§ Helen Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the pilot Skill Force scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Dr. Moonie
The Skill Force scheme is now in its third year in secondary schools at its two original locations. A further nine locations are in their second year of piloting and this autumn we are putting Skill Force teams into a 19W further 13 locations. This latest expansion is being taken forward jointly between the Ministry of Defence and Department of Education and Skills (DfES) as part of DfES's Behaviour Improvement Programme which, in turn, is part of the Government's Street Crime Initiative.
Independent evaluation of the impact of this exciting scheme is an integral part of the approach we have taken to the piloting of Skill Force. This focuses on testing the scheme's achievement against the key objectives: reducing truancy; reducing exclusions; improving educational and vocational attainment: improving behaviour; and reducing the number of young people who are not in employment, education or training on completion of their mandatory schooling.
The latest evaluation by the British Market Research Bureau reviews the original schemes in Newcastle Upon Tyne and West Norfolk and shows positive results. Attendance rates exceeded 90 per cent. among children who were otherwise expected to display sharply declining attendance through years 10 and 11; for many it would have been expected that declining attendance would have led eventually to exclusion. Exclusion levels have also reduced dramatically; only 13 participants were excluded, compared to 46 who were identified at being at risk of permanent exclusion. One Norfolk Head Teacher said:There are youngsters that would have been excluded by now from school if it hadn't been for Skill Force. Some of them have got very challenging behaviours but there has been a noticeable improvement, there's also been a noticeable improvement in their attendance as well".Skill Force has been credited as the major factor in raising GCSE A*-C grades from 26 per cent. to 36 per cent. in one of the Newcastle Upon Tyne schools.
In addition, over half of the parents interviewed have reported more positive behaviour and attitudes which they attribute directly to Skill Force.
The report also indicated areas where further development of the Schemes could be undertaken and would be beneficial.
A full copy of the British Market Research Bureau research has already been placed in the Library of the House.