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Free School Meals

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether his Department has informed local education authorities of the free school meals available to children from low-income households as a result of the child tax credit. [111447]

Information was issued to all local education authorities on 15 January 2003, which outlined the changes to free school meal eligibility that would apply from April 2003. Further information, which dealt specifically with the new free school meal (tax credit) eligibility category, was issued to all local education authorities on 28 February 2003. From 6 April 2003, children whose parents receive the following 'support' payments are eligible to receive free school meals: income support; income based jobseeker's allowance; support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; and child tax credit, provided that they do not also receive working tax credit and have an annual income (as assessed by the Inland Revenue) that does not exceed £13,230.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to monitor and assess the quality of (a) selection of trainees, (b) in-school training and (c) overall outcome of the Graduate Teachers programme. [111779]

All entrants to initial teacher training in England must satisfy the requirements that my right hon. Friend has laid down in "Qualifying to Teach: Professional Standards for Qualified Teacher Status and Requirements for Initial Teacher Training". The selection of individual candidates is, however, the responsibility of training providers themselves. The Teacher Training Agency's functions include the enhancement of quality of both conventional and employment-based training routes. In this context, measures taken by the Agency to promote high-quality employment-based training include the creation, from September 2002, of 80 Designated Recommending Bodies responsible for the allocation of most places on the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) and the supervision of in-school training. The Agency also oversees the monitoring and peer review of candidates' training plans and an annual survey of employment-based trainees whose main focus is the level of their satisfaction with the training received.Intense competition for places on the GTP has ensured a high standard of entrant to the programme. This is reflected in the fact that, since the programme was created in 1998, over 90 per cent. of GTP trainees have consistently succeeded in gaining Qualified Teacher Status.