Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon debates involving the Department for International Trade during the 2019 Parliament

Queen’s Speech

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Wednesday 12th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab) [V]
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I congratulate the two maiden speakers and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth on his retirement. I bring the House’s attention to my interests in the register.

There have been loads of speeches today, and I congratulate all those noble Lords who made them. I always see myself as somebody who has come to this House without the experience of the majority of noble Lords here. As I sit here listening to the speeches today, I note that much has been said about the Government and the lack of impact within the Queen’s Speech.

In the last 12 months and more, the country has been in the worst pandemic it has seen since the Second World War. The gracious Speech of the Government was short of impact in addressing the Covid-19 disease, which has taken so many lives. I understand that, in the gracious Speech, the Government needed to address the overall health and care of the nation—but, on issues such as the pandemic, I would have expected there to be mention of an inquiry into the loss of so many lives and the disproportionate impact that it has had on certain ethnic groups.

The disproportionality in the deaths is caused by the structural racism that has existed in the NHS for decades. Moving forward, this will need to be addressed by a public inquiry, which would lay it bare to the nation for all to see. I know that yesterday the Prime Minister did mention in the House of Commons that there will be an inquiry. Not much was said about the date this would take place—no date was mentioned. The Government may not want to look back, but by doing so they will help to prepare for future generations.

On the issue of the take-up of the vaccine, there is a background reason for the vaccine hesitancy in the black, Asian and minority ethnic group. Its mistrust of vaccinations is historic, and the Government need to do more to reassure people from this group that the vaccine is safe and will save lives—and they must not, like before, blame this group for spreading the virus.

The percentages for take-up of the vaccine are 98% for white British, 71% for Indian, 87% for Bangladeshi, 71% for black African and 67% for black Caribbean. The take-up has increased. I believe the local community is best placed to support the Government in going forward with the vaccine rollout.

The work of NHS nurses and doctors, before and during the pandemic, is to be commended, as is their dedication and commitment to the profession. I finish by thanking the scientists for their sterling work in developing the vaccine, which has saved lives and given us a future, so that we can move forward.

Covid-19: Pupil Referral Units

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Thursday 22nd April 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Asked by
Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they have given to students in Pupil Referral Units during the COVID-19 pandemic; and whether such students received the same treatment and prioritisation as those in other education settings.

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, it will be no surprise to noble Lords that, on the 28th anniversary of the death of her son, Stephen Lawrence, the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence, is here asking a Question on behalf of others, and I pay tribute to her for that. The Government recognise that education is a key protective factor for vulnerable students, and we therefore prioritise those in alternative provision. These settings remained open throughout the pandemic. Support included last summer’s £7.1 million alternative provision transition fund for year 11 pupils to make a successful transition to post-16 education, additional support through the workforce fund and, most recently, increased levels of funding for mass asymptomatic testing.

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for talking about my son, Stephen. Since the pandemic, have pupils in pupil referral units been supported and prioritised, as those in other educational settings have? What is the impact on their education? Are they being monitored to return to mainstream school? As we know, the majority of people in pupil referral units are boys from the black community.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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The Government were keen to ensure that alternative provision got additional support, so the Covid catch-up fund was triple the amount put into mainstream provision—£240 per pupil rather than £80. An additional £730 million has been put into the high-needs budget this year. The Government are acutely aware that in these settings are some of our most vulnerable young people. I also draw attention to the amazing staff who, during the pandemic, did much to protect them.

BAME Students: Pupil Referral Units

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Excerpts
Monday 23rd March 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

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Asked by
Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the experience of BAME students referred to Pupil Referral Units; and what steps they are taking to ensure that any such students are able to re-enter mainstream education.

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, 27% of pupils in PRUs, alternative provision academies and AP free schools are BAME, compared with 32% in all schools. There is variation among different groups, however, and it is important that we seek to understand those differences. We are committed to improving outcomes for all pupils in alternative provision and will build on the good practice identified by our £4 million AP innovation fund. Three of the projects focus specifically on reintegration into mainstream education.

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Portrait Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)
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I thank the Minister for her Answer. In the last few months, the Evening Standard has been running a campaign to raise funds for young people who have been excluded from school, so that the school can keep them and educate them within its premises instead of sending them off into PRU units. As we all know, young people are very vulnerable and are exposed to gangs once excluded from school. We know that the trap exists for young people who are not in mainstream schools. Do the Government have any policies for reducing the numbers of pupils in PRUs and getting them back into mainstream schools? As we all know, the majority are young black boys. Also, with the partial closure of schools that we have now, are there any thoughts on excluded children?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge
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I am grateful to the noble Baroness for raising a number of issues there. If I may begin with the current policy, yes, AP is included within the request to schools, so that, if at all possible, head teachers should keep that provision open. We believe that about half of the pupils within AP will qualify under the definition of “vulnerable” but we trust that the head teachers will make the correct decisions on the ground. It is of course correct that education is one of the strongest protective factors for young people, and it is this Government’s ambition that there should be an expansion of alternative provision and that being excluded from mainstream education settings should not be an exclusion from excellent education. We have the same aspirations for those in the AP sector as we do in other educational settings.