HC Deb 15 October 2002 vol 390 cc777-8W
Mr. Wiggin

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures are in place to improve the secondary education of students and the recruitment of teachers. [73838]

Estelle Morris

Investment for Reform, published in July, sets out our intentions for reforming the secondary education system. A record £12.8 billion increase in education investment over the next 3 years, together with measures in the Education Act 2002 will provide a firm basis for further reform and improvement, and higher standards.

A range of measures has been introduced to boost teacher recruitment. From September 2000, £6,000 training bursaries have been paid to eligible students on postgraduate courses that lead to qualified teacher status. For those who train in and then go on to teach in shortage subject areas a £4,000 "golden hello" payment is made after induction has been completed. These measures helped to ensure that there were 29,045 new entrants to initial teacher training courses in 2001–02, more than any year since 1994 and 1,330 more than 2000–2001.

Mr. Wiggin

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what tests are used to assess whether secondary schools are improving; and if she will make a statement on the methodology of these tests. [73839]

Mr. Miliband

Secondary school performance and improvement are assessed on a number of bases, including the performance of their pupils in public examinations (GCSEs/GNVQs). Increasingly, we are also taking account of pupil performance in the end of Key Stage 3 tests, both in its own right and as an indicator of the "value added" by schools during Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. The 2002 performance tables will include two value added measures for secondary schools nationally, in addition to the raw examination results published normally.

The principal means of assessing achievements at the end of compulsory education is the GCSE. GCSEs are assessed through a combination of coursework and terminal examination. GCSE specifications have to meet the requirements of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's (QCA) subject criteria. A Code of Practice sets out the principles and practice for the assessment and quality assurance of the GCSE qualifications. It helps to ensure grading standards are constant in each subject across different awarding bodies and different specifications year on year.

The National Curriculum Key Stage 3 tests are developed by QCA on behalf of the Secretary of State. These tests provide a measure of pupils' progress in English mathematics and science at the end of Key Stage 3. They help teachers and parents to see what children have achieved compared with other children of the same age and with national standards, based on eight levels of attainment in the National Curriculum.

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