§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the cost of the fast-track scheme. 
§ Mr. Timms
In the financial year ending 31 March 2001 we invested £4.6 million to establish the fast-track teaching programme, which will attract high calibre graduates, career changers and serving teachers and support their development into leaders of the teaching profession.
The fast-track scheme is not designed to increase the number of classroom assistants. With local education authorities we are investing £350 million in the three years from 1999–2000 to 2001–02 to increase the number of teaching assistants; and we have recently announced a further £198 million for the financial year 2002–03. There are now 25,000 more teaching assistants in post than in January 1999.