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Written Question
Department for Education: Working Hours
21 Jan 2022

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what records his Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

The department does not centrally monitor working hours for any employee but requires all employees, regardless of work location, to keep an accurate record of the hours they work. This must be retained by the employee for 3 years and will be reviewed by their line manager on a regular basis.


Written Question
Parliament: Coronavirus
3 Jun 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many members of House staff by department have (a) tested positive and (b) been hospitalised for covid-19; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Pete Wishart

Testing is available to all staff of the House who are symptomatic, and is arranged directly by the individual. Results therefore are a matter for the individual only, alongside whether any hospital treatment is needed. The records held by the House will only indicate whether the member of staff is available for work or not.


Written Question
Parliament: Coronavirus
3 Jun 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will ensure that a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak will only take place after discussion with the Health and Safety Executive; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Pete Wishart

The Head of Parliamentary Safety has discussed with the Health and Safety Executive the key risks and control measures to allow everybody to work safely on the parliamentary estate during the Coronavirus outbreak. The Health and Safety Executive are content that the House administration is working to ensure Parliamentary business can continue, whilst meeting the Government guidelines to become “COVID-19 safe”. Regular discussions between the Head of Parliamentary Safety and the Health and Safety Executive will continue during the outbreak.


Written Question
Free School Meals: Coronavirus
4 May 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children have become eligible for free school meals since school closures as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Vicky Ford

As education is a devolved matter, this answer refers to free school meals in England only.

It is critically important that eligible children continue to receive benefits-related free school meals during this period. We have published guidance for schools explaining what they should do to make sure that eligible pupils have continued access to this provision, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

As of 28 April our supplier, Edenred, reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of Monday 4 May, Edenred has reported that over £47 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme. We do not collect data at pupil level. The department does not hold information on the number of children that have been fed via school collection and distribution models or other means since school closures.

The department does not hold data regarding how many children have become eligible for free school meals since the school closures. This information will be collected as part of the school census. Schools and local authorities should continue to accept free school meal applications during the closures to ensure that newly eligible children are able to receive meals they are entitled to.


Written Question
Children: Food
4 May 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking in addition to the Holiday Activities and Food programme for safeguarding children's access to food during the summer holidays 2020.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Responsibility for this policy area is devolved.

In England, the Holiday Activities and Food scheme is integral to our approach to provide healthy food to children over the summer and in 2019, our coordinators supported around 50,000 children. We are working with our 2020 coordinators to explore how support can be delivered in light of COVID-19.

In addition, the government continues to invest significantly each year on welfare benefits for people of working age, supporting people when they need it, including those who are out of work or on a low income. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has announced a package of temporary welfare measures. Taken together, these measures provide over £6.5bn of additional support through the welfare system for people affected by COVID-19


Written Question
Free School Meals: Coronavirus
4 May 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of children in receipt of free school meals have been fed through (a) the national voucher scheme, (b) school collection and distribution models and (c) other means since school closures due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Vicky Ford

As education is a devolved matter, this answer refers to free school meals in England only.

It is critically important that eligible children continue to receive benefits-related free school meals during this period. We have published guidance for schools explaining what they should do to make sure that eligible pupils have continued access to this provision, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

As of 28 April our supplier, Edenred, reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of Monday 4 May, Edenred has reported that over £47 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme. We do not collect data at pupil level. The department does not hold information on the number of children that have been fed via school collection and distribution models or other means since school closures.

The department does not hold data regarding how many children have become eligible for free school meals since the school closures. This information will be collected as part of the school census. Schools and local authorities should continue to accept free school meal applications during the closures to ensure that newly eligible children are able to receive meals they are entitled to.


Written Question
Free School Meals
26 Feb 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to provide guidance to schools on good practice in relation to the roll-over of unspent free school meal allowances.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

Free school meals are intended as a benefit in kind, rather than a cash benefit, and our primary interest is that schools meet their legal duties to provide nutritious free lunches to eligible children. It is important that all pupils have access to healthy and nutritious meals at school and we would encourage all eligible children and parents to claim their free meals.

The department does not collect any information on the total or proportion of unspent funds at school or child level. We trust school leaders to make the best decisions in the interests of their pupils and it is right that they have flexibility around how they deliver free school meals. We know that some schools will allow pupils to carry over their benefit, however, we would not want to instruct schools to follow any specific approach nationally. We will consider how we can share the very best practice around the delivery of free school meals.


Written Question
Free School Meals
26 Feb 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much and what proportion of the funds on the cards of children entitled to free school meals was unspent in the latest period for which figures are available; and how much of those unspent funds were (a) rolled over, (b) allocated to the school budget, (b) allocated to caterers and (c) allocated to local authorities.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

Free school meals are intended as a benefit in kind, rather than a cash benefit, and our primary interest is that schools meet their legal duties to provide nutritious free lunches to eligible children. It is important that all pupils have access to healthy and nutritious meals at school and we would encourage all eligible children and parents to claim their free meals.

The department does not collect any information on the total or proportion of unspent funds at school or child level. We trust school leaders to make the best decisions in the interests of their pupils and it is right that they have flexibility around how they deliver free school meals. We know that some schools will allow pupils to carry over their benefit, however, we would not want to instruct schools to follow any specific approach nationally. We will consider how we can share the very best practice around the delivery of free school meals.


Written Question
Free School Meals: Pupil Premium
20 Jan 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the value of (a) free school meals and (b) Pupil Premium that has not been claimed by eligible children in the most recent year for which figures are available.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

In England, free school meal eligibility is used as a proxy measure for allocating the pupil premium. This remains the best available measure at an individual pupil level and the most reliable predictor of academic underperformance. Focusing pupil premium on pupils who have claimed free school meals in the past 6 years ensures schools have additional resources to tackle the educational impact of household economic deprivation.

The continuing provision of free school meals to children from out of work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Take-up of free school meals is strong, estimated at 89% of eligible pupils.

We want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this, we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals. We also provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.


Written Question
Free School Meals
20 Jan 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children eligible for free school meals are not registered to receive them.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

In England, free school meal eligibility is used as a proxy measure for allocating the pupil premium. This remains the best available measure at an individual pupil level and the most reliable predictor of academic underperformance. Focusing pupil premium on pupils who have claimed free school meals in the past 6 years ensures schools have additional resources to tackle the educational impact of household economic deprivation.

The continuing provision of free school meals to children from out of work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Take-up of free school meals is strong, estimated at 89% of eligible pupils.

We want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this, we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals. We also provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.


Written Question
English Language: Refugees
20 Jun 2019

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that all refugees who come to the UK are provided with English language education at the earliest opportunity.

Answered by Anne Milton

The government recognises that learning English is essential in enabling refugees to rebuild their lives. We are working across government to develop a new strategy for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) in 2019, which will provide a shared vision for all publicly funded English language provision, including addressing the needs of refugees.

The department funds ESOL through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), which is allocated to providers on an annual basis. Colleges and adult learning providers have the freedom and flexibility to determine how they use their AEB allocation to meet the needs of their communities and this includes planning, with local partners, the ESOL courses that they will deliver locally. The AEB also provides additional support for learners who face specific financial hardship, which is preventing them from taking part or continuing in learning.

The Home Office and the Department for Education have also provided £10 million to enable refugees resettled through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme to access additional classes.


Written Question
Department for Education: Brexit
14 Jan 2019

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the additional staff required by his Department in the event that the UK leaves the EU (a) with and (b) without a deal.

Answered by Anne Milton

The Cabinet Office and the Department for Exiting the European Union are coordinating planning across government for EU exit. Members of staff across the Department for Education work on EU exit issues, including preparations for leaving the EU without a deal, across a range of policy areas as required.

In addition to a central coordinating team, EU exit work is embedded and prioritised as necessary across the department’s policy responsibilities. It is therefore not possible to give an accurate figure specifically for work on EU exit issues, including on planning for leaving the EU without a deal.


Written Question
Department for Education: Staff
9 Jan 2019

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many staff were employed in his Department on (a) 20 December 2018 and (b) 23 June 2016.

Answered by Anne Milton

Staffing data are produced for the department monthly. The table below shows the number of staff employed in the department at the end of November 2018 and at the end of June 2016:

Date

Headcount

Full-time equivalent

a) November 2018

6308

6074.8

b) June 2016

3531

3395.6

During this period, there have been Machinery of Government changes. This included the department taking responsibility for higher and further education and for the Skills Funding Agency, which merged with the Education Funding Agency to create the Education and Skills Funding Agency.


Written Question
Department for Education: Universal Credit
29 Oct 2018

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the (a) number and (b) proportion of staff employed by his Department in receipt of universal credit; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Anne Milton

The department and its executive agencies do not hold the relevant information to be able to estimate the number and proportion of its staff in receipt of universal credit. Universal credit is dependent on an individual’s circumstances. This includes their housing arrangement, caring responsibilities and dependent children. This information is not held by the department.


Written Question
Department for Education: Equality
28 Feb 2017

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many equality impact assessments have been carried out in the last three years on public service reforms which impact on (a) departmental staff and (b) members of the public; and if she will make a statement.

Answered by Caroline Dinenage

Over the last three years the Department for Education has had and continues to have due regard, as necessary, to the public sector equality duty in exercising its functions. The Equality Act does not require this due regard to take the form of an equality impact assessment, nor does it define an equality impact assessment, and the Department does not maintain a record of such assessments.