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Written Question
Babies and Children
9 Sep 2020

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the Government's timeframe is for the reopening of maternal and child classes as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Activities for families and their young children, for example baby and toddler groups, can operate provided they, and the premises they operate from, follow relevant government guidance.

Guidance on which premises and businesses are legally able to open is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance.

Providers should also have regard to and, where relevant, ensure that they are following guidance on the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities.

Ofsted registered early years providers should ensure they are following guidance for early years and childcare providers, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.


Written Question
Pre-school Education: Social Distancing
7 Sep 2020

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has for issuing further guidance on which social distancing measures will need to be in place when pre-school education resumes during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Keeping children safe is our utmost priority.

From 20 July, early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) have been allowed to return to normal group sizes. This is because there is moderate to high scientific confidence in evidence suggesting younger children are less likely to become ill with COVID-19, and high scientific confidence that children of all ages have less severe symptoms than adults if they do get ill. Furthermore, early years settings are already required to operate within strict staff-child ratio and space requirements.

We continue to expect that early years settings will consider how they can minimise mixing within settings, for example where they use different rooms for different age groups, keeping those groups apart as much as possible.

Settings are also required to follow a Public Health England endorsed ‘system of controls’ to minimise risks. For example, enhanced cleaning, thorough hand cleaning, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where applicable. Detailed guidance has been issued and is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care-settings-including-the-use-of-personal-protective-equipment-ppe; and here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.


Written Question
Childminding: Coronavirus
9 Jun 2020

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what further plans he has to provide additional support to child minders during the easing of the covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Our guidance for early years providers details the package of support the government has put in place for workers and businesses which will benefit childcare settings, including:

  • confirmation that the government will continue to pay local authorities for free early years entitlement places for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds
  • the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced would be extended from 29 May. Those eligible under the SEISS will be able to claim a second and final grant in August, which will be capped at £6,570 in total
  • for the self-employed (including childminders), the minimum income floor has been temporarily relaxed, meaning Universal Credit can be accessed at a rate to match statutory sick pay

The guidance can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding.

Further information about the Chancellor’s announcement is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-self-employment-support-scheme-and-confirms-furlough-next-steps.

Following my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister’s announcement on 28 May that the government’s five tests have been met, the decision was made, based on all the evidence, to ask childcare providers to welcome back all children below statutory school age from the week commencing 1 June. This includes childminders who will additionally be able to care for school aged children, up to the statutory maximum and in line with their current Ofsted registration. The department has published a planning guide to help childcare providers prepare to open their settings for all children, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-for-the-wider-opening-of-early-years-and-childcare-settings-from-1-june.


Written Question
Nurseries: Coronavirus
26 Mar 2020

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to provide financial support to private nurseries in the event that they are required to close during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Childcare providers are making a vital contribution in our fight against Covid-19. The Department for Education has confirmed that it will not claw back funding from local authorities for any periods of closures where settings are closed on medical advice or if children are not able to attend due to Covid-19. The government expects local authorities to follow the department’s position, and continue early years entitlements funding for childminders, pre-schools and nurseries. This should also apply to those infant and primary schools that deliver the early years entitlements. This will minimise short-term disruptions to early years providers’ finances and allow the system to recover more quickly.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a package of support for businesses that will include many early years and childcare providers. This includes business rates relief, a range of loans and grants and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that for employees who are not working but kept on payroll, the government will contribute 80% of each worker’s wages of up to £2,500, backdated to 1 March 2020. Providers can access this scheme while continuing to be paid the early entitlements funding via local authorities.

The department continues to work alongside Public Health England and with early years sector representatives to ensure that measures taken are in the best interests of the health of our nation whilst minimising the impact on individual childcare settings.

The latest guidance for schools and other educational settings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.


Written Question
GCSE: Coronavirus
24 Mar 2020

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to reschedule GCSE examinations during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Nick Gibb

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This includes all GCSE examinations.

The Department’s priority for GCSE students is to ensure they can move on as planned to the next stage of their education, including starting college, sixth form courses or apprenticeships, in the autumn. We will ensure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. The qualifications regulator Ofqual is working urgently with examination boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and more information will be provided as soon as possible.

The Department recognises that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they have not been able to sit their examinations. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an examination, as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the new academic year. Students will also have the option to sit their examinations in summer 2021.


Written Question
Apprentices: Skilled Workers
24 Oct 2018

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support high-skilled apprenticeships.

Answered by Anne Milton

The government’s apprenticeship programme supports the development of the skilled workforce businesses need to make sure they are fit for the future.

The apprenticeship reforms that were introduced in 2017 are putting employers in the driving seat and raising the quality of apprenticeships. Over 350 new employer-designed apprenticeship standards at all levels have now been approved, with more in development. The apprenticeship levy means that there is sustained investment in apprenticeship training. The annual apprenticeship budget will rise to £2.45 billion by 2020. We also provide generous co-funding for apprenticeship training for small and medium-sized enterprises, ensuring that all employers can make a sustainable investment in the skills they need to grow.

These reforms are already raising the quality of apprenticeships. The proportion of people starting on new employer-designed standards is now over 40 per cent compared to just 2.5 per cent this time last year. In the same period, the average number of training hours per apprenticeship increased by 20 per cent. We have also seen a healthier balance of apprenticeships across all skill level. The numbers of apprenticeship starts at higher levels (level 4 and above) have risen by almost 13 per cent compared to the same point the previous year.


Written Question
Pupils: Mental Health
24 Jul 2018

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure the availability of support for children's mental health in the run-up to examinations.

Answered by Nick Gibb

Schools are responsible for preparing their pupils for examinations and should have strong pastoral support in place to help pupils with any worries they might have.

The Government has taken steps to increase teachers’ awareness of mental health issues. The Department of Health and Social Care is funding mental health awareness training for every secondary school teacher and plans to extend this to all primary schools before the end of this Parliament. This is in addition to funding MindEd – a free online portal providing information and training about mental health problems for adults working with children and young people.

Where pupils have an emerging mental health issue, many schools offer support. A Departmental survey indicated that 84% of secondary schools provide school-based counselling for pupils with emerging issues.

As set out in the green paper ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health provision’, the Government has committed to funding all schools to train a designated senior lead for mental health. The leads will be trained to promote and support good mental health and wellbeing in a school setting. The paper includes proposals for new Mental Health Support Teams. These will be made up of professionals trained in evidence-based interventions, with supervision from clinicians, to work alongside teachers and other professionals such as counsellors to provide support. The teams will also provide better routes into specialist NHS services for the pupils who need them.


Written Question
Pupils: Sanitary Protection
23 Apr 2018

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to encourage schools to use their budgets to provide sanitary products for children who are unable to afford them.

Answered by Nadhim Zahawi

Our Sex and Relationships Education guidance encourages schools to make adequate and sensitive arrangements to help girls cope with menstruation. Schools are best placed to assess the needs of their pupils, have discretion over how they use their funding and can make sanitary products available to pupils if they identify this as a barrier to attainment or attendance.

We support schools in addressing the needs of disadvantaged pupils through the provision of the Pupil Premium, equivalent to almost £2.5 billion of additional funding this year alone. Moreover, as a government, in this round of the Tampon Tax Fund we will provide £1.5 million for the ‘Let’s Talk. Period.’ Project, which will distribute sanitary products to young women and girls in need across England.

We are committed to ensuring that any action to support disadvantaged pupils is based on robust evidence. We have sought to establish whether there has been any rigorous national assessment of the prevalence of period poverty or its impact on attendance, however none appears available. We reached out to school stakeholders in July 2017 through the Association of School and College Leaders forum asking for contributions on the issue and received a very limited response. As promised in the House, we have reviewed our absence statistics and our recently published analysis shows no evidence that period poverty has a significant nation-wide impact on school attendance. We do want to find out more; this is why we intend to place questions on these issues in the department’s 2018 surveys for pupils and senior school leaders.


Written Question
Sixth Form Education: Finance
22 Dec 2017

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what funding his Department makes available to sixth forms and colleges in the first twelve months after a merger.

Answered by Anne Milton

The Education and Skills Funding Agency provides combined funding allocations for the merged institution based on the allocations that would have been made to the individual merging institutions


If there are special circumstances, such as the terms of a merger changing the nature of the student body, the merged college can submit a business case to adjust funding allocations accordingly, which will be considered on its merits


In certain circumstances, the government's Restructuring Facility may be available. Further Education or Sixth Form Colleges in England, impacted by a substantive Area Review recommendation, including merger, and who are unable to fund the change themselves, can seek funding from this.

The Restructuring Facility is available to support eligible expenditure up to March 2019, with the last date for applications in September 2018.


Written Question
Academies: Capital Investment
22 Dec 2017

Questioner: Damien Moore (CON - Southport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional funding is available to new academies for programmes of facility and building improvement and modification.

Answered by Robert Goodwill

The government has committed to invest more than £23 billon in the school estate between 2016-17 and 2020-21. This includes a combination of formula and bid-based allocations to schools, local authorities and academy trusts and centrally delivered programmes.

Academies are able to access funding in different ways depending on their structure and size. Allocations include School Condition Allocations and Devolved Formula Capital, and the bid-based Condition Improvement Fund. Other funding is available through centrally-delivered programmes, including the £4.4 billion Priority Schools Building Programme. Revenue funding can also be used for capital purposes.

In addition to this, we offer Environmental Improvement Grants for light refurbishment works. These are available to sponsored academies that need the most support when converting to assist them to raise standards and transform educational attainment.