Initial Teacher Training Market Review

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Wednesday 14th April 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lord’s comments about the Written Answer, which is also informed by the right honourable Nick Gibb, the Minister whose portfolio area this is. In relation to quality, we want to ensure that every person who goes to initial teacher training has that joined-up experience gained from the academic path and being in the classroom. We want to build on the good quality and have asked that the review look at the sufficiency of teacher supply, which is an issue in some parts of the country.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB)
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My Lords, over four years ago, at the Government’s request 15 universities developed a modern languages pathway to qualified teacher status, alongside the languages degree. In the light of the current shortage in this subject, are these programmes part of the market review, and is their future, along with school-centred MFL training, to be safeguarded and continued?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, this review covers the full breadth of the initial teacher training market, so that we can build on the quality that we have. The institutions that the noble Baroness refers to will be able to make their views clear during the public consultation on any recommendations from the review, and there will be stakeholder engagement during the spring. I will take back the noble Baroness’s comments about those institutions and write to her on whether they are part of that process.

Modern Foreign Languages: Teachers

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Wednesday 10th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and declare an interest as co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages.

Baroness Berridge Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Department for International Trade (Baroness Berridge) (Con)
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My Lords, we continue to monitor closely the modern foreign language—MFL—teacher supply and offer bursaries worth up to £10,000 tax free to encourage talented trainees into MFL. In 2020-21, there were 1,687 postgraduate trainees in MFL, an increase of 300 on the previous year and accounting for 72% of the annual target that we set for recruiting postgraduate trainee teachers. In 2019-20, 93% of MFL trainees gained qualified teacher status and 74% of them started teaching in state schools.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB)
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My Lords, against that backdrop of a 28% shortfall and a drop of more than one-third in students doing MFL degrees since 2011, I congratulate the Government on their change of heart in deciding last week to add all MFL teachers to the shortage occupations list. This year’s small increase of 300 is by all accounts going to be temporary, so will the Government now also quickly reverse the dramatic cut in MFL training bursaries from £26,000 to only £10,000, as mentioned by the Minister? MFL is the only shortage subject to suffer such a cut.

Education: Supply Teachers

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

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con) [V]
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My Lords, certain areas of the country have shortages of teachers, particularly in some subjects. If those shortages relate to maths, chemistry, physics or computing, substantial bursaries of £24,000 are available to meet that shortfall. We are aware of population movement due to the pandemic and I assure the noble Lord that we are working as quickly as we can to see where this has taken place to ensure adequate school places.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB)
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My Lords, given the finding of the Migration Advisory Committee that modern foreign language teaching is a shortage occupation, will the Government commission research and data collection to show whether there is a disproportionate recourse to supply teachers for MFL, what level of difficulty is experienced by agencies in providing them and what impact this has on the take-up of teaching and learning languages?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con) [V]
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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.

Schools: Online Teaching

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Thursday 11th February 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, since the pandemic began, 6,900 schools have access through the department’s EdTech programme to get either Microsoft Education or Google Classroom—but my noble friend is correct that we hope this type of online access to the best education on offer in this country will become part of the system going forward. Obviously, the more than £400 million that has been invested is a great platform to build on.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB)
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My Lords, how many children of asylum seekers are unable to access online teaching? Will the Government encourage and fund schools and local authorities to deploy public service interpreters to help asylum seeker parents manage their children’s home schooling?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, within the figure of 1.3 million that I outlined, there will, of course, be some children of asylum-seeking parents who are eligible for free school meals. It is an allocation per pupil, so if there are siblings who claim free school meals, that can be two laptops or tablets per household. Teachers should recognise that, if there are the type of barriers the noble Baroness refers to, they have discretion in those circumstances to classify the child as vulnerable and bring them into school.

Skills for Jobs White Paper

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Tuesday 26th January 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, I hope my noble friend Lord Baker will think that this answer is sweet for him. We as a Government support a strong cadre of university technical colleges. Indeed, one opened with the full support of the sector and the local authority in Doncaster in September. There are UTCs that Ofsted has rated as outstanding, such as the Ron Dearing UTC, and obviously that forms part of the name of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust. When there are further free school applications, we look forward to any applications that are put forward for UTCs. We want to see a strong cadre of UTCs.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB) [V]
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My Lords, the White Paper focuses on English, STEM and digital skills, but employers and the British Chambers of Commerce also say that the UK’s deficit in foreign language skills damages the economy and inhibits recruitment across all sectors and at all levels. Languages are not just an academic discipline; they are a vital technical skill that can boost export growth and social mobility. So will the Minister agree to look at how to integrate foreign language skills into the plans for technical education and the remit of the careers hubs?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness is correct about the importance of modern languages, which is why they are part of the English baccalaureate and why we have given £4.8 million to fund the modern foreign language pedagogy pilot, which is looking at the attainment of languages at levels 3 and 4. However, I suggest to the noble Baroness that, when employers are leading on the local skills improvement plans, if the employers in a region say, “Actually, what we need in addition to that technical skill is a language—for instance, Polish or any other language”, it is open to them to say, “This is a skill that we need in the local area.” Then, as I have said, the strategic development funds will help the colleges to have the content of courses to match that skills improvement fund. If employers need those skills, we hope to see the need for foreign languages coming in as part of many higher technical qualifications and integrate it in that way. I invite the noble Baroness to make sure that employers are doing that as these plans are developed.

Schools: Exams

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Wednesday 6th January 2021

(3 years, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, on the cancellation of exams for this summer, the consultation by Ofqual will include all the factors, including the ones that the noble Lord outlines. We know that although there was generally, percentage-wise, an inflation grade last year over the previous year, there are certain groups—sometimes disadvantaged students, sometimes BAME students—whose predicted grades are less than what they actually achieved. This consultation will enable those factors to be part of that assessment as to how we fairly assess the performance of our young people who will not be sitting exams.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB) [V]
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My Lords, one of the groups that lost out last summer was the group of students studying for a GCSE or A-level in a heritage or community language at a supplementary school that was not partnered with a mainstream school, so they were unable to be awarded a centre-assessed grade. Will the Minister assure the House that, if similar or indeed whatever arrangements are made this year, the Government will work in advance with teachers and all types of school to ensure that no students from supplementary schools are so unfairly disadvantaged again?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, those students at supplementary schools are reviewed as private candidates. That is the same situation that home-educated students found themselves in last year, many of whom took advantage of the autumn series to sit examinations where centres could not, with integrity, give a grade to their work. Again I must point the noble Baroness to the consultation that will take place, but I anticipate that private candidates, including supplementary schools, will be part of what is looked at in the consultation to try to ensure that we can give them a grade through the assessment process in the summer.

Covid-19: Disparate Impact

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Tuesday 27th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB)
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My Lords, according to a Written Answer that I received in July, the Government were not even considering then that the lack of Covid information in languages other than English might be a possible factor in the death rate of certain ethnic minorities, so I am glad that this report recognises the importance of communication in relevant languages. I ask the Minister to reassure me that community champions will be multilingual, that all translated materials in all formats will be promptly updated whenever the English versions are, and that an urgent review will now check whether all the right languages are included so that no minority group, including asylum seekers, is disadvantaged.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Baroness. In fact, £4 million has been spent on communications translating public health information, along with 600 targeted publications to ensure that the messages reach various communities. Local authorities with those specific communities will be targeted, but I will take back the noble Baroness’s concern about making sure that materials are translated promptly. Every avenue is being looked at to ensure communication with different communities. We have also been making use of stakeholder groups, charities, community groups and places of worship; indeed, a task force has been set up because obviously, a very high proportion of black and minority ethnic people attend a place of worship. My honourable friend Kemi Badenoch has even written to a number of high commissioners in London about their diaspora, asking them to help communicate the information to their communities. We are seeking to get the evidence out through traditional means and using social media influencers where we can.

Examinations: A-level and GCSE

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Tuesday 15th September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, we are particularly concerned to ensure that disadvantaged students, along with other students, have the best opportunity to catch up. In relation to 16 to 19 year-olds, £96 million is available for small-group tutoring. However, I reiterate that I would welcome any contributions and ideas from noble Lords to make sure that we have all that information and so that we, Ofqual and sector representatives can work together to ensure that we run exams properly in 2021.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB)
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My Lords, will the scrapping of the spoken element of foreign language GCSE exams in 2021 be temporary? If so, when does the Minister expect it to be reinstated? Has any impact assessment of this measure been made regarding the suitability of this exam for entry into sixth-form or university study, or in the eyes of employers?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, the alteration to the spoken element of foreign language examinations is only for one year; it has not been scrapped. There will be a change to the assessment, but that will be done during the course of study, rather than in a formal speaking exam, which is similar to how English language is conducted in our schools. That was done to reduce the pressure on students and to free up some teaching time.

Employment: Young People

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Monday 20th July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
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My Lords, it is wonderful when employers and other people want to offer their support to the Government. In relation to careers advice, the National Careers Service is the Government’s overarching source of careers information and support, so that would be the first stop. Unfortunately, it is not a one-stop shop. The second stop would be the Careers & Enterprise Company. As my noble friend is probably aware, one of the three prongs of its approach is an enterprise adviser network, and more than 2,000 businesses and other employers are involved in providing that support in schools, so I would also direct those volunteers to that institution so they can assist schools at this time.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB) [V]
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My Lords, we know that having foreign language skills makes school leavers more employable. Post Covid and post Brexit, this will be more so, and there is high demand in finance, telecoms, transport and tourism. Will the Minister include languages as a skills shortage in the national retraining scheme for technical education? Will she also promote effective liaison between the careers hubs and MFL hubs, to show exactly how language skills expand career opportunities and life choices?

Education Settings: Autumn Opening

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Wednesday 8th July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
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My Lords, it has been a pleasure during my tenure as Minister to speak regularly to the Boarding Schools’ Association and the Independent Schools Council. One of the things we have seen during the pandemic is a sharing of educational expertise, not only from the independent sector to the state sector but within the state sector, whether that is sharing online classes, as with the Oak National Academy, or teachers sharing lesson plans. I hope that will be one of the positive legacies of this crisis—that we will continue to share the best of our educational practice so that all pupils can benefit from it.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB) [V]
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My Lords, a foreign language has been compulsory for key stage 2 since 2014, and research shows that it is also beneficial for literacy and oracy in English for that age group. There is therefore widespread concern among teachers and heads that the guidance issued by the DfE last week omitted foreign languages from the subjects to be taught in primary schools when they return. Can the noble Baroness please tell us who took that decision, on what grounds and after what consultation?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
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I am happy to clarify for the noble Baroness that what she outlines for the teaching of modern languages at key stage 2 is not correct. The guidance states that all state-funded schools are expected to teach all subjects from the start of the autumn term but to make use of

“flexibilities to create time to cover the most important missed content”.

I think the misnomer has been created by the fact that the guidance has a list of subjects, which says

“including sciences, humanities, the arts, physical education”,

but does not include modern languages. However, that was an illustrative list of a broad curriculum at key stages 1 and 2 and is not intended to be read as the only subjects or domain to be taught from ages five to 11. The Government expect maintained primary schools to continue to teach languages during key stage 2, but also to use those flexibilities. I hope this clarifies the matter for the noble Baroness.

Covid-19: Educational Gaps

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Thursday 4th June 2020

(4 years ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
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My Lords, we have updated the guidance specifically in relation to mental health and safeguarding to say that mental ill-health symptoms that children exhibit might be connected to a safeguarding issue. Of course in every school there is a safeguarding lead, but there are currently 59 mental health support teams in our schools. There are 123 more in the pipeline, and we aim to train those to enable them to take their place as soon as the situation allows. However, schools are acutely aware of these issues for their children as they return and readjust to learning.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB)
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My Lords, I am concerned about the potential for discrimination against pupils who have been studying at a supplementary school for a GCSE in a less-taught heritage or community language. Will all students be able to sit their exam in the autumn, whether or not they were withdrawn on or before 15 May? Will Her Majesty’s Government endorse Ofqual’s proposal that exam boards be required in the autumn to provide exams in all the languages that would have been provided this summer?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
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My Lords, it is anticipated that the calculated grades that students receive in the summer will enable the majority of them to progress to the next stage as they had hoped. The noble Baroness is correct that the Ofqual consultation proposal reflects the Government’s intention that, for those students who do not believe the calculated grade reflects their attainment, all subjects should be on offer for examinations to be taken in the autumn.

Covid-19: Schools

Debate between Baroness Coussins and Baroness Berridge
Thursday 14th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
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My Lords, disadvantaged students, particularly those in year group 10 that the noble Lord mentioned, are specifically targeted for the computers that the Government have spent more than £100 million on, so that they will be able to catch up on their studies. Obviously, we have asked schools to have some contact with them before the summer holidays.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins (CB)
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My Lords, will the Minister tell the House whether the arrangements for reopening schools will apply equally to supplementary schools, especially those that are registered as community language examination centres?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
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My Lords, the guidance surrounding the return of schools relates to early years schools and colleges. The colleges the noble Baroness mentioned are out-of-school settings, and as many of those are community places—places of worship, et cetera—they are currently not expected to reopen on 1 June, on the basis that in such settings the rate of transmission can often not be lowered in the way it can with the hierarchies of control that can be applied in schools.