Previous Section Index Home Page

20 Jan 2003 : Column 159W—continued

School Fires

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had over the past year on measures to reduce arson attacks on schools; and if he will make a statement. [91310]

Mr. Miliband: Officials from this Department sit on the Arson in Schools Working Group. This comprises experts representing the insurance industry, the fire and police services, local authorities and Government Departments. The group meets regularly to review new

20 Jan 2003 : Column 160W

data on school fires and advises on ways of reducing the risks of arson in schools through seminars and publications. One of its outputs has been the publication of the guide "How to Combat Arson in Schools", copies of which have been sent to all maintained schools in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had on measures to mitigate the effects of fires in schools; and if he will make a statement. [91311]

Mr. Miliband: If a fire should happen in a school, the Department's primary concern is for the safety of pupils, teachers and other users. Regulation 17 of the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 requires that every part of a school building, and of the land provided for a school, shall be such that the safe escape of the occupants in case of fire is reasonably assured. Schools are also covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and by subsequent related regulations. These include aspects of fire safety.

To help schools manage fire safety, the Department published Managing School Facilities Guide 6, "Fire Safety", in 2000. This offers guidance on how to minimise the risk of fire, including identifying hazards and carrying out risk assessments. It also gives advice on training and on fire detection and alarm systems.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has for (a) issuing guidance and (b) making it a statutory obligation that newly built schools should have fire sprinklers installed. [91313]

Mr. Miliband: Since April 2001, all new construction work at schools has been subject to approval under the Building Regulations. Projects will not be approved unless they are designed in accordance with the 2000 edition of Approved Document B (Fire Safety), which accompanies the regulations. The Building Regulations do not require the installation of fire sprinkler systems in new school accommodation and the Department does not intend to seek such a change.

The Department's guide "Fire Safety" includes information on fire sprinklers. It states that, though expensive to install, their use may be worthwhile in schools where the risk of arson is high. In these circumstances sprinkler systems can help minimise the loss of valuable course work and teaching materials through fire, and prevent major disruption to the life of a school.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what was the estimated cost of arson attacks in schools in each of the past five years. [91314]

Mr. Miliband: The Department does not collect these figures.

School Laboratories

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what information the appraisal of asset management plans generated on the condition of accommodation and equipment in secondary school science laboratories. [90955]

20 Jan 2003 : Column 161W

Mr. Miliband: The condition data that have been collected from local education authorities in connection with their asset management plans do not separately identify the condition of science laboratories or the equipment they contain. To have asked for spaces to be separately identified would have placed an undue burden on authorities.

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to ask OFSTED to monitor spending on schools' laboratories and equipment supplies in more detail than at present. [90956]

Mr. Miliband: OFSTED as part of its general remit assesses the suitability of school buildings for delivery of the National Curriculum, including the sciences. There are at present no plans to ask OFSTED separately to monitor the spending on schools' laboratories and equipment supplies. Generally, we do not monitor details of capital investment at LEA level because of the bureaucratic burden that this would impose. An evaluation report of £60 million capital funding that was allocated to LEAs for the School Laboratories for 21st Century scheme in 2000–01 and 2001–02, covering a sample of 149 participating LEAs will be prepared over the next 12 months.

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what provisions will be made for schools with unsatisfactory or worse science accommodation that did not benefit from the funding made available through the School Laboratories for the 21st Century scheme. [90957]

Mr. Miliband: The central Government funding available for investment in school buildings will rise from £3 billion this year, to £3.8 billion for 2003–04, and will rise further to over £5 billion by 2005–06. The bulk of this funding is allocated by formula to schools and to local education authorities (LEAs) to support investment in their priority needs. LEAs have Asset Management Plans (AMPs) to prioritise these needs locally in a rigorous, open and consultative process, based on a full survey of the building needs of all their schools, including for science teaching and learning, and reflecting government priorities such as our aim to improve the provision of laboratories. Schools now receive substantial direct capital funding, to give them a direct stake in investment in their buildings, including in laboratories. A secondary school of 1,000 pupils will in 2003–04 receive about £75,000 of direct capital, and this funding can be rolled over for up to three years to allow major projects to be addressed.

Sickness Absence

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many working days were lost due to illness in his Department in (a) 2002 and (b) each of the preceding five years. [90746]

20 Jan 2003 : Column 162W

Mr. Stephen Twigg: The overall sickness absence rate in the Department for Education and Skills for 2001 was 8.4 days per staff year.

The overall sickness absence rate in the former Department for Education and Employment for each of the years from 2000 to 1997 was:

The figures are taken from the report 'Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service', published annually by the Cabinet Office. The figures for 2002 will be announced in due course.

My Department is committed to managing sickness absence effectively and to maintaining its efforts to try and meet the 2003 target for reduced sickness absence as set out in its Service Delivery Agreement.

Study Support

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the Answers to the hon. Members for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) and for Amber Valley (Judy Mallaber) of 18 December 2002, Official Report, column 832W, when he expects to announce detailed plans for the funding of study support activities. [90783]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We announced at the end of December our plans for increased total spending on the main study support programmes over the next three years: £85m in 2003–04; £115m in 2004–05; and £159m in 2005–06. The bulk of this money will go to schools and local education authorities, with additional funds targeted on Excellence in Cities areas, and in support of our national Key Stage 3 strategy to raise standards in the early secondary years. We will also provide extra funding to expand the Playing for Success scheme with more study support centres; and funding for national organisations which provide advice, training and project support to those delivering study support activities. We will announce further details in due course.


Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total cost was to (a) local government, (b) central Government and (c) both local and central Government of employing (i) teachers, (ii) deputy head teachers, (iii) head teachers and (iv) all teachers in each year since 1997. [91521]

Mr. Miliband: Expenditure by local education authorities in England on teaching staff in each year since 1997 was as follows.

20 Jan 2003 : Column 163W

Expenditure on teaching staff—England, 1997–98 to 2000–01

Expenditure (£ million in cash terms)

Employment costs for teachers at maintained schools are not met directly by central Government but by the LEAs and schools which employ them. No figures are held centrally on the breakdown of these costs between heads, deputies and other teachers.

Next Section Index Home Page