by local authority. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of mainstream maintained secondary schools inspected by Ofsted in (a) 2008 and (b) 2007 held end of year examinations
at the end of Year 7 in (i) English, (ii) mathematics, (iii) history, (iv) geography, (v) science and (vi) French. 
Beverley Hughes: Information on children receiving support from children's services is collected in the child level Children in Need (CIN) census. The latest information from the CIN census showed that there were 385,900 children in need in England in a sample week in February 2005.
The CIN census has been redeveloped into a continuous data collection. Initial information from the new census, which started in October 2008, will be collected in summer 2009 and published towards the end of the year.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps Paul Gray has taken to improve Doncaster children's services since his appointment as Interim Director of Children's Services in April 2008. 
Beverley Hughes: Paul Gray does not report directly to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. In response to the inadequate judgments in Doncaster's 2008 annual performance assessment, Doncaster was informed on 9 January 2009 that I have instructed Department for Children, Schools and Families officials to commission a review to diagnose the underlying causes of inadequate performance in Doncaster's children's services. One of the outcomes of this review will be an assessment of steps that have been taken by Paul Gray and Doncaster to improve children's services since his appointment in April 2008, the extent to which these are sustainable and embedded, and whether these are sufficient to address satisfactorily those root causes of inadequate performance.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when his officials will complete their diagnostic review of Doncaster's children's services; and whether their findings will be made public. 
Beverley Hughes: In response to the inadequate judgments in Doncaster's 2008 annual performance assessment, Doncaster was informed on 9 January 2009 that Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) officials will commission a review to diagnose the underlying causes of inadequate performance in Doncaster's children's services. I expect the review to be completed by mid March 2009. The findings of the review will be made available shortly thereafter.
Beverley Hughes: Parent Support Advisers (PSAs) are one of a range of professionals employed by schools, local authorities or other organisations to work in and across schools to support parents and help them to engage in their child's learning. They can help tackle pupil underachievement, remove barriers to learning and provide access to a full range of learning activities for parents.
Local authorities report that there are 2,254 PSAs (or equivalents) in post. These posts are funded through a variety of routes locally and this Government committed an additional £102.5 million between 2008 and 2011 to expand the availability of PSA support to parents.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what assessment he has made of the progress of the Children's Workforce Development Council in setting the baseline for developing a newly qualified status for children's social workers from September 2008; and if he will make a statement; 
Beverley Hughes: The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has asked the Children's Workforce Development Council to deliver a programme of pilots to support social workers who work with children and families. This includes the Newly Qualified Social Worker pilot programme which is now running in 86 organisations. The first cohort of Newly Qualified Social Workers started on the programme, on time, in autumn 2008. The evaluators for the programme are in place and are currently collecting baseline data from participants and their employers. The first report from the evaluators is due in spring 2009.
The Remodelling the Delivery of Social Work pilots commenced in spring 2008. The Regional Recruitment and Retention pilots in areas of the country with the most acute vacancy and turnover problems are still in development.
In the Children and Young People's Workforce Strategy 2020, the Government announced the establishment of a joint DCSF and Department of Health (DH) Social Work Taskforce as a crucial first step in a long-term programme to reform social work. At the same time, the Government announced Moira Gibb, Chief Executive of Camden council and a former social worker, as Task Force chair, and, as deputy chairs, Andrew Webb, Director of Children's Services, Stockport; and Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of the Children's Society. In discussion with the taskforce chair, the Secretaries of State for DCSF and DH are currently considering the membership of the taskforce and will announce the membership shortly.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the 14 to 19 diplomas in widening access to higher education. 
Jim Knight: Teaching of the first five diploma lines began in September 2008. The first advanced diploma holders to enter higher education are expected to do so in 2010, and so they have yet to apply. Diplomas have been developed for students of all abilities, but it is too early to assess the effectiveness of the diplomas in widening access, and indeed a full assessment would only be possible in the years after 2010 as diploma holder numbers grow.
Jim Knight: 138 mainstream schools and 57 special schools successfully applied to join the Specialist Schools Programme in the 2007-08 school year and were funded from September 2008. Full details of the schools are set out in the following table.
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