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Somali Schoolchildren

Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what his assessment is of the needs of Somali children in schools in each London borough; how many receive free school meals; and what proportion continue education beyond the age of 16. [117693]

As part of the Pupil Level Annual Schools Census (PLASC), schools are required to record ethnicity data to reflect the main categories used in the 2001 National Population Census. Children of Somali ethnic origin are recorded under the category of "Black African". In 2002, the Department carried out a consultation exercise with Local Education Authorities (LEAs) on a "key list" of extended ethnicity categories that included a separate "Somali" category. In 2003, for local reporting and monitoring purposes, LEAs were given the option of using the extended categories in their schools if they felt that the main categories did not meet their local management needs. However, not all LEAs chose to use extended categories and LEAs are required only to report to the DfES using the national categories. The Department does not therefore hold complete data for the extended ethnic background categories.