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Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department has taken to reduce the number of school (a) exclusions and (b) truants. [130386]

Under our innovative Behaviour and Attendance Strategy, we are providing £470 million between 2002 and 2006 to schools and local education authorities to encourage prevention and early intervention in tackling the root causes of truancy and the poor behaviour that can lead to exclusion.The Government are putting in place unprecedented measures to prevent bad behaviour. For example, we have introduced targeted Behaviour Improvement Programmes in 61 areas. We are providing training and support to all secondary schools and we are piloting similar resources in up to 3,500 primary schools. Through these initiatives, we are promoting successful alternatives to exclusion, although we recognise that head teachers retain the right to exclude pupils in the case where they judge that is necessary.We are determined to tackle the long standing problem of truancy and its negative impact on children's life chances. The Government now co-ordinates truancy sweeps at a national level. We provide expert support and advice to the 56 education welfare services facing the largest challenges. We are bearing down on parentally condoned truancy through national implementation of the Fast Track to Prosecution initiative. Through the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill, we are seeking to introduce parenting contracts and penalty notices for the parents of persistent truants.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many times consent has been given to a relaxation of the minimum area standard for team game playing fields at schools, under section 543 of the Education Act 1996 (as amended by paragraph 159 of Schedule 30 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998), in each of the last five years. [128610]

The Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 set out the minimum size of team game playing fields that should be provided for schools according to the age and number of pupils attending those schools. The Secretary of State's agreement is needed if changes to the team game playing field provision mean that a school falls, or remains, below the minimum required by the Regulations. This means that agreement is also needed if a school already below the required minimum makes any changes to its team game playing fields, even if it results in an increase.We have no central records before 2000. Six applications were agreed in 2000, 25 in 2001, 11 in 2002, and 9 so far in 2003. Of these 41 approved applications, 31 (75 per cent.) resulted in either no change or an increase in the amount of team game playing field provided for schools.Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many

(a) classroom assistants and (b) teachers in schools there were in(i) the Chesham and Amersham constituency and (ii) Buckinghamshire in each year since 1997. [129886]

The number of full time equivalent (FTE) regular teachers and teaching assistants in the maintained sector in Chesham and Amersham constituency and Buckinghamshire LEA since 1997 are shown in the following table.

Teachers and teaching assistants in Chesham & Amersham constituency and Buckinghamshire: 1997 to 2003

Chesham & Amersham constituency

Buckinghamshire LEA

FTE number of teachers


FTE number of teaching assistants

1, 2

FTE number of teachers


FTE number of teaching

1, 2








Source: Annual Schools Census.

2 Includes nursery assistants, special needs support staff, minority ethnic pupil support staff and other teaching assistants.


Source: 618g annual survey of teacher number and vacancies Not available on a consistent basis because of local government reorganisation

5 provisional.


Teacher numbers for 2003 from the Annual School Census are provisional. Annual School Census and 618G have a survey data of the third Thursday in January.


618g annual survey of teacher number and vacancies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the local authorities' schools funding taskforce. [119761]

[holding answer 18 June 2003]: The Department for Education and Skills is working in partnership with LEA and school representatives to identify changes that need to be made to the funding system for 2004–05 so that all schools can expect to receive a reasonable per pupil settlement in that year. We have been discussing how best to ensure sufficient funding increases for every LEA; the right balance between support through general grant and through ring-fenced and targeted grant; how to give confidence that schools and pupils will receive the money intended for them: the right balance between school and LEA central provision; how to ensure that that variations in the budget increases received by different schools within each LEA are appropriate and fair; and how work force reform, in line with the National Agreement, can be sustained. We will aim to ensure that changes are in place in good time to allow LEAs and schools to plan for 2004–05 and so provide increased predictability and stability in school funding.