§ Mr. Challen
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps her Department is taking to encourage staff to work from home; and how many staff do so on a regular basis. 
§ Mr. Ivan Lewis
The Department of Education and Skills believes everyone should be allowed to balance their work and home commitments and that home working should be available to all staff, not just those with caring responsibilities. We encourage a culture of trust where people feel comfortable working from home and do not feel tied to working a fixed 9–5 pattern and try to discourage long hours working among staff. Staff can work at home on a full-time basis or for part of the week on a regular or occasional basis. Business needs remain at the top of our agenda. However, managers are encouraged to be sympathetic to all requests and grant them whenever possible.
The Department publicises its policy on flexible working to all staff and people working wholly or partly from home have access to our remote working system, which currently has 1,175 registered users, 27 per cent. of our total work force.