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Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are aware of reports of UK citizens travelling overseas for "Jihad" training, and of allegations that these individuals then take part in conflicts in different parts of the world. There is no evidence of any breach of UK laws.

18 May 2000 : Column WA37

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support a final resolution of the Kashmir conflict; and what steps they have taken in this regard.[HL2312]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We fully support India and Pakistan in their search for a solution in Kashmir. We continue to encourage them to return to dialogue to find a just and lasting solution acceptable to the people of Kashmir.

Nuclear Disarmament

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will adopt and implement the Model Convention on the prohibition of the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons and on their elimination contained in Security and Survival--The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, issued by the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and others.[HL2318]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: As I made clear to my noble friend on 12 April 2000, (WA 188), the Government do not believe the circumstances yet exist to make starting negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention a practical proposition.

Over Thirty Months Scheme: Weight Limit

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the weight limit on payments for cattle entering the Over Thirty Months Scheme will be removed.[HL2515]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): On 12 May the Beef Management Committee agreed to a Commission proposal to remove the weight limit on payments for all cattle entering the Over Thirty Months Scheme. This will take effect for all cattle entering the scheme on or after 5 June. This delivers on a key element of the Government's Action Plan for Farming. It is worth £20 million a year in payments to UK farmers and will also increase asset values. It will be of particular benefit to those running suckler herds.

Non-attendance at School: Parental Fines

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many parents have been found guilty and fined in connection with the offence of non-attendance at school; and[HL2404]

18 May 2000 : Column WA38

    What is the average fine for parents found guilty in connection with the offence of non-attendance at school; and[HL2405]

    How many parents have received the maximum fine of £2,500 in connection with the offence of non-attendance at school.[HL2406]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): We estimate that local education authorities undertake around 9,000 prosecutions a year of parents whose children are not attending school regularly. But in 80 per cent of cases, parents do not turn up in court and are fined in their absence. To challenge this culture amongst some parents that education is not important, we are proposing the rise in the level of the offence for non-attendance at school. More detailed information on the numbers found guilty and average fines is, however, not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Fresh Start Schools

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which schools have been selected for the Fresh Start programme; which schools continue to be part of the programme; which schools have failed or been recommended for closure; and what are the costs for each school associated with the programme.[HL2407]

Baroness Blackstone: Fresh Start is not a programme but an option for local education authorities to tackle failure. A Fresh Start requires the closure of a "failing" school and the opening of a new school on the same site. It offers a radical approach to securing school improvement for failing schools showing insufficient evidence of recovery.

Fresh Start policy is at its infancy--only 15 schools have undergone a Fresh Start to date, 11 secondary and four primary. Three opened in September 1998, eight in September 1999, two in January 2000, one in April 2000 and one in May 2000.

New School NameFormer School NamePhaseLEA Area
September 1998
Firfield Community SchoolBlakelaw SchoolSecondaryNewcastle
Fir Vale SchoolEarl Marshall SchoolSecondarySheffield
Regis County SecondaryThe King's CE SchoolSecondaryWolverhampton
September 1999
East Brighton College of Media ArtsThe Marina High SchoolSecondaryBrighton
Islington Arts and MediaGeorge Orwell SchoolSecondaryIslington
Kingswood High SchoolPerronet Thompson SchoolSecondaryKingston upon Hull
Telegraph HillHatcham Wood SchoolSecondaryLewisham
Bishopsford Community SchoolWatermeads High SchoolSecondaryMerton
River Leen SchoolAlderman Derbyshire SchoolSecondaryNottingham City
New Parks Community CollegeNew CollegeSecondaryLeicester City
Langham SchoolPark View AcademySecondaryHaringey
January 2000
Manor Oak PrimaryKevington Primary SchoolPrimaryBromley
The Richard Heathcote Community PrimaryHeathcote County PrimaryPrimaryStaffordshire
April/May 2000
New Christ Church CE VC PrimaryChrist Church CE VC PrimaryPrimaryReading
Goose Green PrimaryGrove Vale PrimaryPrimarySouthwark

At the end of the spring term 2000, 446 schools were deemed to be "failing" and in need of special measures. A Fresh Start is planned for eight of these schools by the local education authorities concerned in September 2000. The schools are in Sheffield, Bristol, Hackney, Bournemouth, Essex, Stockport and Northamptonshire.

So far, local education authorites have met the costs associated with the Fresh Start process using a variety of existing funding sources, including the Standards Fund and New Deal for Schools. The costs of Fresh Start will vary and details are not readily available.

In line with the Government's ambitious new targets that all schools should achieve 20 per cent five GCSEs at Grades A*-C by 2004 and 25 per cent by 2006, all schools gaining less than 15 per cent 5A*-C at GCSE over three years must consider a Fresh Start. The Government is intending to make £60 million of capital funding available for Fresh Start schools and City Academies this year and an additional £13 million will be made available to cover the transition costs of setting up the new schools and embedding best practice.

Fresh Start has been an option for some of the hardest cases. The schools are new and fragile, and there are no quick fixes. But there are early signs of improvement in the first schools. Exam results are up and truancy down--to a marked degree.

18 May 2000 : Column WA40

5+ A*-C GCSEs
Unauthorised Absence
Firfield Community School437412.63.3
The King's School819113.28.5

Fresh Start is one of a number of options aimed at turning round failing schools more quickly. The average turn-around time for special measures schools now stands at 18 months for schools coming on to special measures since May 1997. This is down from

25 months for schools coming under special measures between 1993 and April 1997.

18 May 2000 : Column WA39

New School NameFormer School Name Phase School Address LEA Area Head's Name School Tel. Date ClosedDate of Fresh Start
Firfield Community SchoolBlakelaw SchoolSecFirfield Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE5 3HUNewcastleRuss Wallace0191 286 321131 Aug 9801 Sep 98
Fir Vale SchoolEarl Marshal SchoolSecEarl Marshal Road, Sheffield S4 8LASheffieldHugh Howe0114 243 939131 Aug 9801 Sep 98
East Brighton College of Media ArtsThe Marina High SchoolSecWilson Avenue, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 5PBBrightonClive Frost01273 692 47131 Aug 9901 Sep 99
Islington Arts and MediaGeorge Orwell SchoolSecTurfe Road, London N4 3LSIslingtonDr John Hudson020 7281 551131 Aug 9901 Sep 99
Kingswood High SchoolPerronet Thompson SchoolSecWawne Road, Bransholme, Hull HU7 4WRKingston upon HullKevin Beaton01482 879 96731 Aug 9901 Sep 99
Telegraph HillHatcham Wood SchoolSecWallbutton Road, London SE24 2NYLewishamMichael Davis0171 732 212231 Aug 9901 Sep 99
Bishopsford Community SchoolWatermeads High SchoolSecLilleshall Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 6DUMertonPaul Harwood0181 687 115731 Aug 9901 Sep 99
River Leen SchoolAlderman Derbyshire SchoolSecHucknall Lane, Bulwell, Nottingham NG6 8AQNottingham CityTom Megahy0115 927 842531 Aug 9901 Sep 99
Regis County SecretaryThe King's CE SchoolSecRegis Road, Tattenhall, Wolverhampton WV6 8XGWolverhamptonTim Gallager01902 55833331 Aug 9901 Sep 99
New Parks Community CollegeNew CollegeSecGreencoat Road, Leicester LE3 6PNLeicester CityJudith Mullen0116 2873l77431 Aug 9801 Sep 98
Langham SchoolPark View AcademySecLangham Road, Tottenham, London N15 3RBHaringeyPeter Walker020 8888 172231 Aug 9901 Sep 99
The Richard Heathcote Community PrimaryHeathcote County PrimaryPrimAlsagers Bank, Stoke-on-TrentStaffordshireSylvia Rizak01782 720 40631 Dec 9901 Jan 00
Manor Oak PrimaryKevington Primary SchoolPrimSweeps Lane, off Blacksmith Lane, St. Mary Cray, Orpington, Kent BR5 3PEBromleyMrs Yvonne Marsh01689 828 09931 Dec 9907 Jan 00
Grove Vale PrimaryGoose Green PrimaryPrimGrove Vale, East Dulwich, London SE22 8DTSouthwarkMrs Pat Ford0181 693 356801 Apr 0001 Apr 00
Christ Church CE VC PrimaryNew Christ Church CE VC PrimaryPrimMilman Road, Reading RG2 0AYReadingMrs B Revie01734 871 01901 May 0001 May 00

18 May 2000 : Column WA41

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