(2) what assessment he has made of the effect on the conduct of school trips of his Department's rarely cover guidance;
(3) what recent discussions he has had on the application of his Department's rarely cover guidance; with whom such discussions were held; and on what dates these discussions took place;
The Secretary of State and my predecessor, the right hon. Member for South Dorset (Jim Knight) have discussed the issues of rarely cover individually with our social partners on the Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group on a number of occasions over the last few months.
General guidance on the rarely cover provisions was issued at the end of April. A copy of this has been placed in the House Libraries. It makes clear that teachers should, from September 2009, be required to cover for absent colleagues only rarely, in circumstances that are not foreseeable.
Since April, the Department has been working hard with social partners to produce additional guidance on the rarely cover provisions. This will include guidance on learning outside the classroom which is designed to help schools plan effectively for these activities, which we all agree are an important part of the curriculum. The additional guidance, which will be subject to a period of consultation, will be issued shortly and a copy will be placed in the House Libraries.
No estimate has been made of the number of learning outside the classroom activities that have been cancelled because of a lack of cover over the last 12 months and where schools take note of the new guidance, we do not anticipate that the rarely cover provisions will result in reduced opportunities for learning outside the classroom in the future.