Debates between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Berridge during the 2019 Parliament

Schools: Online Learning

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Berridge
Tuesday 23rd February 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con) [V]
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My Lords, those children who were without connectivity or were struggling to engage with education at home could be brought into our schools in England and classified by teachers as vulnerable children, to ensure that they were gaining access to education. Only schools will know how much learning has been lost by students, but we have commissioned Renaissance Learning and the EPI so that we can know, as soon as possible, the data on lost learning in order to help children catch up.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, with the return of schools next month, are there plans to distribute in the long term the many devices that have been provided to those children on the wrong side of the digital divide?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con) [V]
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My Lords, the devices that we have distributed remain the property of local authorities, schools or multi-academy trusts, and we expect them to use those devices flexibly going forward. For instance, if they are running summer schools for some year groups, they can call devices back in from certain pupils and redistribute them. We expect, in the medium-term and long-term, to make sure that the best of our teaching is available to most pupils in this country by using remote education.

Schools: Online Learning

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Berridge
Tuesday 2nd February 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, we made it part of the continuity direction that schools must monitor daily whether children are engaging with education. In addition to devices, we have given the connectivity that children need. We have also set up the national tutoring programme, which is aimed at just the children the noble Lord outlines. The Government have announced a further £300 million for that programme in this financial year. He is right, and catch-up will be a priority for the rest of this Parliament.

Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, the Government are providing further laptops for more than a million schoolchildren, but how are they working with other organisations such as Deloitte, which has donated 5,000 laptops, Raspberry Pi, which has gifted to Catch22 250 kits for its most in-need students, and Mail Force, the Daily Mail’s charitable arm, which is providing new laptops and helping companies to recycle old computers for school use? This seems to be an area where government and business really can work hand in hand to help improve children’s life chances.

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con)
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My Lords, we welcome these initiatives because obviously, this is a time of a national pandemic when we all need to work together. I was pleased to learn that the Daily Mail campaign, through which businesses donate a minimum of 50 computers to be recycled, is being done by Computacenter, which is the department’s commercial procurement partner. It was a pleasure to meet, along with the noble Lord, Lord Watson, representatives of Catch22, who highlighted individuals who may have fallen through cracks and how we can get those devices to the children who need them most.

Free School Meals: Food Parcels

Debate between Baroness Sanderson of Welton and Baroness Berridge
Thursday 14th January 2021

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Sanderson of Welton Portrait Baroness Sanderson of Welton (Con)
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My Lords, this recent episode has, once again, highlighted the importance of an effective free school meals programme. Can my noble friend the Minister confirm whether the Government are considering the recommendation, outlined in the National Food Strategy: Part One, to expand eligibility for the free school meals scheme to include every child from a household where the parent or guardian is in receipt of universal credit?

Baroness Berridge Portrait Baroness Berridge (Con) [V]
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My Lords, we are indeed considering the first part of the national food strategy. We expect part two to be with us, potentially, later this month and the Government have made a commitment to respond to it. We will be carefully considering that suggestion, but it must be borne in mind that there is a long taper for benefits with the universal credit system, rather than a cliff edge. There is data available that suggests that half the school population would then be eligible for free school meals, including some from households in receipt of income in excess of £40,000 a year. We need to consider carefully whether those suggestions are the best use of public funds.