HC Deb 28 May 2004 vol 422 cc108-9W
Mr. Willis

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many tasks introduced by the Government since 1997 have been removed as a result of the reduction in bureaucracy initiatives over the past 12 months. [175917]

Mr. Charles Clarke

[holding answer 25 May 2004]: The "Making a Difference—Red Tape and Bureaucracy in Schools Second Report" published in March 2003 identified 125 separate actions to reduce or remove elements of bureaucracy identified through visits to schools and discussions with head teachers. By May this year, 79 of these actions had been completed.

Beyond these specific actions, the independent Implementation Review Unit (IRU) panel of serving heads, teachers and a bursar, has worked with policy officials throughout the development of the 'New Relationship with Schools'; a programme which I announced in January to work with schools in a different way, based on a high degree of professional trust. Schools' interactions with government, in terms of planning, data requests, communications and accessing funding and support will become simpler and more streamlined. Work is also in hand for using a single school plan to replace separate bid ding requirements.

In addition, the 'National Agreement on Raising Standards and Tackling Workload' is freeing teachers from unnecessary burdens and ensuring that their time is focused on teaching and learning. Since last September, teachers can no longer routinely be required to carry out administrative and clerical tasks, including 21 specific tasks listed in the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions document. There are more changes to come; from September 2004 there will be a 38 hour annual limit on cover for absent colleagues, and from September 2005 all teachers will be entitled to guaranteed time within the school day for planning, preparation and assessment.

Within the further education and training sector, we are working with the Learning and Skills Council to reduce bureaucracy by simplifying administration for all providers, and we are committed to implementing the 30 recommendations made in the Bureaucracy Task Force's first report. Progress has been made including the reduction of funding streams to the LSC from 45 to 5 in 2003/04. The LSC is implementing plan led funding from 2004/05, and we have established the Bureaucracy Review Group. This is an independent group chaired by Sir Andrew Foster and comprising members from the major provider groups in the sector, to assess new and existing policies and their implementation, challenging the Department, the LSC and other bodies as necessary to remove bureaucratic burdens.

In higher education, the independent Better Regulation Review Group, chaired by David Vandelinde, reports that significant progress has been made in implementing the five recommendations contained in the Better Regulation Task Force's report 'Higher Education: Easing the burden'.