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Written Question

Question Link

Wednesday 21st February 2024

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on developing tech skills in the workforce.

Answered by Robert Halfon - Minister of State (Education)

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent and skills are a vital strand of the government’s UK Science and Technology Framework, published in 2023, which aims to cement the UK’s status as a science and technology superpower by 2030.

The department is working with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, including through government-industry groups such as the Digital Skills Council. This brings together government and industry to address current and future demand for digital skills, including promoting routes into digital careers and the range of opportunities to re-skill and up-skill.

The department is making it easier for people of all ages and backgrounds to access the STEM training they need through the ladder of opportunity provided by our skills system reforms, including:

  • Investment of £3.8 billion over the course of this parliament to strengthen higher education (HE) and further education (FE).
  • Scaling up delivery of apprenticeships, T Levels, Skills Bootcamps, and Higher Technical Qualifications, and establishing our network of 21 Institutes of Technology.

There are over 350 high-quality, employer-designed STEM apprenticeships and from 2024 students will be able to apply for apprenticeships on the UCAS website. The number of digital, ICT practitioner apprenticeship starts have increased year-on-year since 2019/20, with 24,140 starts in the 2022/23 year (over 40% increase compared to starts in the 2019/20 year).

Over 1,000 Skills Bootcamps are available across the country, offering training in tech subjects such as software development, cyber security and data analytics.

The introduction of a Lifelong Learning Entitlement will transform access to FE and HE, offering all adults the equivalent of four years’ worth of student loans to use flexibly on quality education and skills training over their lifetime.

These programmes are achieving the vision set out in the UK Science and Technology Framework to boost the supply of tech skills.


Written Question
Overseas Students: Finance
Thursday 8th February 2024

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of (a) reducing and (b) eliminating the residency requirement for British National Overseas visa holders to qualify for (i) home fee status and (ii) student finance.

Answered by Robert Halfon - Minister of State (Education)

To qualify for student finance in the UK, a person must have settled status or a recognised connection to the UK.

Subject to meeting the normal eligibility requirements, British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status holders will be able to qualify for student finance once they have acquired settled status, which is usually after five years, and have three years of ordinary residence in the UK.

The government believes that it is right that the support provided by the taxpayer should be targeted at those who have a history of a lawful and substantial residence in the UK.

There are no plans to review BN(O) status holders’ access to student finance.


Written Question
Pupils: Absenteeism
Wednesday 6th December 2023

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of trends in absence rates of children with pathological demand avoidance.

Answered by Damian Hinds - Minister of State (Education)

The department does not collect data for pupils with pathological demand avoidance (PDA), a profile of autism. Therefore, we cannot accurately assess their current trends in absence rates. However, the department recognises the increase in absence generally for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). For pupils receiving Special Educational Needs (SEN) support, overall absence increased from 6.5% in 2018/19 to 10.0% in 2021/22. For pupils with a SEN provision statement or Education, Health and Care Plan, overall absence increased from 8.7% in 2018/19 to 12.1% in 2021/22.

On 22 November 2023, the department announced the Partnerships for Inclusion of Neurodiversity in Schools programme. This new programme, backed by £13 million of investment, will bring together Integrated Care Boards (ICB), local authorities and schools, working in partnership with parents and carers, to support schools to better meet the needs of neurodiverse children. The programme will deploy specialists from both health and education workforces to upskill schools and build their capacity to identify and meet the needs of children with autism and other neurodiverse needs. One of the key programme metrics will be attendance, as the department recognises that addressing unmet needs and making school more inclusive supports good attendance. The programme will be evaluated, and the learning will inform future policy development around how schools support neurodiverse children.

In 2022, the department published the ‘Working together to improve school attendance guidance’ to ensure greater consistency in the attendance support offered to pupils and families across the country. The guidance emphasises the importance of providing attendance support early and targeted to pupils’ individual needs. The guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-improve-school-attendance.

For pupils with SEND, schools are expected to have sensitive conversations with pupils about their needs and work with families to develop specific support approaches. This includes establishing strategies for removing in-school barriers to attendance, ensuring attendance data for pupils with SEND is regularly monitored to spot patterns and provide support earlier, ensuring joined-up pastoral care is in place, and referring pupils to other services and partners where necessary. These expectations, alongside the expectations placed on academy trust boards, governing bodies, and local authorities to work in conjunction with school staff to provide joined-up support for all pupils and families, is intended to ensure that pupils with SEND are supported to attend school regularly.

Statistics on pupil absence, including breakdowns of absence by characteristics, are available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-absence-in-schools-in-england/2021-22.


Written Question
Childcare: Special Educational Needs
Tuesday 14th November 2023

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate her Department has made of the level of demand for staff who are qualified to provide childcare for children over the age of five with special educational needs.

Answered by David Johnston - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

Local authorities have a legal duty to report annually on how they are meeting their duty to secure sufficient childcare for children aged up to 14, and up to 18 for disabled children. Local authority reports should include specific reference to how each local authority is meeting the needs of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), including how any gaps in provision will be addressed. The report should be made available to parents.

Where adequate childcare provision is not available, parents have the right to request a wraparound or holiday childcare place for their child. Local authorities also have a statutory duty under the Children and Families Act 2014 to maintain a local offer which provides clear, comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date information about support and services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

The department recognises the importance of good quality and inclusive school-aged childcare that supports working parents and carers. The government is investing £289 million in a new wraparound childcare programme to support local authorities and providers in England to introduce or expand childcare provision for primary school-aged children, as part of the largest ever investment in childcare. The programme aims to deliver provision that is child-centred, easily accessible and responds to the needs of the families, including those of children with SEND. Local authorities and childcare providers should recognise the different needs of children who will be accessing childcare and ensure that new and existing provision is accessible to all, including children with complex needs and those in specialist school settings.

The department does not hold data on the demand for staff who are qualified to provide childcare for children over the age of five with SEN. However, as part of the national wraparound programme, local authorities have the flexibility to use some of the funding provided to pay for training for wraparound staff, including specialist training for staff to ensure they feel equipped to support children with SEND.


Written Question
Childcare: Special Educational Needs
Tuesday 14th November 2023

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to help people undertake training in childcare for children with special educational needs over the age of five.

Answered by David Johnston - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

Local authorities have a legal duty to report annually on how they are meeting their duty to secure sufficient childcare for children aged up to 14, and up to 18 for disabled children. Local authority reports should include specific reference to how each local authority is meeting the needs of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), including how any gaps in provision will be addressed. The report should be made available to parents.

Where adequate childcare provision is not available, parents have the right to request a wraparound or holiday childcare place for their child. Local authorities also have a statutory duty under the Children and Families Act 2014 to maintain a local offer which provides clear, comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date information about support and services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

The department recognises the importance of good quality and inclusive school-aged childcare that supports working parents and carers. The government is investing £289 million in a new wraparound childcare programme to support local authorities and providers in England to introduce or expand childcare provision for primary school-aged children, as part of the largest ever investment in childcare. The programme aims to deliver provision that is child-centred, easily accessible and responds to the needs of the families, including those of children with SEND. Local authorities and childcare providers should recognise the different needs of children who will be accessing childcare and ensure that new and existing provision is accessible to all, including children with complex needs and those in specialist school settings.

The department does not hold data on the demand for staff who are qualified to provide childcare for children over the age of five with SEN. However, as part of the national wraparound programme, local authorities have the flexibility to use some of the funding provided to pay for training for wraparound staff, including specialist training for staff to ensure they feel equipped to support children with SEND.


Written Question
Childcare: Special Educational Needs
Tuesday 14th November 2023

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of school aged childcare provision in England for Special Educational Needs children.

Answered by David Johnston - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

Local authorities have a legal duty to report annually on how they are meeting their duty to secure sufficient childcare for children aged up to 14, and up to 18 for disabled children. Local authority reports should include specific reference to how each local authority is meeting the needs of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), including how any gaps in provision will be addressed. The report should be made available to parents.

Where adequate childcare provision is not available, parents have the right to request a wraparound or holiday childcare place for their child. Local authorities also have a statutory duty under the Children and Families Act 2014 to maintain a local offer which provides clear, comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date information about support and services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

The department recognises the importance of good quality and inclusive school-aged childcare that supports working parents and carers. The government is investing £289 million in a new wraparound childcare programme to support local authorities and providers in England to introduce or expand childcare provision for primary school-aged children, as part of the largest ever investment in childcare. The programme aims to deliver provision that is child-centred, easily accessible and responds to the needs of the families, including those of children with SEND. Local authorities and childcare providers should recognise the different needs of children who will be accessing childcare and ensure that new and existing provision is accessible to all, including children with complex needs and those in specialist school settings.

The department does not hold data on the demand for staff who are qualified to provide childcare for children over the age of five with SEN. However, as part of the national wraparound programme, local authorities have the flexibility to use some of the funding provided to pay for training for wraparound staff, including specialist training for staff to ensure they feel equipped to support children with SEND.


Written Question
Childcare: Special Educational Needs
Thursday 26th October 2023

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of school aged childcare provision in England for Special Educational Needs children.

Answered by David Johnston - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.


Written Question
Childcare: Special Educational Needs
Thursday 26th October 2023

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate her Department has made of the level of demand for staff who are qualified to provide childcare for children over the age of 5 with special educational needs.

Answered by David Johnston - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.


Written Question
Childcare: Special Educational Needs
Thursday 26th October 2023

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support her Department (a) provides and (b) plans to provide for people who wish to train in childcare for children with special educational needs over the age of 5.

Answered by David Johnston - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.


Written Question
Special Educational Needs
Friday 30th June 2023

Asked by: Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the provision of services available for SEND children of school age.

Answered by Claire Coutinho - Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

The department published the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan in March 2023, in which we set out our plans to improve the SEND and AP system. The Plan includes the steps we are taking to strengthen accountability across the system to improve the quality of services for children with SEND and in AP. This includes the new Ofsted and Care Quality Commission Area SEND Inspection Framework, the emphasis on SEND pupils in the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework, and the local and national inclusion dashboards launching later this year, which will give parents the opportunity to monitor the performance of their local SEND and AP system.