HC Deb 22 May 2000 vol 350 c342W
Mr. Boswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will publish(a) guidance to local education authorities on the education of the children of asylum seekers and (b) details of the distribution of moneys to local education authorities earmarked by his Department for this purpose. [122738]

Jacqui Smith

Local education authorities have a legal duty to ensure that education is available for all children of compulsory school age in their area appropriate to age, abilities and aptitudes and any special education needs they may have. This duty applies irrespective of a child's immigration status or rights of residence in a particular area, and so it includes children of asylum seekers. This Department has provided funding to the Refugee Council to support a range of publications on the education of asylum seeker children. We are also in discussion with the Refugee Council and the Local Government Association about whether or not further guidance on the education of asylum seeker children would be helpful to local education authorities.

Local education authorities receive funding for the children of asylum seekers in the same way as for other children on their school roll through the Standard Spending Assessment. The Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Grant, which is worth £162.5 million in 2000–01, provides resources to help with the acquisition of language skills among asylum seeker children. In addition, we recently provided a grant of £175,000 to the Local Government Association which was used to provide additional help to some local education authorities towards the increased education costs of asylum seeker children.

On 7 April, the Secretary of State announced that additional funding of £1.5 million will be available in this financial year to support the educational costs of asylum seekers dispersed to cluster areas under the Immigration and Asylum Act. We are currently considering how best to use this additional resource and plan to make an announcement shortly.

The overall amount spent specifically on the education of asylum seeker children is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.