One in 10 desks empty

SURPLUS PLACES

NEARLY one in 10 school places in England is surplus to requirements, schools minister Estelle Morris revealed this week. In an answer to a question by Shaun Woodward, the Labour MP for Witney, she published a table detailing the distribution of the 730,000 surplus places.

The Government is putting pressure on local education authorities to reduce surplus places. It initially wants them to concentrate on schools which are less than three-quarters full. Nearly 2,400 schools (or about 11 per cent) have a quarter of their places unfilled.

Some councils will have their work cut out. A third of primary schools in Halton, Cheshire, have at least a quarter of their places empty. And almost half of Nottingham's secondary schools fall into the same category.

NURSERY EDUCATION

SCHOOLS minister Estelle Morris this week confirmed that teamwork would be assessed under the Government's new performance-related pay proposals.

Responding to Liberal Democrat spokesman, Phil Willis, she said that "Part of the professional characteristics aspect of the proposed prformance threshold standards will be an evaluation of the way teachers build a team commitment with their colleagues."

NURSERY EDUCATION

FREE nursery education for all three-year-olds would cost pound;450 million, early-years minister Margaret Hodge revealed this week.

The Government has already promised pound;390m over three years to ensure two-thirds of three-year-olds have a place by 2002.

In an answer to a question by Matthew Taylor, the Liberal Democrat MP for Truro and St Austell, she said that the money is being targeted at those "in social need".

It is expected that the Government will promise all three-year-olds a place in its next manifesto.

INTERNATIONAL

FIFTY million children in Asia do not attend school, according to a parliamentary answer by International Development Secretary Clare Short.

In response to a question from Nick St Aubyn, Conservative MP for Guildford, she said that the Government would use a United Nations conference in Dakar, Senegal, in April to push for progress towards universal primary education worldwide by 2015.


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