To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the potential liability incurred by schools or local education authorities in the event of pupils coming to harm while absent from school without authorisation, but in a situation where their absence has been encouraged or condoned by a teacher. 
None. Such assessments would be for schools and local education authorities to consider.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the number of half days missed through (i) unauthorised and (ii) authorised absence in (A) primary and (B) secondary schools; and if he will make a statement. 
The Department commissions the national pupil absence survey each year which collects the total number of authorised and unauthorised half days missed from all primary, secondary and special schools in England. Departmental evaluation of this data informs our strategies to improve attendance and tackle truancy in all schools.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many children have played truant in each month of this academic year, broken down by local authority; (2) what figures he has collated on the number of children who have played truant in each academic year since 1997, broken down by
(a) gender, (b) LEA and (c) ethnic group. 
The data for the national pupil absence survey is collected at school level once a year after the spring term. No data for 2002/03 will be available until the autumn and this will only show the overall number of children that actually missed at least one half day due to unauthorised absence for the academic year from September 2002 to May 2003. The data cannot be broken down by month.The national pupil absence survey only collects one set of figures for each school and information on the characteristics of individual pupils cannot be deduced from this to provide breakdowns by
(a) gender or (c) ethnic group. The information collected at school level for the academic year September to May, is as follows:
Total number of sessions
Number of sessions missed due to authorised absence
Number of pupils absent for at least one session due to authorised absence
Number of sessions missed due to unauthorised absence
Number of pupils absent for at least one session due to unauthorised absence
Each session represents one half day.
This information is then collated at LEA level for both maintained primary and maintained secondary schools and at national (England) level for all schools. The LEA breakdown showing the number of pupils absent for at least one session due to unauthorised absence is shown in a table which has been placed in the Library.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many officials in his Department are employed on projects and initiatives to reduce truancy. 
The Department for Education and Skills has ten officials working exclusively on the coordination and implementation of projects and initiatives to reduce truancy and improve attendance. The work of many other officials within the Department — and in other Departments—also contributes to these aims.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much has been spent on projects and initiatives to reduce truancy in schools since 1997. 
A wide range of national and local projects and initiatives to reduce truancy has been introduced since 1997, involving schools, local authorities and many other stakeholders. It is therefore not possible to calculate overall expenditure on measures of this sort.