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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the impact of recent changes in funding formula for Gypsy and Traveller education on (a) pupil participation and (b) recruitment of teaching assistants from traveller communities.
From April 2006, the Vulnerable Children Grant and three other grants were put together to form a Children's Services Grant (CSG). The CSG also contains additional funding to help local authorities and schools to administer the Every Child Matters agenda.
Local authorities have more spending freedom over a larger pot of money to target where it is most needed, including towards support for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils. The Department has made clear in its Guidance on Children and Young People's Plan the need for local authorities to set out improvements to the outcomes for all children and young people with specific focus on narrowing the gap between those who do well and those who do not.
Over the last three years there has been an increase in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils participating in education at school. While we do not collect data, anecdotal evidence is that there is also an increase in recruitment of people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities working within Traveller Education Services.
The Department will be assessing the provision made by local authorities to improve the life chances of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children through its research project which will be launched in June 2007 and the inspection framework.