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Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many days of unauthorised absence were recorded in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in West Chelmsford constituency in each of the last five years. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Information is not available in the form requested. The available information on the number of days of unauthorised absence in Essex local authority for the last five years is shown in the table. To provide data at constituency level would incur disproportionate cost.
|Primary and secondary schools( 1,2) number of days of unauthorised absence 2003/04 to 2007/08Essex local authority|
|Primary( 1)||Secondary( 1,2)|
|(1) Includes middle schools as deemed.|
(2) Includes city technology colleges and academies.
(3) Figures have been sourced from the Absence in Schools Survey. Other figures are derived from School Census returns.
Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10
Absence in School Survey and School Census (3)
Schools have a duty to promote race equality and it is compulsory for schools to have measures in place to prevent and tackle bullying, whatever the motivation. In March 2006 we published specialist guidance on bullying around race, religion and culture which focused on preventing and tackling racist bullying
in schools. We are funding the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the national strategies to ensure this work is embedded in schools.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department's steps to tackle racist bullying in schools; and if he will make a statement. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: We have introduced an indicator on bullying that underpins the child safety public service agreement (PSA 13, NI69), and made it clear that we expect the proportion of children and young people who experience bullying to go down over the spending review period. We have made clear that we will monitor progress on this indicator using the annual TellUs survey. The Department has also set up a board to monitor progress against the PSA. The board will look at a range of evidence and data to ensure that we are making satisfactory progress against this indicator including evidence in respect of bullying related to race. We will seek to ensure that the level of racist bullying goes down in line with any general reduction.
We are funding the Anti-Bullying Alliance and national strategies to help drive improvements in anti-bullying practice on the ground. Both organisations are working with local authorities and schools to ensure the Department's Safe to Learn guidance, including the guidance on 'Bullying Related to Race Religion and Culture, is effectively implemented on the ground.
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Department works with the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the National Strategies to help schools counter racist bullying, and we have sought advice from the Runnymede Trust on our new and emerging policy initiatives. In addition, many of our other external partners, including ChildLine in Partnership with Schools and Beatbullying, have taken forward various programmes and initiatives with a specific focus on racist bullying.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the availability of professional development opportunities for teachers in relation to prevention of racist bullying. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Department's anti-bullying guidance recommends that schools review general and specific staff induction and continuing professional development and identify how to ensure staff training reflects the anti-bullying policy and practice of the school. Funding for teachers' professional development is included within schools' delegated budgets which enables them to take decisions about what professional development best meets their and their teachers' needs.
The national strategies work closely with behaviour and attendance consultants in local authorities to identify staff training needs. They look at whether this should include staff training in tackling racist bullying, as part of their work.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many racist incidents were recorded in schools in (a) Leicester City local education authority and (b) England in each of the last five years. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: We are unable to provide figures for the number of racist bullying incidents in schools as this information is not collected centrally. Our bullying guidance recommends currently that schools record incidents of bullying and use the data to monitor their anti-bullying policies, and that local authorities use the data to identify trends and to evaluate area-wide initiatives. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 places a general, enforceable duty on all schools (and other public bodies) to: eliminate unlawful racial discrimination; promote equality of opportunity; and promote good relations between people of different racial groups.
We intend to introduce a new statutory duty on schools to record all incidents of bullying between pupils early next year, and will specifically consult on whether schools should be obliged to record racist bullying incidents and report these incidents to their local authority.
Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will meet representatives of the British Ceramics Confederation to discuss the contribution of ceramic table and catering ware to the Healthy Schools Programme. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I shall ask my officials from the National Healthy Schools programme to arrange a meeting with members of the British Ceramics Confederation to explore this proposal in more detail.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding his Department provided for schools in Crosby constituency in the last five years; and what building projects relating to schools have been undertaken in Crosby constituency in each of those years. 
Jim Knight: Capital funding for schools is allocated on a local authority rather than on a constituency basis. Accordingly, records are kept on a local authority basis. Funding allocated to Sefton local authority in the past five years is set out in the following table.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what estimate he has made of the number of computers per child in primary schools in (a) Crosby constituency, (b) Merseyside and (c) England. 
Jim Knight: In 2008 there was an average of 27 computers per primary school in England. This is equivalent to one computer for every 6.25 pupils. We do not have localised figures for the constituency of Crosby or for Merseyside.
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Although the illegal use of knives on school premises is not widespread, in May 2007 we introduced a power for head teachers in England to search, without consent, any pupil they suspected of carrying a weapon, the purpose being to help reduce the number of knives carried on the streets. Schools also have the powers to screen pupils at random using electronic screens or arches. Most recently, we have been encouraging schools to engage with local police in safer school partnerships in order to arrange the screening of pupils in more troubled locations.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding has been provided for schools in Leyton and Wanstead constituency in the last five years; and what building projects relating to schools have been undertaken in that constituency in each of those years. 
Waltham Forest is also benefiting from Building Schools for the Future investment. It is currently estimated that this investment will total around £250 million. In addition, Redbridge was allocated a BSF One School Pathfinder project in 2007-08, to a value of £40 million.
James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) on how many occasions schools have exercised the power to screen randomly pupils using metal detectors in arches or hand-held wands since October 2006; and how many weapons have been recovered as a result of such searches; 
(2) how many searches without consent have been conducted by schools of pupils suspected of carrying a weapon since May 2007; and how many weapons have been recovered as a result of such searches. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The Department does not collect figures on searching. Our inquiries over time suggest that few head teachers are utilising the power to search any pupil they suspect of carrying a weapon but the power is available should they decide such action is appropriate for their school. We have encouraged schools, through directors of children's services, to liaise with the police in safer school partnerships over random screening but we believe such screenings remain low in number, although figures are not collected.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if his Department will bring forward proposals to make GCSE science courses more interesting and challenging for pupils. 
Jim Knight: A new programme of study for science at Key Stage 4 was introduced into schools for first teaching from September 2006. The new curriculum maintains the breadth, depth and challenge of the previous curriculum, but has a better balance between knowledge and understanding. Pupils now learn more about the applications and implications of science (for example, global warming and genetic screening).
GCSE specifications were also revised from September 2006 to reflect the new programme of study. The Qualification and Curriculum Authority is currently reviewing the GCSE science criteria again with a view to revised specifications being taught from September 2011: these changes will ensure that the content remains up to date and engaging, and will address concerns about the level of challenge in some assessments identified in the recent Ofqual review of the 2006 specifications. Awarding bodies have also made changes to this summers assessments in response to the Ofqual report.
|Type of education||Middle deemed secondary schools||Secondary schools||Grand total|
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