Mary Kelly Foy contributions to the Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill 2019-21

Wed 14th October 2020 Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: House of Commons
7 interactions (570 words)

Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill

(Committee Debate: House of Commons)
Mary Kelly Foy Excerpts
Wednesday 14th October 2020

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Public Bill Committees

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Bill Main Page
Department for Education

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clause 2 stand part.

Clause 3 stand part.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham) (Lab)
- Hansard - -

14 Oct 2020, 12:01 a.m.

I look forward to serving under your chairship, Ms Cummins, and I am very grateful to every Member who has agreed to be part of this Committee. I appreciate people’s willingness to give up their time, especially given the important debates taking place in the Chamber at the minute.

While the Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill might not make the front pages, it is a very important piece of legislation. There is a flaw in the way young people are safeguarded in education: while every child is protected by safeguarding duties, they are not all protected in the same way. That is clearly wrong.

The Committee has the opportunity today to enact the sort of cross-party work that is sometimes needed in Parliament. A clear problem has been identified and a sensible solution provided. Together, we can work to correct a mistake and help to improve the education system by keeping young people safe and giving parents the peace of mind they deserve.

Although technical, the Bill is relatively simple. All providers of post-16 education have safeguarding requirements. Further education colleges, sixth forms and schools have a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of every child at that institution. However, while 16-to-19 academies, special post-16 institutions and independent learning providers have safeguarding duties as a condition of funding, young people who attend those institutions are not protected in the same way that they would be at a school or further education college. That was clearly an unintentional oversight and it must therefore be amended.

The Bill has two substantive clauses and it will amend the Education Act 2002 and the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009. It will impose direct safeguarding duties upon 16-to-19 academies and also place an obligation upon the Secretary of State for Education to ensure that compliance with the safeguarding duties is a condition of funding for special post-16 institutions and independent learning providers.

As all providers have safeguarding responsibilities, there should be no extra cost for providers. Instead, the 100 16-to-19 academies and 1,000 independent providers brought into scope by the Bill will benefit from a simplified safeguarding system with greater alignment of duties. The Bill therefore works for education providers, as well as parents and young people.

I want to stress just how necessary the Bill is. It will only become more important as we see the roll-out of T-levels and continued academisation. No matter what our disagreements on how education should be delivered, we can all agree that every young person should be protected in the same way, no matter which organisation delivers the education. That is why it is so important that this anomaly is corrected. By law, providers have safeguarding responsibilities and the vast majority will follow best practice. I believe we need a guarantee of that in law. I hope the Committee will support me in closing the loophole to ensure that every young person is kept safe in education.

Kate Osborne Portrait Kate Osborne (Jarrow) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

14 Oct 2020, midnight

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for the first time, Ms Cummins, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham on promoting this private Member’s Bill.

The flaws in the way young people are safeguarded in education and the disparities in the system need to be addressed and corrected. It is right and absolutely necessary that apprenticeships training providers meet the minimum standards that already exist for schools, further education colleges and sixth form colleges. Every child and young person needs to be protected, and the Bill helps to do just that.

Break in Debate

Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

14 Oct 2020, 2:18 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes a very good point. The “Keeping Children Safe in Education” guidance sets out the type of consideration that providers need to show and goes into a great deal of information about special educational needs and disability. The Bill extends safeguarding duties that already apply to schools and colleges, including special schools and colleges of special educational needs, to new settings. The welfare and needs of the child are at the centre of that.

I am sure that all hon. Members wish to join me in thanking the providers of post-16 education up and down the country who work every day to protect our children. It is vital that parents and students have confidence that their education provider is doing all that they can, and should, to provide a safe, supportive learning environment that protects those students from harm. Providers must clearly understand what is expected of them, and having all the information in one place enables providers to get the help that they need quickly. That is why I strongly believe that the Bill will deliver consistency and simplicity to our diverse further education sector.

I thank all Members present today for their openness and constructive comments. I am confident from our discussions that we have the right foundations on which to progress the Bill. I am grateful to all Members present for taking the time to attend and contribute to this important debate. I pass on my gratitude in particular to the hon. Member for City of Durham for bringing this important issue to light and ensuring that the Bill will be enacted. I thank her very much for her support, and I commend the Bill to the Committee.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy
- Hansard - -

14 Oct 2020, 2:19 p.m.

I thank everyone for serving on the Committee, especially given the added challenges of covid. With that in mind, I thank the Clerks, the Chair and every civil servant who has assisted in the preparation of the Bill and the delivery of the Committee stage. The return to physical proceedings has caused incredible damage to the staff who keep this place running, and I am genuinely grateful for everything that they do. I am sure that my colleagues share that sentiment.

Hear, hear!

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill to be reported, without amendment.