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Written Question
Pre-school Education: Standards
29 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of early years provision.

Answered by Will Quince

High quality, accessible childcare is important in ensuring that every child has the best possible start in life. The overall quality of provision within the early years sector remains high and, as of 31 March 2021, 96% of providers on the Ofsted Early Years Register were judged good or outstanding, which is a substantial increase from 74% in 2012. Ofsted are responsible for monitoring the quality of provision.

We continue to monitor the sufficiency of childcare through regular attendance data collection and monitoring the open or closed status of providers. We also discuss sufficiency of provision in our regular conversations with local authorities. Local authorities are not currently reporting any significant sufficiency or supply issues and we have not seen any significant number of parents unable to secure a childcare place, either this term or since early years settings re-opened fully on 1 June 2020.

Ofsted data shows that as of March 2021 the number of childcare places available on the Early Years Register has remained broadly stable since August 2015.


Written Question
Pre-school Education
29 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the role of early years services is in the Government's Levelling Up agenda.

Answered by Will Quince

Levelling up is at the heart of the agenda to build back better after the COVID-19 outbreak and to deliver for every part of the UK. The department takes a dual approach to disadvantage: tackling outcome inequalities nationally while tilting efforts to, and working specifically in, places of greatest need.

In education, ability is evenly spread but opportunity is not. We know that differences in outcomes start early. To really tackle our levelling up challenge, we must look at our support for children and young people at every level, from support for families and childcare, through to university, and to develop skills throughout life.

We are already making progress. On 2 June 2021 we announced an additional £1.4 billion education recovery package, which includes a £153 million investment in evidence-based professional development for early years practitioners, including through new programmes focusing on key areas such as speech and language development.

This is in addition to the £27 million which we are already investing to support children’s early language development in light of the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • £17 million is to deliver the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) in schools that would particularly benefit. Two thirds of primary schools have already signed up for the programme.
  • £10 million will support language development for pre-reception children in the next academic year.

What happens outside of schools and settings is also important. The government is investing over £34 million to champion family hubs. This approach will help to support children of all ages and their families across a broad range of needs in their localities. This investment includes establishing a new national centre for family hubs, run by the Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families; a new transformation fund to open family hubs in around 10 local authorities; an evaluation innovation fund; and work with local authorities to develop data and digital products that will support the practical implementation of family hubs.

The government will publish a landmark Levelling Up White Paper later this year, setting out bold new policy interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunity in all parts of the UK.


Written Question
Pre-school Education: Finance
29 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding for early years services.

Answered by Will Quince

We are making our usual preparations for the imminent Spending Review, which will set departmental budgets for all financial years from 2022-23 to 2024-25.

Ministers and officials from the department will continue to have discussions with HM Treasury as the Spending Review progresses.


Written Question
Pre-school Education: Coronavirus
28 Jun 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make a statement on the ways in which early years provision will feature as part of the covid-19 catch-up recovery strategy; and how opportunities for play will be (a) encouraged, (b) supported and (c) facilitated.

Answered by Vicky Ford

On 2 June 2021, as part of the government’s announcement on providing an additional £1.4 billon for education recovery, we announced a £153 million investment for high-quality professional development for early years practitioners. This includes new programmes focusing on key areas such as speech and language development, and physical and emotional development for the youngest children, of which play is an important part. This is in addition to the £18 million announced in February 2021 and the £9 million announced in June 2020 to support early language development for children in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The package will build on our early years foundation stage reforms, which support more effective early years curriculum and assessment, and reducing unnecessary assessment paperwork, so that practitioners and teachers can spend more time engaging children in rich activities, including through play, to support their learning.


Written Question
Pupils: Disadvantaged
21 Jun 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

What assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for disadvantaged pupils.

Answered by Nick Gibb

All children have had their education disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, but it is likely that disadvantaged and vulnerable groups will have been hardest hit.

Since 2011 we have spent more than £20 billion to provide Pupil Premium funding for school leaders to use, based on the needs of their disadvantaged pupils. Between 2011 and 2019, the attainment gaps between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils narrowed by 13% at age 11 and 9% at age 16.

On top of this funding, we increased core schools funding by £2.6 billion last year and are increasing core schools funding by £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively, compared to 2019-20.

In addition, over the past year we have made three major interventions to support education recovery, totalling over £3 billion additional spend: £1 billion in June 2020, a further £700 million in February 2021 and our latest £1.4 billion package announced in June 2021.

Recovery programmes have been designed to allow early years, school and college leaders the flexibility to support those pupils most in need, including the most disadvantaged. The latest announcement expands our reforms in two areas where the evidence is clear our investment will have a significant impact for disadvantaged children, high quality tutoring and great teaching.

We are providing over £1.5 billion for tutoring programmes, including an expansion of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), an ambitious scheme that supports schools to access targeted tutoring intervention for disadvantaged pupils who have missed out on learning due to school closures. We will also provide greater flexibility to schools to make it easier for them to take on local tutors or use existing staff to supplement those employed through the NTP. This new blended offer ensures that the NTP works for all disadvantaged children, giving schools the flexibility to choose what type of approach best suits their needs and those of individual pupils.

The £302 million Recovery Premium has been weighted so that schools with more disadvantaged pupils receive more funding and includes £22 million to scale up proven approaches to reduce the attainment gap.

We have also invested more than £400 million to provide internet access and over 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people.


Written Question
Education: Mental Health Services
9 Nov 2020

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to accelerate the roll out of community mental health teams to schools and colleges, and to extend it to universities, as recommended by the Samaritans in their October 2020 report entitled Pushed from pillar to post: Improving the availability and quality of support after self-harm in England.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Supporting and promoting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing is a priority for this government. We continue to work closely with schools, colleges, the higher education sector, and local areas to provide support, guidance, and encourage good practice.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has overall policy responsibility for children and young people’s mental health. The Department for Education works closely with DHSC to take significant steps to support the mental health and wellbeing support for young people across all education settings.

Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) are an important part of our long term plan to promote and support children and young people’s mental health in state-funded schools and colleges, and we remain committed to rolling them out to at least a fifth to a quarter of the country by the end of the academic year 2022/23.

There are 59 MHSTs already established in 25 areas across the country. An additional 123 MHSTs are being set up in a further 57 areas this year, and a further 104 teams have been commissioned to begin training in academic year 2020/21. Once established, MHST support schools and colleges to promote good mental health, identify and manage a wide range of issues relating to mental health and wellbeing, and deliver interventions for mild and moderate needs. This may include thoughts of self-harm and providing support with alternative coping strategies.

The NHS Long Term Plan commits to ensure that, by the academic year 2023/24, at least an additional 345,000 children and young people aged 0 to 25 will be able to access support from NHS-funded children and young people’s mental health services (formerly CAMHS) and school–based or college-based mental health support teams. Funding for CYMPHS has grown faster than overall NHS and adult mental health spending.

Every NHS mental health trust in England has provided 24/7 crisis helplines for those in all age groups who need urgent help in a mental health crisis, and will continue to do so over the coming months. We provided funding and support to the people and organisations who play a vital role in young people’s mental health, with over £10 million of funding to support mental health charities, including Young Minds and Place2Be which specifically support the mental health of children and young people. We have invested £8 million in local authorities to fund mental health and wellbeing experts to provide advice and resources for education staff to support and promote children and young people’s mental health.

We recognise that many university students are facing additional mental health challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, and it is important students can still access the mental health support they need.

My right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, wrote to Vice Chancellors in October outlining that student welfare should remain a priority, and has convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and health sectors to specifically address the current and pressing issues that students are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Higher education providers are expected to continue to support their students. This has included moving services online or making services accessible from a distance and we encourage students to stay in touch with their provider’s student support and welfare teams as these services are likely to continue to be an important source of support. Many providers have bolstered their existing mental health services, and adapted delivery to means other than face to face. Staff at universities and colleges responded quickly to the need to transform mental health and wellbeing services, showing resourcefulness and there are many examples of good practice.

The Office for Students funded Student Space platform bridges gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation and is designed to work alongside existing services. Students struggling with their mental health at this time can also access support via the NHS at: https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/category/mental-health/.

Online resources from Public Health England can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing, along with support from mental health charity, Mind, available here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/student-life/about-student-mental-health/.


Written Question
Pupils: Coronavirus
6 Nov 2020

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children with complex needs that require aerosol generating procedures (AGP) have not been able to return to school as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if his Department will work with Public Health England on guidance to urgently ensure a safe return to school for all children.

Answered by Vicky Ford

We are aware of a small number of children with complex needs, including those that require Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs), who have found it harder to return to schools. We are working with families, education settings, health services and local authorities to ensure that they are able to attend safely as soon as possible.

We published the Safe Working Guidance to help support schools in keeping everyone safe, including those children with complex medical needs who require AGPs and the staff carrying out the procedures. We are trying to give the best possible guidance to schools while recognising that every school setting is different. This guidance 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.

The department has worked closely with Public Health England and stakeholders to publish guidance based on a ‘system of controls’ which, when implemented, creates an inherently safer system where the risk of transmission of the infection is substantially reduced. This includes guidance on the specific protective measures needed to undertake AGPs in education settings to manage risk effectively. The guidance can be found 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.

The guidance on undertaking AGPs in education settings, including where use of a designated room is not possible, can be found 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.

We have heard examples of good practice locally and are working with Public Health England and NHS England to establish whether any changes to the guidance or further information about practice principles are needed.

The Departments SEND and NHS England Adviser teams are working with local areas affected by this situation to determine whether further local measures can be put in place to secure pupils’ return to school. It is important that schools communicate clearly with parents on progress towards supporting children who need AGPs to return to school safely and provide remote education and support if they are unable to do so.

We do not hold data on the number of schools that do not have a separate room to undertake AGPs.


Written Question
Schools: Coronavirus
6 Nov 2020

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether Public Health England consulted with schools on the guidance on aerosol generating procedures (AGP); and if his Department will work with Public Health England to provide guidance to schools who cannot comply with measures to have a separate room to undertake AGP so that children are not prevented from going to school.

Answered by Vicky Ford

We are aware of a small number of children with complex needs, including those that require Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs), who have found it harder to return to schools. We are working with families, education settings, health services and local authorities to ensure that they are able to attend safely as soon as possible.

We published the Safe Working Guidance to help support schools in keeping everyone safe, including those children with complex medical needs who require AGPs and the staff carrying out the procedures. We are trying to give the best possible guidance to schools while recognising that every school setting is different. This guidance 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.

The department has worked closely with Public Health England and stakeholders to publish guidance based on a ‘system of controls’ which, when implemented, creates an inherently safer system where the risk of transmission of the infection is substantially reduced. This includes guidance on the specific protective measures needed to undertake AGPs in education settings to manage risk effectively. The guidance can be found 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.

The guidance on undertaking AGPs in education settings, including where use of a designated room is not possible, can be found 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.

We have heard examples of good practice locally and are working with Public Health England and NHS England to establish whether any changes to the guidance or further information about practice principles are needed.

The Departments SEND and NHS England Adviser teams are working with local areas affected by this situation to determine whether further local measures can be put in place to secure pupils’ return to school. It is important that schools communicate clearly with parents on progress towards supporting children who need AGPs to return to school safely and provide remote education and support if they are unable to do so.

We do not hold data on the number of schools that do not have a separate room to undertake AGPs.


Written Question
Schools: Coronavirus
6 Nov 2020

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools do not have the facilities to allow children with complex needs that require aerosol generating procedures to return to school; and what steps he is taking to support those schools to ensure that all children can return to school during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Vicky Ford

We are aware of a small number of children with complex needs, including those that require Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs), who have found it harder to return to schools. We are working with families, education settings, health services and local authorities to ensure that they are able to attend safely as soon as possible.

We published the Safe Working Guidance to help support schools in keeping everyone safe, including those children with complex medical needs who require AGPs and the staff carrying out the procedures. We are trying to give the best possible guidance to schools while recognising that every school setting is different. This guidance 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.

The department has worked closely with Public Health England and stakeholders to publish guidance based on a ‘system of controls’ which, when implemented, creates an inherently safer system where the risk of transmission of the infection is substantially reduced. This includes guidance on the specific protective measures needed to undertake AGPs in education settings to manage risk effectively. The guidance can be found 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.

The guidance on undertaking AGPs in education settings, including where use of a designated room is not possible, can be found 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.

We have heard examples of good practice locally and are working with Public Health England and NHS England to establish whether any changes to the guidance or further information about practice principles are needed.

The Departments SEND and NHS England Adviser teams are working with local areas affected by this situation to determine whether further local measures can be put in place to secure pupils’ return to school. It is important that schools communicate clearly with parents on progress towards supporting children who need AGPs to return to school safely and provide remote education and support if they are unable to do so.

We do not hold data on the number of schools that do not have a separate room to undertake AGPs.


Written Question
Students: Coronavirus
8 Oct 2020

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to provide additional mental health support for students in response to covid-19 restrictions.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

Protecting all students', domestic and international, mental health and wellbeing continues to be a priority for this government. The disruption and uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted all age groups, but particularly young people who are making transitions during this time.

Higher education providers are best placed to identify and address the needs of their particular student body as well as how to develop the services needed. Many providers have boosted their existing welfare and counselling services to ensure support services can be accessed, which is particularly important for those students having to self-isolate or who are affected by local restrictions.

Student Space, funded with £3 million from the Office for Students (OfS), provides dedicated support services (phone and text) for students and a collaborative online platform to help students access vital mental health and wellbeing resources. The platform bridges gaps in support for students arising from the outbreak and is designed to work alongside existing services.

The government has recently provided over £9 million to leading mental health charities to help them expand and reach those most in need. In addition, NHS mental health trusts are ensuring 24/7 access to crisis telephone lines to support people of all ages.

We have asked providers to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of students during this period and have enabled them to use funding, worth up to £23 million per month from April to July this year and £256 million for the academic year 2020/21 starting from August, to go towards student hardship funds and mental health support.


Written Question
Students: Coronavirus
8 Oct 2020

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on safe home visits for students at Christmas 2020.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has regularly discussed the reopening of higher education (HE) providers with his Cabinet colleagues, including with my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. The arrangements for the end of the autumn term were discussed on Monday 28 September.

As the Secretary of State for Education announced to the House on Tuesday 29 September, the department is working with universities to make sure that all students are supported to return home safely and spend Christmas with their loved ones, if they choose to do so. Where students choose to stay in their university accommodation over Christmas, universities should continue making sure that they are safe and well looked after. The department will work with universities to publish guidance on students returning home safely at Christmas, shortly.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in HE is always our priority, and the government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying at HE providers in this unprecedented situation, while mitigating the impact on education.


Written Question
Free School Meals: Blaydon
25 Jun 2020

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support the families of pupils eligible for free school meals in Blaydon constituency during the school summer holidays in 2020.

Answered by Vicky Ford

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave on 23 June 2020 to Question 54195.


Written Question
Sex and Relationship Education
20 Mar 2020

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many hours of training each teacher will receive to deliver the new Relationships education, relationships and sex curriculum.

Answered by Nick Gibb

The Department is committed to supporting schools to deliver high-quality teaching of relationships education, relationships and sex education, and health education.

Many schools are already teaching aspects of these subjects as part of their sex and relationships education provision or their personal, social, health and economic education programme. Schools have flexibility to determine how to deliver the new content, in the context of a broad and balanced curriculum.

To support schools in their preparations, the Department is investing in a central package to help all schools to increase the confidence and quality of their teaching practice. We are currently developing a new online service featuring innovative training materials, case studies and support to access resources. This will be available from April 2020 with additional content added through the summer term, covering all of the teaching requirements in the statutory guidance. We will also publish an implementation guide which will be provided to all schools as part of this service, and face-to-face training will be available for schools that need additional support.

The Department is currently working with lead teachers, non-specialist teachers, schools and subject experts to develop this central programme of support to help ensure it meets the needs of schools and teachers. It will complement the wide range of training opportunities that are being provided by local authorities and sector organisations.


Written Question
Domestic Abuse: Sex and Relationship Education
20 Mar 2020

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether content on domestic abuse will be included in the new Relationships education, relationships and sex curriculum.

Answered by Nick Gibb

The Department wants to support all children and young people to be happy, healthy and safe. Through the new subjects of relationships, sex and health education, we want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society.

These subjects will help in ensuring all young people, at age appropriate points, know the signs of unhealthy or abusive relationships, and that violence in relationships and domestic abuse is unlawful and never acceptable. Throughout these subjects there is a focus on ensuring pupils know how to get further support.

The guidance can be accessed via the following link:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/relationships-and-sex-education-and-health-education.


Written Question
Teachers: Training
26 Apr 2018

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reasons his Department does not offer a subject knowledge enhancement grant to people training as religious education teachers; and if he will take steps to offer such grants for people wishing to train as teachers in that subject.

Answered by Nick Gibb

Religious Education (RE) is important to the Department and is mandatory in all state funded schools.

Funding for subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) training supports universities and schools in recruiting to initial teacher training places in priority subjects. Although funding for SKE does not extend to RE, the Department has protected the bursaries for trainees in RE this year, in recognition of the recruitment challenges faced. Funding is also being continued for schools offering School Direct (salaried) places in RE. Teacher supply modelling, and the financial incentives that support teacher training, are reviewed on an annual basis.