Written Question
Special Educational Needs: Per Capita Costs
24 Sep 2020, 5:55 p.m.

Questioner: Mr Richard Holden

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what change there has been in the level of per pupil funding for pupils in special schools in County Durham in each of the last three financial years.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

Special schools are funded through a combination of place funding and top-up funding from a local authority’s high needs budget. The high needs budget is allocated to each local authority who determine funding for special schools in their area. Local authorities also use their high needs budgets to pay top-up funding for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in mainstream schools, and to fund alternative provision. Consequently, the department does not hold data on the level of per pupil funding for pupils in special schools in Durham.

The total high needs allocations for Durham for the past 3 years are as follows:

Year

High needs funding amount (total)

2021-22 (provisional allocation)

£69,364,424

2020-21

£61,157,652

2019-20

£52,502,760

2018-19

£50,003,532


Written Question
Assessments
24 Sep 2020, 5:46 p.m.

Questioner: Rachael Maskell

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the oral Answer of 7 September 2020 by the Minister for School Standards, Official Report, column 350, what comparative assessment he has made of the effectiveness of (a) continuous assessment, (b) coursework and (c) exams in assessing student's performance.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

The Department reformed GCSEs and A levels from 2011 to be in line with the highest performing education systems. We consulted widely with schools, colleges, universities and employers, both on the principles for reform and the detail of the content of individual subjects, to help them prepare for their introduction. The move to a linear exams system encourages a deeper understanding of the material and facilitates greater preparation for further study, rather than a focus on preparing for module resits.

The independent qualifications regulator, Ofqual, advised that non-exam assessment (NEA) should only be used when it is the only valid way to assess essential elements of the subject. For example, NEA is still required in modern foreign languages (the speaking assessment) and in art and design.

Research suggests that there is evidence that students’ characteristics can influence teacher judgements. We therefore continue to believe that exams are the best and fairest way of judging students’ performance. Following the difficulties experienced with awarding grades without exams this summer, we are determined that exams should go ahead next year.

The Department will continue to work with school and college stakeholders, Ofqual and the exam boards, to ensure that exams in 2021 are fair and proceed smoothly.


Written Question
Assessments
24 Sep 2020, 5:46 p.m.

Questioner: Rachael Maskell

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in reference to a letter of 18 June 2020 from the Secretary of State to the Chief Regulator of Ofqual, what the evidential basis is for the statement that exams are the best fairest form of assessment.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

The Department reformed GCSEs and A levels from 2011 to be in line with the highest performing education systems. We consulted widely with schools, colleges, universities and employers, both on the principles for reform and the detail of the content of individual subjects, to help them prepare for their introduction. The move to a linear exams system encourages a deeper understanding of the material and facilitates greater preparation for further study, rather than a focus on preparing for module resits.

The independent qualifications regulator, Ofqual, advised that non-exam assessment (NEA) should only be used when it is the only valid way to assess essential elements of the subject. For example, NEA is still required in modern foreign languages (the speaking assessment) and in art and design.

Research suggests that there is evidence that students’ characteristics can influence teacher judgements. We therefore continue to believe that exams are the best and fairest way of judging students’ performance. Following the difficulties experienced with awarding grades without exams this summer, we are determined that exams should go ahead next year.

The Department will continue to work with school and college stakeholders, Ofqual and the exam boards, to ensure that exams in 2021 are fair and proceed smoothly.


Written Question
Special Educational Needs: Finance
24 Sep 2020, 5:42 p.m.

Questioner: Daisy Cooper

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to publish the conclusions of the review on support for children with special educational needs and disabilities that was launched on 6 September 2019.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 September 2020 to Question 87715.


Written Question
Children's Centres: Coronavirus
24 Sep 2020, 5:34 p.m.

Questioner: Tulip Siddiq

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of (a) children’s centres and (b) Sure Start centres are open during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

The decision whether to keep Sure Start children’s centres open in response to COVID-19 is one for local authorities. Data on the number of children’s centres open during the COVID-19 outbreak is held at a local level.

Data on Sure Start children’s centres sites is supplied by local authorities via the department’s Get Information about Schools (GIAS) database portal at: https://www.get-information-schools.service.gov.uk.

Local authorities are required to update their children’s centre records on a regular basis to reflect any permanent changes that they make to their children’s centre provision. However, the GIAS does not provide facility for local authorities to report temporary closures.


Written Question
Special Educational Needs: Reviews
24 Sep 2020, 5:30 p.m.

Questioner: Tulip Siddiq

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress has been made on the SEND review since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 September 2020 to Question 87715.


Written Question
Special Educational Needs: Finance
24 Sep 2020, 5:23 p.m.

Questioner: Daisy Cooper

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allocating additional money to local authorities in the Comprehensive Spending Review to help ensure the needs of children with education, health and care plans are met.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

The government is currently providing the biggest increase to schools funding in a decade, with total additional investment of £14 billion across the next 3 years. This includes significant investment in high needs. There has already been a £2.6 billion increase in 2020-21, including £780 million for high needs, and in 2021-22 there will be a further year-on-year increase of £2.2 billion overall, including an additional £730 million for high needs. High needs funding will therefore have increased by £1.5 billion in 2 years. The additional investment in high needs will go directly to local authorities to support children and young people with the most complex special educational needs and disabilities, including those with education, health and care plans.

Conversations about the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review are currently ongoing, and the department will set out the importance of providing sufficient funding to ensure high quality high needs provision for all children who needs it, as part of these. The results from these discussions will be announced in due course.


Written Question
Special Educational Needs: Pupil Exclusions
24 Sep 2020, 5:16 p.m.

Questioner: Tulip Siddiq

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children with SEND were excluded from school in each week since schools returned for the autumn term.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

Schools and colleges should work with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families and carers so that they receive the education, therapeutic support or specialist support and reasonable adjustments that they need.

The department does not currently hold information related to school exclusions for SEND pupils for this period. This data is collected on a termly basis as part of the school census and released in the annual ‘Permanent and fixed period exclusions in England’ statistical releases.

As set out in the letter of 2 September to children and young people with SEND, their families and carers and those who work to support them, we know that it is critical that all pupils and students can once again benefit from a full-time on-site education 5 days a week.

The department is introducing intelligence gathering and monitoring processes to identify in real time any changes in the use of exclusions and other disciplinary measures. This includes discussions with stakeholders including Regional School Commissioners, Ofsted and local authorities.


Written Question
Free School Meals
24 Sep 2020, 5:09 p.m.

Questioner: Tulip Siddiq

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of children who have become eligible for free school meals since March 2020.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

The number of children eligible for free school meals at each school is provided to the department in the school census. The last census was held in Spring 2020 and the next census will be held in October 2020. The data requested is, therefore, not yet available.


Written Question
Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes
24 Sep 2020, 5:02 p.m.

Questioner: Daisy Cooper

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2020 to Question 86171, when the Government plans to publish the outcome of its assessment of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

Last year, we commissioned Ecorys to carry out an independent evaluation of our 2019 Holiday Activities and Food Programme.

The completion and publication of the final report has been delayed, due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to work with Ecorys on this and their report will be published at the earliest opportunity.


Written Question
Department for Education: Apprentices
24 Sep 2020, 4:36 p.m.

Questioner: Robert Halfon

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

Answer (Gillian Keegan)

The department is maintaining a strong performance on its internal apprenticeship programme, having met the 2.3 per cent public sector target for the past 3 years. We are confident that we will meet this target again in 2020/21 by the end of the financial year.

We have made plans for the department to support the government’s Plan for Jobs through 4 external apprentice recruitment campaigns that will close on 30 September. We are piloting a new approach to external recruitment for junior roles from 1 September to 31 December – all of these vacancies will be advertised as apprenticeships.


Written Question
Children and young people: Mental Health Services
24 Sep 2020, 4:33 p.m.

Questioner: Tulip Siddiq

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he makes of the change in demand for (a) children’s social care and (b) children and adolescent mental health services since schools returned for the autumn term.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

The department has been working closely with local authorities to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, setting up dedicated regional teams that are in frequent contact. Bringing together expertise from across the department, these teams monitor the challenges local authorities are facing, including any increases in demand and can provide support and guidance where appropriate.

We are also monitoring referrals to children’s services via our regional teams and via the Vulnerable Children and Young People survey, which collects data fortnightly from local authorities in England. The latest release is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vulnerable-children-and-young-people-survey.

The next wave of data will be published on 14 October 2020 and will include data from the period since schools returned for the autumn term.

The government has provided £3.7 billion of additional funding to support local authorities in meeting COVID-19 related pressures, including in children’s services.

We will continue to work closely with local authorities as the COVID-19 outbreak progresses and for the upcoming Spending Review on long-term funding decisions.


Written Question
Holiday Play Schemes: Free School Meals
24 Sep 2020, 4:24 p.m.

Questioner: Christian Wakeford

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the pilot Summer 2020 Holiday Activities and Food programme; and whether he plans to roll that programme out across the UK.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

This summer, our £9 million Holiday Activities and Food Programme worked across 17 local authority areas, providing thousands of children with access to healthy meals and enriching activities and building on the success of the 2018 and 2019 programmes. Future policy and spending decisions will be set following completion of the current Spending Review.

Our evaluation of the 2018 and 2019 programme will be published in due course.


Written Question
Department for Education: Equality
24 Sep 2020, 4:18 p.m.

Questioner: Neil O'Brien

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many people his Department and its agencies employ in teams working on issues relating to diversity, equality or inclusion.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

The Department currently has eight employees in central teams who work directly on issues relating to diversity, equality and inclusion. We do not, however, hold data on further teams across the Department who might work on these issues as part of their wider role.


Written Question
GCE A-level: Assessments
24 Sep 2020, 4:15 p.m.

Questioner: Rachael Maskell

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he requested data on the effect of the algorithm generated 2020 A-level results on the attainment gap between the date his Department received those results results and the publication of those results.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

The Department was made aware of provisional data showing the impact of the proposed awarding process on attainment gaps between different groups of students shortly before Ofqual published those data in July 2020. The provisional data showed that there would generally be no widening of the gaps in attainment between different groups of students as a result of the proposed awarding process. The Department was provided with finalised data shortly before A and AS level results day as part of the standard pre-release of results, and this confirmed that this position had not changed.


Written Question
Foster Care: Coronavirus
24 Sep 2020, 4:07 p.m.

Questioner: Daisy Cooper

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the Fostering Network's proposal for an additional payment of £50 a week to foster carers to offset the extra expenses of food, education equipment and utility bills during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought unprecedented challenges to some foster families. That is why we launched a new FosterlinePlus service in June, which provides free access to a range of specialist one-to-one support and advice services for foster families experiencing difficulties.

The government issued over £3.7 billion of additional funding to support local authorities in meeting COVID-19 related pressures, including within children’s social care. Fostering services have been working proactively to ensure that foster families remain together, and to maximise existing capacity, by providing additional resources and funding to families locally, where necessary. The department delegates the responsibility of allocating allowance according to local fostering services.

I remain committed to taking the necessary action to ensure that foster parents receive the respect and support that they need and deserve. I want to drive forward change to empower foster carers and to ensure that they can continue with their invaluable role in protecting our most vulnerable children.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance for fostering services can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care.


Written Question
Special Educational Needs: Autism
24 Sep 2020, 4:07 p.m.

Questioner: Sir Alan Campbell

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has provided to schools on supporting autistic children to return to school during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

The government recognises the significant challenges the COVID-19 outbreak has presented for autistic children, young people and their families. As I set out in my letter of 2 September to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their families and carers and those who work to support them, we know that it is critical that all pupils and students can once again benefit from a full-time on-site education 5 days a week. Schools and colleges should ensure that they receive the education, therapeutic or specialist support and reasonable adjustments required for a successful return to school or college. To support this, we have published guidance for the full opening of schools, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

We have also published guidance for the full opening of special schools and other specialist settings, which provides a framework, approved by Public Health England, that sets out the high-level actions that should be taken. and is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.

The guidance makes it clear that coproduction and collaboration with families is crucial.

The department funds the Autism Education Trust (AET) to deliver training to education professionals and embed good autism practice in schools and colleges across England. AET has developed a hub of guidance and resources for families, teachers and other professionals aimed at supporting children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak and in this period of adjustment as they return to school. The guidance is available at: https://www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk/?s=covid.

This includes guidance for schools on making appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical strategies for managing increased anxiety, changes in routine and environment and transitions to new settings.

The department has also launched a new programme run by mental health experts, backed by £8 million, to provide schools and colleges across England with the knowledge and access to the resources they need to support children and young people, teachers and parents, if they have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes a focus on the specific mental health and wellbeing needs of children with autism and SEND.


Written Question
Teachers: Coronavirus
24 Sep 2020, 8:08 a.m.

Questioner: Andrew Gwynne

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to update guidance for schools to ensure that health risks for teachers who shielded during the covid-19 lockdown are minimised.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

On 2 July the Department published guidance to help schools prepare for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full time from the beginning of the autumn term. This guidance is kept under review and updated as necessary. The guidance can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The guidance includes information on school workforces and the public health advice schools must follow to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission. The public health advice in the guidance makes up a Public Health England endorsed ‘system of controls’, building on the hierarchy of protective measures that have been in use throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. When implemented in line with a revised risk assessment, these measures create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.

Shielding measures were paused from 1 August. Clinically vulnerable and extremely clinically vulnerable staff are able to return to school. While in school they should follow the advice in the Department’s guidance to minimise the risks of transmission. This includes taking particular care to observe good hand and respiratory hygiene, minimising contact and maintaining social distancing where possible.

The Department recommends that school leaders discuss any concerns individuals may have around their particular circumstances and reassure staff about the protective measures in place.


Written Question
Members: Correspondence
23 Sep 2020, 5:42 p.m.

Questioner: John Spellar

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to respond to the correspondence of 16 June 2020 from the hon. Member for Warley on his constituent Angela Turner.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

I can confirm that a response has been sent to the letter dated 16 June, from the right hon. Member for Warley.


Written Question
Educational Institutions: Sanitary Protection
23 Sep 2020, 5:28 p.m.

Questioner: Ruth Cadbury

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding will be made available for the free period products scheme in 2021.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

On 20 January 2020, the department launched a new scheme which makes free period products available for state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England. The scheme remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and these organisations are still able to order a range of period products and distribute them to learners.

This scheme is in place to ensure that no learner misses out on education due to their period, and we continue to work with our delivery partner, phs, to encourage engagement with the scheme. Schools and colleges should have period products available should learners need them, and they may choose to order products through this scheme or through an alternative route.

Each eligible organisation has been allocated a budget for the scheme in 2020 based on 35% of the number of learners whose legal gender is female and who, based on age, are likely to have started their period. 35% is an assumed take-up rate, reflecting the fact that not all learners will have a need for products all of the time. This mirrors the assumed take-up rate used in the scheme to provide learners in Scotland with access to free period products. The total amount spent through the scheme will depend on the value of period products ordered by schools and colleges.

We are continuing to monitor the scheme closely and we will make information available about any extensions or changes to the scheme in due course.


Written Question
Educational Institutions: Sanitary Protection
23 Sep 2020, 5:28 p.m.

Questioner: Ruth Cadbury

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in the event of an eligible institution not using all of its allocated funding under the period product scheme, whether the remaining funds will roll over for use in 2021.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

On 20 January 2020, the department launched a new scheme which makes free period products available for state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England. The scheme remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and these organisations are still able to order a range of period products and distribute them to learners.

This scheme is in place to ensure that no learner misses out on education due to their period, and we continue to work with our delivery partner, phs, to encourage engagement with the scheme. Schools and colleges should have period products available should learners need them, and they may choose to order products through this scheme or through an alternative route.

Each eligible organisation has been allocated a budget for the scheme in 2020 based on 35% of the number of learners whose legal gender is female and who, based on age, are likely to have started their period. 35% is an assumed take-up rate, reflecting the fact that not all learners will have a need for products all of the time. This mirrors the assumed take-up rate used in the scheme to provide learners in Scotland with access to free period products. The total amount spent through the scheme will depend on the value of period products ordered by schools and colleges.

We are continuing to monitor the scheme closely and we will make information available about any extensions or changes to the scheme in due course.


Written Question
Secondary Education: Sanitary Protection
23 Sep 2020, 5:28 p.m.

Questioner: Ruth Cadbury

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to make the free period product scheme compulsory for secondary schools in England.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

On 20 January 2020, the department launched a new scheme which makes free period products available for state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England. The scheme remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and these organisations are still able to order a range of period products and distribute them to learners.

This scheme is in place to ensure that no learner misses out on education due to their period, and we continue to work with our delivery partner, phs, to encourage engagement with the scheme. Schools and colleges should have period products available should learners need them, and they may choose to order products through this scheme or through an alternative route.

Each eligible organisation has been allocated a budget for the scheme in 2020 based on 35% of the number of learners whose legal gender is female and who, based on age, are likely to have started their period. 35% is an assumed take-up rate, reflecting the fact that not all learners will have a need for products all of the time. This mirrors the assumed take-up rate used in the scheme to provide learners in Scotland with access to free period products. The total amount spent through the scheme will depend on the value of period products ordered by schools and colleges.

We are continuing to monitor the scheme closely and we will make information available about any extensions or changes to the scheme in due course.


Written Question
Schools: Sanitary Protection
23 Sep 2020, 5:28 p.m.

Questioner: Ruth Cadbury

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding has been made available under the free period products scheme for schools in 2020 to date.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

On 20 January 2020, the department launched a new scheme which makes free period products available for state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England. The scheme remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and these organisations are still able to order a range of period products and distribute them to learners.

This scheme is in place to ensure that no learner misses out on education due to their period, and we continue to work with our delivery partner, phs, to encourage engagement with the scheme. Schools and colleges should have period products available should learners need them, and they may choose to order products through this scheme or through an alternative route.

Each eligible organisation has been allocated a budget for the scheme in 2020 based on 35% of the number of learners whose legal gender is female and who, based on age, are likely to have started their period. 35% is an assumed take-up rate, reflecting the fact that not all learners will have a need for products all of the time. This mirrors the assumed take-up rate used in the scheme to provide learners in Scotland with access to free period products. The total amount spent through the scheme will depend on the value of period products ordered by schools and colleges.

We are continuing to monitor the scheme closely and we will make information available about any extensions or changes to the scheme in due course.


Written Question
Educational Institutions: Sanitary Protection
23 Sep 2020, 5:28 p.m.

Questioner: Ruth Cadbury

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the amount his Department will spend under the free period products scheme by the end of 2020.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

On 20 January 2020, the department launched a new scheme which makes free period products available for state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England. The scheme remained in operation during partial school and college closures, and these organisations are still able to order a range of period products and distribute them to learners.

This scheme is in place to ensure that no learner misses out on education due to their period, and we continue to work with our delivery partner, phs, to encourage engagement with the scheme. Schools and colleges should have period products available should learners need them, and they may choose to order products through this scheme or through an alternative route.

Each eligible organisation has been allocated a budget for the scheme in 2020 based on 35% of the number of learners whose legal gender is female and who, based on age, are likely to have started their period. 35% is an assumed take-up rate, reflecting the fact that not all learners will have a need for products all of the time. This mirrors the assumed take-up rate used in the scheme to provide learners in Scotland with access to free period products. The total amount spent through the scheme will depend on the value of period products ordered by schools and colleges.

We are continuing to monitor the scheme closely and we will make information available about any extensions or changes to the scheme in due course.


Written Question
Teachers: Coronavirus
23 Sep 2020, 5:26 p.m.

Questioner: James Murray

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether (a) primary school teachers and (b) other teaching staff who have been in contact with a school bubble in which there has been a confirmed case of covid-19 and who have been asked to self-isolate but are asymptomatic are eligible for a covid-19 test.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

Unless an individual has been specifically asked to do so by a clinician, it is vital that only those who have developed symptoms of COVID-19 get tested. The NHS Test and Trace system must stay focused on testing those with symptoms of COVID-19. The test is most effective for those who are experiencing symptoms.

Anyone who is self isolating as a result of being a close contact of a confirmed case but does not have symptoms should not request a test. This includes if that case was identified in school or college.

The latest clinical advice is that testing of individuals without symptoms should only be used where clinically appropriate, predominantly for outbreak investigation and infection control. This risk based approach ensures that testing is targeted where it is most effective.

All children, young people and staff have access to a test if they display symptoms of COVID-19 and should get tested in this scenario.