Music Education

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Tuesday 19th March 2024

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Michael Ellis Portrait Sir Michael Ellis
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My hon. Friend makes a powerful point. As he rightly says, he has been a powerful advocate for NMPAT, and I am so pleased that he is here in support.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
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I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for giving way and for securing this important debate.

It is not just Northamptonshire that is impacted by these financial pressures on our wonderful musical hubs; West Yorkshire is, too. I am very fortunate to have Musica Kirklees in my neck of the woods. Its music director Nick Dolling has been in touch with me about this issue. Previously, it was led by the inspirational Thom Meredith, who produced a stream of talented young musicians for local brass bands, choirs, Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra and many more, to the extent that we have the world-champion Lindley School choir, led by Alison North, in my neck of the woods. We also have the Mrs Sunderland festival and the Haydn Wood musical festival in Linthwaite. There is so much musical heritage, but the people involved are now worried about exactly the financial pressures that my right hon. and learned Friend has mentioned. May I just say that we in West Yorkshire are with him in this campaign? I look forward to hearing from the Minister.

Michael Ellis Portrait Sir Michael Ellis
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I am very grateful to my hon. Friend. He is right that West Yorkshire and counties up and down the country are affected in that way. I am pleased that he is here and in agreement.

This further disruption is demoralising for the workforce. That is the effect of what Peter Smalley and the other heads of hubs have had to do, because it carries the inherent risk of a talent drain and recruitment crisis. NMPAT is also undertaking a full internal financial review to establish where cuts and savings can be made. It is inevitable that some services currently being delivered will be lost, and that costs for parents and schools will rise, perhaps by as much as 20%.

It has become clear that this is a worrying time not just for NMPAT, but for music education hubs up and down the country. I am concerned not just for the hubs that are having to make difficult decisions, but for organisations that perhaps might not be fully aware of the details of the changes that are about to occur. Music hubs making cuts to their budget, which reduces services and outreach, is a situation that we should not allow to occur because of the important impact that music education has.

The Minister’s predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Nick Gibb), said:

“I believe all children, regardless of their backgrounds, should have the same opportunities and that’s why it’s so good to see that our music hubs are reaching so many.”

However, these changes are placing the viability of music hubs under threat. As a hugely successful music hub lead, NMPAT should be looking to expand the number of children it interacts with every year, not facing the unpalatable decision to make cuts to its services. I am aware that the Department for Education has confirmed that there will be some funding to cover the employer pension contribution, and that a formula to agree allocations is being worked on. When the Minister replies in a moment, would he be able to provide more detail on that formula and on whether NMPAT can expect a grant to cover those costs?

It also strikes me that the savings made by this cost-cutting measure will be rather small. According to Music Mark, the cut to the teachers’ pension scheme allowance will save His Majesty’s Government only around £1.2 million, which the House may think is a modest sum in the grand scheme of things. Furthermore, I am told it has been estimated that treating music teachers in independent music hub lead organisations equitably with schoolteachers by providing a grant for their pension schemes would cost only around £2 million annually. Is the cost of the effects of this policy change on NMPAT and other music education hubs around the country worth those relatively modest savings?

Oral Answers to Questions

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Monday 17th July 2023

(12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Claire Coutinho Portrait Claire Coutinho
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I thank the hon. Lady for that question. This is really important. We are trying to make sure that all staff in early years settings are better equipped. We will be setting out a practice guide specifically on early years speech and language, as well as working with the NHS on better diagnostics.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
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T8.   Labour-run Kirklees Council has been sitting on millions of pounds of unspent section 106 infrastructure payments, much of which has been allocated for local schools. In the meantime, I have a local school that has a leaky roof. It is impairing the teachers’ ability to teach the children. May I please ask the Minister what is happening with the latest round of condition improvement funding to help with school repairs?

Nick Gibb Portrait Nick Gibb
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I welcome my hon. Friend’s question. We have spent £15 billion since 2015 on repairs and maintenance of our school estate. We intend to announce any successful appeals from the latest condition improvement fund round this month, as CIF typically opens for applications each autumn. Eligible schools with an urgent condition need that cannot wait until the next round may of course apply for the urgent capital support.

Oral Answers to Questions

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Monday 12th June 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Robert Halfon Portrait The Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education (Robert Halfon)
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The hon. Lady will be pleased to know that male graduates earn more than £130,000 over their lifetime and female graduates £100,000, so graduates are coming out of university with good wages, and we know that more disadvantaged students are going to university than ever before.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
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T5. A number of smaller schools across my Colne Valley constituency have increasing numbers of SEND students. What can the Department do to cajole Labour-run Kirklees Council to deliver timely education, health and care plans and ensure that it is delivering the financial support for the extra educational assistance that these children need?

Claire Coutinho Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Claire Coutinho)
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The work of teaching assistants is incredibly important to the SEND arena. We have taken education funding to real-term historic highs for mainstream education and we have increased the high-needs block by more than 50%.

Suicide Prevention and the National Curriculum

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Monday 13th March 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

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Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Nokes. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Nick Fletcher) for securing this incredibly important debate and for his wider work on mental health, for which he has become well known since coming to the House.

Some 17 people a day take their own lives in the UK—not just today, but tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday and onwards. That is just a statistic, but in the last hour and a half, we have heard many personal, emotional and tragic stories of the individual people—the names—behind that statistic. When I woke up this morning, I listened to Mike, Andy and Tim from 3 Dads Walking on Radio 4 as I was getting ready and packing my bags to catch the train to London. I heard about Emily, Sophie and Beth, which made it very personal, so I thank the 3 Dads for coming along. I also heard that they will be meeting the Education Secretary and the Prime Minister, and I look forward to hearing more about that.

When I returned to Parliament in 2019, I pledged and wanted to do more on suicide prevention and mental health after losing two close friends who took their own lives. I thank the hon. Member for Blaydon (Liz Twist) for the work that we do together on the all-party parliamentary group on suicide and self-harm prevention. We had an emotional meeting last week with James’ Place, the Samaritans and Mike McCarthy, who told us about his son Ross and the walk that he will be doing with the Baton of Hope in June—lots of people are walking and raising awareness. Mike is coming to Parliament with Steve Phillip, who lost his son Jordan.

After listening to the debate for an hour and a half, I ask: what can we do? I am a dad to two teenage daughters and I often—in fact, almost every day—think that I would like to turn off the toxicity, pressures and unreal expectations of social media; I really feel as though I want to switch it all off on their behalf. I also want to erase the isolation, disruption and anxiety that the pandemic caused for young people. I do not think that either of those two wishes is achievable or realistic, so what is?

In memory of Emily, Sophie, Beth, Sean and all the other young people we have heard about, we should get behind the motion. We should see how we can introduce suicide prevention and more support for mental health in the school curriculum in an age appropriate and sensitive way, of course. I hope that we will do our bit here in Parliament and I look forward to hearing from the Minister. To Mike, Andy and Tim, I say, “If you keep walking, we will keep talking.”

Oral Answers to Questions

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Monday 14th March 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
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I notice that the hon. Lady did not recognise, or at least celebrate, the 1 million tutoring blocks that have been delivered, the majority of which have been delivered by brilliant teachers in our brilliant schools, because people wanted a school-led route to deliver that. That is the right thing to do. We are at 1 million blocks, we will hit 2 million this year, and we will go beyond that and hit 6 million in total—then I hope the hon. Lady will celebrate that. It is right for every child to get that opportunity, which was available only to the fortunate ones before.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
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T4. I welcome Kirklees being an education investment area, and Greenhead College, which I visited on Friday, and Huddersfield New College are outstanding providers of sixth-form education to local students. Does the Secretary of State agree that those existing colleges are best placed to support disadvantaged students in my area into universities?

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
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My hon. Friend has been a champion for those who do not have the privileges that others have, and of spreading that opportunity equally. It is vital that universities work in partnership with colleges and local schools, to raise standards so that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have more options and can choose the path that is right for them. That is this Government’s absolute priority.

Oral Answers to Questions

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Monday 6th September 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I just remind everybody that we need brief and punchy questions. I call Jason McCartney to set a great example.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
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T3. Sixth-form education will play a pivotal role in building back better after covid. Will the Secretary of State join me, please, in supporting an increase in base rate funding for sixth-form students to at least £4,760 in the forthcoming spending review? Will he also please agree to meet members of the all-party parliamentary group on sixth-form education, which I co-chair?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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I would be absolutely delighted to meet my hon. Friend and colleagues on the all-party parliamentary group on sixth-form education. He will no doubt be aware that we have already been putting extra resources into 16-to-19 education. An additional £400 million was awarded in 2019. We recognise that it is important to invest in the quality of estate, which is why we are putting £1.5 billion into upgrading that estate.

Oral Answers to Questions

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Monday 21st June 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Caroline Ansell Portrait Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) (Con)
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What steps his Department is taking to provide disadvantaged students with access to high-quality tutoring support.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
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What steps his Department is taking to provide high-quality catch-up support to students.

Henry Smith Portrait Henry Smith (Crawley) (Con)
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What steps his Department is taking to provide high-quality tutoring to disadvantaged students.

--- Later in debate ---
Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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My hon. Friend raises an important issue. As we bring forward the largest investment in tutoring that this country has ever seen, we want to look at how we can continue to make changes and improvements to the whole of the school day. That way, we can not only embed the tutoring revolution that we are driving forward but ensure that the other areas of enrichment that are so important for a child’s development are properly incorporated into any changes.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney
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My area of Kirklees continues to have higher covid case rates than the national average, which means that more pupils and students are having to self-isolate and miss classroom teaching, which has an increased impact on wellbeing and mental health. Will the Secretary of State please tell me what extra catch-up funding and support is available for schools and colleges in areas such as mine, where there are above average rates of absence?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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As my hon. Friend will be aware, there is a £650 million universal catch-up premium, as well as the recovery premium. That funding is very much to ensure that schools such as those in his constituency are best able to target that money at the areas that will have the most impact on children. We must not lose sight of the fact that children from whatever background have been impacted as a result of covid, which is why we have always aimed to have flexibility in the system so that schools can support all children.

Education: Return in January

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Wednesday 30th December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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I thank the hon. Lady for her question, and I can absolutely assure her that the roll-out of mass testing in secondary schools is properly supported. Schools will be getting the first batch of both equipment and tests on 4 January, and this is being distributed right across the country, with additional tests very rapidly following, to ensure that all pupils and all staff within schools can be tested. As I touched on in my statement, we are also looking at rolling out the testing mechanism, the screen testing and the serial testing for staff in primary schools. As I am sure the hon. Lady will appreciate, the ability to deliver testing in primary schools does present some challenges, because the age of pupils in primary school means they are not necessarily able to do it themselves. However, when we are in a position to go further on testing and home tests can be distributed, we will look at expanding the role of mass testing in schools even further.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con) [V]
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I would like to thank all the wonderful teachers and support staff across my constituency and to welcome plans for all secondary and college students to receive two rapid tests at the start of term. The Royal Air Force has already been helping to deliver rapid tests across Kirklees as part of mass community testing. Has the Secretary of State considered using military support on the ground in schools and colleges, having done such a wonderful job in extreme circumstances in the past few months, to help deliver mass rapid tests and take the pressure off some of our teachers?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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I join my hon. Friend in his thanks. I know that he served in the Royal Air Force for a number of years, so he has a particular fondness for our armed forces, as we all do. The armed forces have done an amazing job. Looking at the sheer number of schools across the country and the whole workforce within them, we felt that it would not be right or proper to ask the armed forces to deliver testing in every single secondary school. That is why we have provided additional financial support for schools to help them deliver the mass testing regime. We are very fortunate that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has agreed a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities request that means that we are able to provide military support to schools that are really struggling to set up a testing regime. We believe that when they are set up, schools will be in an excellent position to keep running and have a real impact in driving down coronavirus infection rates in my hon. Friend’s constituency and all our constituencies.

Exams and Accountability 2021

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Thursday 3rd December 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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The measures we have introduced are very much designed to support the pupils the hon. Gentleman talks about. I know from personal experience—my own daughter has had to isolate and is facing her GCSE exams in this academic year—the impact it has on all children. That is why we have put these measures forward to assist all children. That is what we have done, and we believe they will make a significant difference to all children in his constituency and mine.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con) [V]
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I appreciate that there are no easy solutions here. I have been discussing these difficult issues with the principals of my local sixth form colleges—New College and Greenhead College. My area in West Yorkshire has had some of the highest covid rates in the country, with hundreds of students off with covid or self-isolating at any one time. How will the Secretary of State make it fair for students in my patch who have been disproportionately impacted by covid, and level up their life chances?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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This is what all the measures we are introducing are aimed at doing: making sure that children who have missed out on the opportunity to learn are able to focus their efforts, as they come to the crucial exam period, on the things that will matter most to them as they try to achieve the very best grade. This is on top of the action we have taken with the covid catch-up fund, which has already been initiated and is available to all students in my hon. Friend’s constituency.

Lifetime Skills Guarantee and Post-16 Education

Jason McCartney Excerpts
Thursday 1st October 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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Of course, we will always work with all devolved authorities. The hint is in the title—this is a national guarantee, which means that we must have parity in every part of the country. We must ensure that, whether it is in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, my constituency or any other part of England, there is a set national standard, because it is a national guarantee.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con) [V]
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I very much welcome what the Secretary of State has announced. What measures is he putting in place to support final year GCSE and A-level students who are still having their studies disrupted by the pandemic? When will he make an announcement about his plans for the exams next year?

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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I will give the Secretary of State some latitude, but that question really was not on the statement.