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Specialist Schools

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Since the specialist schools programme began some 33 schools have lost their specialist status.

Applicant schools seeking redesignation in their specialism are assessed against published criteria. Those applicants which do not meet the criteria in respect of the progress expected of specialist schools against the designation criteria and/or prepare new plans that do not meet the required standard are unsuccessful in their applications and are not redesignated.

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Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they plan to improve teaching standards in specialist schools, which are reported to be similar to the national profile, despite the extra funding such schools receive.[HL1106]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Ofsted's 2001 report on specialist schools said that the overall profile of teaching was broadly in line with the national picture. This was based on visits to 46 specialist schools. However, the latest Ofsted evidence submitted to the Education and Skills Select Committee looked at the evidence of all secondary schools inspected during school year 2001–02. For the 74 specialist schools inspected, the proportion of teaching judged to be very good or better was 26 per cent compared with 8 per cent for non-specialist schools. The proportion of teaching judged to be good or better was 81 per cent in specialist schools compared with 74 per cent of non-specialist schools.

The latest Ofsted figures suggest that significant progress is being made in specialist schools. This gives confidence that the key disciplines of the specialist schools programme (audit, objectives, target-setting and monitoring) will continue to help drive up standards, and the department will continue to monitor their progress.

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all sports specialist schools are required to own adequate playing fields and equipment.[HL1107]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Specialist sports colleges are not required to own their own playing fields and equipment. However, they must have access to such facilities and equipment. In order to be designated as a specialist sports college, a school will need, through its application, to convince our independent assessors that it has use of the sports facilities necessary, including recreational areas, to support and deliver its sports college school and community development plans.

Teachers: Guaranteed PPA Time

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost of giving all teachers one day per fortnight release from teaching.[HL1112]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The Government have proposed that teachers should have guaranteed time for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) equivalent to at least 10 per cent of their timetabled teaching time. Schools will manage this contractual change, which takes effect from September 2005, in a variety of ways. These are likely to include the transfer of managerial and administrative and non-teaching contact tasks to support staff, releasing teachers for PPA; protecting existing non-contact time from cover through the use of ICT learn centres and cover supervisors; and adjusting timetables and redeploying existing staff. Guidance will be made available to

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schools on ways of releasing time for guaranteed PPA. The cost of creating guaranteed PPA time will depend on how each school provides it. But it will be well within the estimated total cost of workforce reform in 2005–06 of £1 billion.

Sheep Movement Regulations

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all local authorities have been able to comply with the regulations regarding the time by which the submission of data on sheep movements is required by the central animal movement licensing system database; and if not, what percentage of the times of submission are found to be in arrears.[HL1028]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): Keepers of sheep are required to report movements of sheep to the local authority within three days of the movement taking place. Local authorities make every effort to ensure that livestock movements are entered onto the animal movement licensing system (AMLS) with the minimum delay. The table below gives a breakdown of the time taken to enter sheep movements in England and Wales onto AMLS. Moves reported between 6 September and 3–30 November

withinnumberpercentage of total
3 days47,84128.7
4–5 days29,47817.7
6–10 days44,20226.5
11–15 days19,41911.7
16+ days25,76515.5

Moves reported between 1 December and 8 January

withinnumberpercentage of total
3 days12,24641.9
4–5 days4,81416.5
6–10 days7,38125.3
11–15 days3,24311.1
16+ days1,5465.3

It should be noted that the database does not record the date that the notification was received by the local authority. It is not therefore possible at present to identify what proportion of the late entries can be attributed to late submission of the movement document by the recipient of the livestock. This is being addressed.

Upland and Lowland Britain

Lord Henley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has a definition of upland or lowland Britain.[HL1158]

27 Jan 2003 : Column WA137

Lord Whitty: There is no statutory definition of upland or lowland Britain. However, there are statutory maps of less favoured areas for the United Kingdom prepared under Council Directive 75/268/EEC. These maps, which are predominantly upland, also include other farming areas which suffer disadvantage and are used for the purpose of targeting certain CAP support payments.

Americans visiting the UK

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many American visitors arrived in the United Kingdom during the six months ending 31 December 2002; and how many arrived during the six months ending 31 December 2001.[HL1098]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): The number of visits to the United Kingdom by residents of North America during the six months ending 31 December 2001 and the six months ending 31 December 2002 is shown in the following table.

Visits to the UK by residents of North America (Canada and USA1)


Source: International Passenger Survey, Office for National Statistics.

(1) USA-only figures will be released for third quarter of 2002

on 5 February 2003, for fourth quarter of 2002 on 8 April 2003.

(2) Figures are provisional.

(3) The number of visits in December will be released on

5 February 2003.

Regional Tourist Boards and Regional Development Agencies

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What roles (a) regional tourist boards and (b) regional development agencies play in tourism in their areas.[HL1099]

Baroness Blackstone: From 1 April 2003, the regional development agencies (RDAs) will play a stronger role in the strategic leadership of tourism and will receive at least £3.6 million from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for each of the next three years. They will consider tourism in the context of their corporate plans, regional economic strategies and the targets by which they are monitored. We see the regional tourist boards (RTBs) as their natural delivery partners. RDAs will distribute DCMS tourism funds to the RTBs for activities in line with regional sustainable tourism strategies and the national policy framework. For a transitional period

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of three years, they will thus fund tourism strategy delivery with at least the sums currently received via the English Tourism Council. In line with regional priorities, some RDAs have already confirmed additional funding for tourism.

Northern Ireland Civil Service: Security Clearance

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 12 December (WA 48) about security vetting, how many posts in the Northern Ireland Civil Service are classified as sensitive posts or higher; how many of those post holders possess valid security clearance; whether any civil servants whose security clearances have expired were still in post on 12 December 2002; and, if so, why.[HL751]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced on 12 December 2002 a review of arrangements for security vetting in Northern Ireland. This will include consideration of the need to designate particular posts as sensitive and the criteria that should be applied. At present all administrative posts in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) are subject to a counter-terrorist check which is carried out on recruitment to the NICS. Under current national security vetting policy only individuals whose duties require long-term, frequent and uncontrolled access to Secret or Top Secret information or assets are regarded as requiring a security check or developed vetting. Very few posts within the NICS would involve such access. The extent and the appropriate levels and frequency of security vetting both at entry and beyond in the NICS will be examined afresh as part of the current review.

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