Debates between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 22nd February 2021
3 interactions (244 words)
Thu 3rd December 2020
3 interactions (272 words)
Mon 9th November 2020
4 interactions (303 words)
Thu 18th June 2020
3 interactions (300 words)
Thu 11th June 2020
3 interactions (307 words)
Mon 23rd March 2020
3 interactions (300 words)
Thu 19th March 2020
3 interactions (675 words)
Mon 16th March 2020
3 interactions (308 words)

Education Return and Awarding Qualifications in 2021

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Monday 1st March 2021

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, in the light of the Sutton Trust’s report last week on the hugely negative effects of university closures, especially on disadvantaged students, will the Government consider advancing the date of their review on when remaining students can return to university, particularly since leaving it to the Easter holidays will give little notice to universities, which need to plan to make a much-needed full return?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, there will be a one-week notice period for that. The reason for all these gaps is so that action is taken and data is collected and assessed. There are no plans to change the date of that review, but as the noble Baroness will be aware, students on practical courses should return by the 8th if they have not already done so.

Education: Supply Teachers

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Monday 22nd February 2021

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the noble Baroness is correct. A shortage has been identified in modern foreign languages, but we are seeking to address it by recruiting more permanent modern foreign language teachers. There are 1,687 new modern foreign language teachers in the new cohort. A bursary of £10,000 is available in shortage areas, as well as other arrangements. We have identified 25 local authority areas where modern foreign language teachers can reclaim student loan repayments as part of a way of encouraging them to work in those areas.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, given their commitment to a recovery programme to try to reduce the number of children who may never catch up following the school closures, will the Government ensure that supply teachers are available to contribute, given the pressures that there will be on permanent teaching staff? Will the Minister tell the House whether the necessary online training will be provided for supply teachers taking part in this programme and how such training might be resourced?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the guidance to schools helps them in this time of fluctuating staff absences to address their workforce issues. In particular, it draws attention to the use of supply teachers. Many resources are available, including teacher resources on the Oak National Academy, the remote platform with video lessons for all teaching staff. We are encouraging school leaders to make use of agency staff as and when they are needed to ensure the appropriate level of workforce in their schools.

Covid-19: GCSE and A-level Exams

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Thursday 3rd December 2020

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Government indeed recognise that there has been differential learning loss and—working alongside Ofqual, which has responsibility in this matter—we considered a regional approach, but that was quickly ruled out as unfair. However, we have established an expert advisory group whose job is to monitor and make recommendations about anything further that we can do to address differential learning loss.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I welcome the Government’s decision to hold GCSE and A-level exams this year, and their admission that to cancel them last year was a mistake. It certainly was, as some of us said at the time. The measures that the Government now propose are, for the most part, welcome too, although more than a little late. However, the measures make no reference to FE or HE, even though public exams are a gateway to those sectors. Why have the Government no proposals for schools to inform colleges and universities of how much schooling applicants have missed and whether they had adequate access to online learning? This is vital information if university and college admissions are to be fair.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I can assure the noble Baroness that we have worked closely, obviously, with FE and HE because the examination system of course bolts on to admissions, particularly in relation to the grade profiling that we have outlined. That will be similar but not identical to last year’s, because HE in particular was used to the system that there was last year. However, entry will be on the basis of grades and that is why we have maintained the exams at 16—the majority of English students move institution at that age.

Carbon Emissions

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Monday 9th November 2020

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone
- Hansard - -

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the announcement by the Prime Minister on 6 October that all homes will be powered through offshore wind by 2030, what plans they have to align their skills strategy with their target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Baroness Berridge Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Department for International Trade (Baroness Berridge) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the United Kingdom is the first major country to pass into law a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To build our capacity as an innovator and leader in cutting-edge technology, we will invest in the skills we need to drive those industries. We will develop and grow the workforce needed to meet this ambitious commitment through investment in apprenticeships, boot camps and higher-level technical qualifications.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
- Hansard - -

My lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her Answer, but I do not think that she has given the House any kind of reassurance that there will be a proper strategy. Therefore, can she tell the House whether the Government are planning to have a national strategy, combined with regional skills strategies, to provide reskilling opportunities with low-carbon sectors and, if so, whether an assessment of funding for those strategies will be included in the net-zero review?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, there is a national skills and productivity board, which matches the local panels, and it will bring together leading experts to ensure that we know the emerging skills that we need. We know that at the moment a number of vacancies are due to skill shortages. We are particularly keen on investing in our ports and have invested £160 million in a fund to that end, because we know that at the moment we are the world’s leading market in offshore wind and we need to seize those opportunities, as the possibility of £2.6 billion of exports is ours to grab if we invest in the skills.

Schools and Colleges: Qualification Results and Full Opening

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Wednesday 2nd September 2020

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, it is an integral part of catching up for disadvantaged students to have access to small-group tuition. We hope that this will be one of the changes that Covid-19 brings about, through the use of remote education, for example. In relation to the programme, Teach First is providing it where there must be a person physically in the building—certain schools will need one person to devote themselves to their cohort—but other tutoring will be delivered remotely. That is being delivered through the grant to the Education Endowment Foundation. If the noble Lord could send me details of those companies, the foundation is seeking to make sure that the best tutoring out there is made available to disadvantaged students.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
- Hansard - -

I want to press the Minister on the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Birt, because, regrettably, I do not think her answer was satisfactory. Was it not the Secretary of State who decided not to follow the example of the Scottish Government to bring back teacher assessments instead of Ofqual’s algorithms, which were leading to gross injustices to many students? In these circumstances, why did the Secretary of State not resign, when the Permanent Secretary was shown the door? Surely, this is an abrogation of our constitutional principle that Ministers take responsibility in the end.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I have outlined to noble Lords that once issues were raised about the Scottish results, there were concerns that they should not be repeated in England. That was the moment at which that could be compensated for by the introduction of an additional appeal based on a valid mock. There was a response; it is not that nothing was done once we were aware. When issues were brought to our attention, matters were dealt with.

Schools: Online Support for Pupils

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Thursday 18th June 2020

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the pupil premium is around £2.4 billion a year and the Education Endowment Foundation gives schools information and evidence on the best use of that pupil premium. However, the Government have entrusted school leaders and school professionals to determine the best use of that pupil premium, because they best know the students in their classrooms.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab) [V]
- Hansard - -

We now know that there is a huge and growing inequality in access to learning, with dire effects on children’s mental health. Given the ineffectiveness of remote learning, why have we seen such a pathetic failure in providing a can-do approach to getting all children back to some schooling, not just in September but before the end of this term? Why, for example, have separate morning and afternoon sessions not been introduced, which could double the numbers returning, and why has the Department for Education had so little success in getting a dispensation on social distancing rules in schools, given that the Minister told the House last week that it would be very pleased to move away from the two-metre rule? Is the Secretary of State for Education as invisible in government discussions as he is in the media?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, throughout this pandemic the Government have made it clear that we would be guided by the scientific evidence. The evidence we have at the moment means that there is the two-metre social distancing rule, but I must pay tribute to the teachers who are working hard out there. They have carried on running their schools throughout this pandemic and are now opening them up to reception and years 1 and 6, along with face-to-face time with years 10 and 12. Education is happening but, of course, along with all noble Lords, we want to see all children back at school in September.

Education Settings: Wider Opening

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Thursday 11th June 2020

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, even before the summer, the Government have been clear in their guidance to schools that they should use outside space wherever possible when they reopen. We have provided guidance even on how to introduce team sports for the small groups that are back. However, we are aware that many children will have been sedentary over this period and that is a concern. We have linked to resources to encourage people to get the 60 minutes of exercise a day that Sport England recognises. I will take back my noble friend’s specific question about summer provision of physical activity.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I want to re-put the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Baker, as the Minister did not answer it. Why has the two-metre social distancing rule not been relaxed in line with WHO guidance, since this rule is the main block to all children returning to school at the earliest possible time? Will she accept that a failure to bring children—especially disadvantaged children—back to school poses much greater risks to their academic development, mental health and safety from abuse, whether on the streets or in their homes, than the negligible risks to their health of returning?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, throughout the crisis, the Government have been guided by the science. The view at the moment—based on SAGE and the best science we have—is that social distancing should be at two metres. Should that view change, the Department for Education will of course be the first to welcome that, as it would ease many of the issues that schools have in relation to their buildings. As I said, it is important that the offer has been there for vulnerable children to come to school during this time. The provision for vulnerable children is made in addition to provision for the year groups as they come back.

BAME Students: Pupil Referral Units

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Monday 23rd March 2020

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the noble Lord. On the recruitment of teachers, a £2 million project with the diversity hubs is aimed specifically at increasing the diversity of the workforce, which is an important factor. On non-diagnosis, for every child who is not meeting the requisite attainment standards, graduated action on their attainment gap should be taken by teachers and SEN co-ordinators, regardless of a diagnosis. We are aware that 81% of the children in alternative provision also have special educational needs and disabilities, so we need to intervene earlier. That will be part of the SEN review, to avoid this correlation.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am not clear on what the Minister said in response to my noble friend Lady Lawrence. Can she make it clear whether, in the current circumstances, all pupil referral units will remain open and take in all the children who have been to referred to them for treatment, care and education? If not, will those children be admitted immediately to mainstream schools to ensure that they are not left out, because they are among the most vulnerable?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Baroness will be aware that some pupils who are in a pupil referral unit are still on the roll of a mainstream school and are in alternative provision on a part-time basis. We expect alternative providers to remain open because we are aware that just under half of their cohort will qualify under the definition of vulnerable. We trust head teachers presented with somebody who might not technically be within the letter of “vulnerable” to make that decision, and we will support them in doing so if they view the young person in front of them as vulnerable; for instance, if they had contact with them two or three years ago, they can make that decision.

Educational Settings

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Thursday 19th March 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, raises some of the detailed issues that arise in this unprecedented situation. These matters are being taken into account. Whenever you think about the situation, another implication arises. All that she says will be noted and taken back. As I say, though, the assessment of grades for examinations is something that will be out, I believe, tomorrow.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I have to say that in the 33 years I have sat in this House this is by far the worst education Statement that I have ever listened to. It is wholly inadequate. As the National Association of Head Teachers has said, far more questions arise from it than answers. Before a Statement of this sort is produced, the work should have been done. The Department for Education and the Government have had plenty of time; they have been considering this issue for some weeks yet have come up with something that leaves parents, teachers and pupils in disarray.

I shall just give two examples—I would like to give many others but I must not take up too much of the House’s time. First, the Government have said that schools are going to be kept open for people in the workforce who are in key jobs, not only in the National Health Service but in many other areas. There is absolutely no clarity about how these schools will be chosen. The schools are closing tomorrow night, so what happens on Monday morning when a nurse who works in a crucial ICU does not know what to do or where to send her children? This preparation should have been done properly and it has not. How does the Minister think the system is going to work from Monday when there are so many uncertainties?

Secondly, there is the cancellation of GCSE and A-level exams. Any Minister who has been responsible for this area knows that you cannot play about with the exam system until you have done the necessary preparation so that pupils’ and teachers’ questions can be answered. We have a generation of young people now whose mental health is being jeopardised by the fact that they have not a clue what is going to happen to them regarding their university or job applications—or their college applications, if we are talking about GCSE.

Does the Government agree that it is vital that there is clarity about university entrance? Does the Minister agree that the simplest system would simply be to take the predicted grades, which are all centrally collected and every university has them for the applications they have received, and that any young person who has been made an offer at those predicted grades or below should be told within the next fortnight that their place will be guaranteed? If not, they will be left in extreme uncertainty and misery.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I agree with the noble Baroness that this is the worst Statement, but considering the situation the country faces, if it were possible to provide all the certainty with one click, it would be done. However, parents can be certain that, under the announcement, all schools will be open on Monday, but only for key workers and vulnerable children. In her example, that mother or father needs to go to school as normal if they are a key worker or their child is a vulnerable child. There could not be more consideration and importance being given to the disruption that we are aware will be caused to families as of Monday and to this generation of young people. As the noble Baroness accepted, it is not simple to work out a fair and just qualification for students, but if students are unhappy with the grade that they have been given in whatever the system that will be announced tomorrow is, there will be a way for them to have some form of redress. I assure her that all our education professionals, local authority professionals and central education staff are working as quickly as possible to provide accurate guidance, which, unfortunately, takes some time.

Higher and Further Education: Rural and Coastal Areas

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Wednesday 18th March 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Ed tech is literally just beginning to show us what is possible in relation to education—in international collaboration, yes, but particularly in flexible and distance learning, which can help students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access education further away from home, if they have caring responsibilities, and particularly in relation to special educational needs. We are having a rapid evidence assessment, because teachers need to understand fully the technology now available to best apply it to the students they are trying to teach.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, transport costs are often a barrier to students living some distance away, especially from FE colleges. It was gratifying to hear that some consideration is being given to support students with transport costs. Can the Minister say a little more about that, particularly in relation to students over the age of 19, and whether part-time students will be included in any support planned?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes, what I have outlined covers both bus and rail, but the noble Baroness will be aware that the bursary funding given to institutions can also be given to disadvantaged students. I will have to come back to her about the part-time comment.

Innovation Economy: Skills

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Baroness Berridge
Monday 16th March 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Education
Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, as part of our ongoing commitment to arts in schools, we are continuing funding of about £85 million a year for a range of music and cultural education programmes. Cognitive science shows that a knowledge-based curriculum is then the foundation for stimulating the critical thinking and creativity that we need. That is why the focus of our curriculum is on getting that bed of knowledge on which all students, including arts students, need to build. The Government believe that the short, online, intensive survey by PISA is not sufficient to give us a realistic indication of creative thinking in our students.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, as so often, the Minister made no reference to further education in her initial reply. Given the importance of FE in delivering skills training, will she say something about how the Government will tackle the problem of lack of trained staff in the FE sector, following the enormous cuts made to it? I know that the House will welcome the extra funding that has been provided for FE, but it will be useless if we do not have the relevant and appropriately skilled staff to do the training needed.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for raising the role of FE, which often does not get mentioned in this space. Yes, £400 million has been invested into the estate, and I think that more money was announced in the Budget. There has not been a specific fund to skill up the FE workforce as well, but one initiative that the Government have embarked on are the new institutes of technology, 12 of which have begun to open from September 2019. They are an innovation of employers, universities and the FE sector. The Government are committed to the role of the FE sector in delivering the skills that we need for the future.