Mary Kelly Foy debates with Department for Education

There have been 6 exchanges between Mary Kelly Foy and Department for Education

Wed 6th January 2021 Covid-19: Educational Settings 3 interactions (76 words)
Wed 21st October 2020 Free School Meals 3 interactions (481 words)
Wed 14th October 2020 Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill (Public Bill Committees) 5 interactions (570 words)
Thu 2nd July 2020 Education Settings: Autumn Opening 3 interactions (90 words)
Wed 13th May 2020 Covid-19: School Reopening 3 interactions (115 words)
Fri 13th March 2020 Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill 11 interactions (1,322 words)

Covid-19: Educational Settings

Mary Kelly Foy Excerpts
Wednesday 6th January 2021

(1 week, 4 days ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Education
Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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We have already set out really detailed guidance for all schools, setting the expectation levels for all schools and what they provide to pupils. We recognise that there will be a blend in the range of different teaching, but we have set clear expectations and if schools fall below them, parents can take recourse either with the school directly or ultimately through Ofsted.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham) (Lab) [V]
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As students have been advised not to return to university for the foreseeable future, most will be left paying for accommodation that they cannot use. It is clearly unfair that students renting private accommodation will be left thousands of pounds out of pocket, and the Government’s miserly £20 million contribution to the university hardship fund obviously is not enough. Does the Education Secretary agree that the Government have a responsibility to refund students their accommodation costs?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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As I have already set out, before Christmas the Government recognised the need to give additional support to students, through the universities. That is why we put the additional financial arrangements in place to support them.

Free School Meals

Mary Kelly Foy Excerpts
Wednesday 21st October 2020

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Education
Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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Well, there we are. I call Mary Kelly Foy.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham) (Lab)
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As someone who personally benefited from free school meals as a child, I congratulate Marcus Rashford on his vital and selfless campaign. Between him and Andy Burnham, I do not think the Prime Minister will be setting foot in Manchester any time soon.

In a previous debate, I said that the Government’s initial U-turn on free school meals was a case of them having to be embarrassed into feeding hungry children. Well, it looks like the Conservatives have moved beyond that. They truly have no shame. What astounds me most about this Government’s approach is the complete lack of responsibility. They are acting like child poverty is purely the fault of the parents and ignoring the leading cause of child poverty: Tory Governments.

It is a fact that this Government have increased poverty. Before this pandemic, their own Social Mobility Commission stated that there are 600,000 more children living in poverty in 2020 than there were in 2012. They cannot blame Labour for that. And let us not ignore the reality that holiday hunger hits the north-east the hardest. Not only does the region have the highest proportion of children in receipt of free school meals, but that number is rising at a faster rate than anywhere else. So much for levelling up.

The coronavirus pandemic and the Government’s incompetent handling of it will only make this crisis worse. Thousands of people will be experiencing poverty for the first time, through absolutely no fault of their own, yet the Government are going to deny them this small bit of help. Even if we ignore the argument that this Government have increased poverty over the last decade, it still does not change the fact that children do not choose to be born into poverty and they do not choose to go hungry during the holidays. Poverty is never the child’s fault. To punish them is as cruel as it is illogical.

The Government believe that it is right to feed these children when they are at school, so why not during the holidays? Poverty does not stop at the end of term. Are the Government planning to let impoverished children go hungry in order to teach them some sort of perverse lesson—to show them the realities of sink-or-swim Conservatism? If, as some Members claim, it is a question of not being able to afford to fund these £15-a-week lunches, I am sure we can make savings somewhere else, such as by cutting some of the £7,000 a day that consultants are being paid for working on the failing track and trace system. Personally, I would rather put food into the stomach of a hungry child than money into the pockets of wealthy consultants.

No matter how they try to justify it, if Government Members oppose the motion, they will be voting to let children go hungry, for no other reason than that they just do not care.

Tahir Ali Portrait Tahir Ali (Birmingham, Hall Green) (Lab)
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Over the last decade, we have seen a shocking increase in poverty levels in the UK. In particular, child poverty has risen significantly and should be seen in no uncertain terms as a national crisis. The causes of this increase in poverty are clear: a decade of damaging policies implemented by Conservative Governments who have taken income away from the poorest in our society and redistributed wealth upwards, making the rich even richer.

The scourge of child poverty is a disgrace to a society as rich as ours. In my constituency alone, 15,335 children live in poverty, and many of those children depend on free school meals so that they can go to school and receive the education they deserve. Across Birmingham, the number of pupils who rely on free school meals is higher than in many parts of the country, and that is due in no small part to the shocking levels of poverty that many families currently find themselves in. It is obvious that such poverty and the subsequent support needed by those families does not come to an end when the school term ends.

These measures are essential to families in my constituency who are facing the full force of lost income due to the pandemic and the resultant recession. I have received a great many messages from constituents urging action on free school meals. I, along with my constituents, believe that extending free school meals over the school holidays for the period stated in the motion is the very least this Government can do to assist families in need.

More needs to be done to ensure that no child in my constituency or the country at large goes to school hungry. I want to take this opportunity to raise the recommendations made by School Food Matters, the Food Foundation and many others regarding free school meals. I believe it is necessary to extend free school meals for all children in families receiving universal credit and to extend the holiday activity and food programme to all areas in England, to ensure that summer holiday support is available to all children receiving free school meals. The Healthy Start vouchers also need to be increased.

Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill

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

(3 months ago)

Public Bill Committees

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Department for Education
Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham) (Lab)
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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)
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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
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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
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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.

Education Settings: Autumn Opening

Mary Kelly Foy Excerpts
Thursday 2nd July 2020

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Education
Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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2 Jul 2020, 12:19 p.m.

My hon. Friend, in his many conversations with me, has been a great champion of his schools and what is happening in his constituency. He is right about the importance of making sure that this money is properly targeted at the children who most need it. That is why £350 million of it has been ring-fenced for the most disadvantaged, and his constituency will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of that.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham) (Lab)
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2 Jul 2020, 12:20 p.m.

In my constituency, Durham University is a major player and it contributes massively to the local economy, the culture of our city and the community. So far during this crisis, the lack of Government support for universities has been scandalous, quite frankly. Universities, the staff who work for them and current and future students need to know that higher education is valued by this Government and will be protected by them. What financial aid will the Government be offering universities like Durham so that they can survive the coronavirus pandemic?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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2 Jul 2020, 12:21 p.m.

We continue to work very closely with the higher education sector. We recognise the important role that it has in many communities, including the city of Durham. A number of weeks ago, we announced a stabilisation package. We have also set up a taskforce on research funding with the university sector, the Treasury, the devolved Administrations, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for Education. We continue to work closely with the sector to make sure that there is stability within it but it also has the ability to recover and thrive in the future.

Covid-19: School Reopening

Mary Kelly Foy Excerpts
Wednesday 13th May 2020

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Education
Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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13 May 2020, 12:01 a.m.

I very much join my hon. Friend in thanking those teachers and support staff who have done so much to keep schools open all the way through this period. It is important to remember that schools have remained open all the through the coronavirus pandemic.

My hon. Friend makes an important point about testing. We already have priority testing for all teachers and those who work in schools, if they have symptoms of coronavirus. That priority testing will be extended to all children who attend school if they are displaying symptoms, as well as to their families. We recognise how important test and trace is in beating this pandemic.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham) (Lab) (V)
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13 May 2020, 12:02 a.m.

First, my thanks to all the school staff in the City of Durham and across the country for their dedication throughout the pandemic. Education unions are clear: there can be no compromise on health and safety. The proposals are ill thought out and reckless. At best, they will create a sterile learning environment for young children, who will not understand why they are unable to interact with their friends. At worst, the proposals will set off a chain of new infections going back into the households of working people. How can it be right that without any scientific evidence, school staff and pupils have to accept lower safety standards than we expect queuing at Tesco?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
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13 May 2020, 12:03 a.m.

The only consideration behind this decision is what is in the best interests and for the welfare of children and those who work in schools. We all recognise the importance of children being able to return to schools. Sometimes, scaremongering—making people fear—is unfair and an unwelcome pressure on families, children and teachers alike.

Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill

Mary Kelly Foy Excerpts
Friday 13th March 2020

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Education
Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham) (Lab)
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13 Mar 2020, 1:25 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

All children, no matter what their background or which education and training provider they choose, deserve a safe environment in which they can learn. I am sure that every Member of this House can agree that nothing is more important than safeguarding our children and promoting their welfare. The Bill would ensure that all young people were protected by the same safeguarding, whichever education or training provider they chose.

I am proud to have the outstanding New College Durham in my constituency, which is one of the best further education colleges in the country. I will take a moment to highlight its continued success in the field of technology. It is one of few institutes of technology in the country and we can all congratulate it on that. Like all further education colleges, it has a legal duty to ensure that the education and training it delivers protects its students. It also has a legal duty to consider any guidance issued by the Secretary of State. The college is doing an excellent job of promoting students’ welfare and I am sure that it will continue to do so.

Rachel Hopkins Portrait Rachel Hopkins (Luton South) (Lab)
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13 Mar 2020, 1:25 p.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on introducing such an important and considered Bill and I am pleased to co-sponsor it. As a governor of Luton Sixth Form College, I know how crucial the extension of statutory safeguarding arrangements is to ensure that all young people in further education get the best in life. Does she agree that, given the increasing level of mental health issues among our young people, it is important that all those in post-16 education are protected by equitable safeguarding protocols to ensure they receive support and have the best possible chance of succeeding in their studies and training?

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy
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13 Mar 2020, 1:27 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for making an important point. I know from a recent visit to New College that it takes the mental health of its students very seriously indeed. However, not all young people in my constituency pursue further education through New College. Others choose to do an apprenticeship delivered by a training provider. In the last academic year, 50 students under the age of 19 started an apprenticeship in my constituency. Those apprentices could be training for a career in health and social care, supported by Northern Care Training, an independent provider. They could also be working towards a career as a plumber with South West Durham Training, another independent provider. I was concerned to find out that legal safeguarding duties do not apply to apprentices when their training is delivered by independent providers in the same way as they do for those at an FE college such as New College. While safeguarding requirements are a condition of independent providers’ funding, those providers’ apprentices are not protected by the law in the same way. That is clearly wrong and something must be done about it. It is vital to protect the welfare of our constituents and that is why it is so important that the Bill passes.

Rob Butler Portrait Rob Butler (Aylesbury) (Con)
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13 Mar 2020, 1:28 p.m.

I congratulate the hon. Lady on bringing the Bill to the House. On a related point, does she agree that the inclusion in the Bill of T-level providers underlines the importance of that option in education and that they should be considered of equal merit to more academic qualifications?

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy
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13 Mar 2020, 1:29 p.m.

I agree. T-levels are an extremely important part of our education system. They will be rolled out a lot more in the coming years. In fact, I was about to cover T-levels in the next part of my speech; the hon. Member read my mind.

As New College Durham will be one of the first colleges to provide T-levels from September, this is of vital importance to my constituents—I am sure it is to the hon. Member’s constituents, too, and to those all over the country. However, the legal safeguarding duty that protects T-level students will vary, depending on the provider that the student chooses. As MPs, we have a duty to ensure that safeguarding laws apply to all children equally. That is not currently the case. I ask hon. Members for their support to help me to fix this loophole in the law.

My Bill would correct the existing inconsistencies in safeguarding arrangements by extending the legal duty to cover all publicly funded providers of post-16 education. This will directly impose legal safeguarding on 16-to-19 academies, and make the Secretary of State for Education directly accountable for ensuring that all funding agreements with specialist post-16 institutions and independent providers include proper safeguarding duties. The Secretary of State will also be directly responsible for ensuring that funding agreements with apprenticeship and T-level providers include safeguarding duties. This is especially important, because there will be 113 new T-level providers over the next two years, but this expansion can only happen safely if the right safeguarding duties are in place.

These issues are not party political. Across England, the Bill will place safeguarding duties on an estimated 30 16-to-19 academies, 100 specialist post-16 providers and 1,000 independent providers. The Bill will help to ensure that all young people have the same safeguards and protections under the law.

James Daly Portrait James Daly (Bury North) (Con)
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13 Mar 2020, 1:31 p.m.

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her excellent Bill, which I am sure my colleagues fully support. I am passionate about ensuring equality of opportunity after the age of 16, as well as before. Children with special educational needs or on the autistic spectrum do not stop having safeguarding issues at the age of 16. Does she agree that these proposals are excellent for equalising opportunity and ensuring that support is in place for further education, so that everybody has the chance to succeed?

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy
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13 Mar 2020, 1:31 p.m.

I totally agree, and that is one of the reasons that this Bill is so important. There are likely to be more children and young people—some who are the most vulnerable in our society—who do not go down the academic route, but pursue the new T-levels in some of our colleges. The hon. Member has made a really important point, and it is why we really need to pass the Bill.

My Bill will ensure that all young people have the same safeguards and protections under the law, regardless of which education or training provider they choose. I believe that safeguarding responsibilities are too important not to be protected by the law, and I hope that the House will join me in safeguarding our young people and giving parents the peace of mind that they deserve.

Neil O'Brien Portrait Neil O’Brien (Harborough) (Con)
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13 Mar 2020, 1:32 p.m.

I congratulate the hon. Member for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy) on proposing to close an important loophole that she has identified. I enjoyed her speech and her warm words about an important institution in her constituency; Durham is an important city of learning at all kinds of different levels.

I also welcome the new Minister to her place. There is a nice irony here, because the Minister is living proof of the importance of technical and vocational routes. She is proof that people can get to the highest jobs in the country without having been to university at the age of 18; she has done it through work. She is the perfect person to take through this legislation, which I believe is her first Bill. On a day in which we have discussed levelling up, it is nice to see the Minister for levelling up on the Front Bench—just to wind up Opposition Members even more.

The hon. Member for City of Durham has identified an important anomaly, which we will hopefully end today by extending the duty to make safeguarding provisions to all providers of publicly funded post-16 education. The Bill brings 16-to-19 academies, specialist post-16 institutions and independent learning providers into the scope of the statutory guidance. Currently, 16-to-19 academies are not legally classified as schools or colleges, and are therefore falling down a gap and not being captured by the statutory safeguarding duties in section 175 of the Education Act 2002. About 20 sixth-form colleges have already converted to become academies, and that number is likely to rise. Members will recall that one reason this is happening is as a solution to the problem that sixth-form colleges face VAT while, of course, schools do not.

There are all kinds of reasons why we should want more 16-19 academies. It is important that we improve the legal framework in which they operate, because we want more of them. Sixth-form colleges are our most efficient type of school. They achieve the highest results for their age group, even though they do not benefit from the £1 billion cross-subsidy that school sixth forms get. It is clear why they are so effective: having 30 pupils in an A-level class is clearly more efficient than having only two or three.

Colleges and sixth-form colleges currently pay VAT, so in a sense they are being discriminated against. The Sixth Form Colleges Association estimates that the average sixth-form college pays around £300,000 a year in VAT. It is therefore very good for them to become academies, which in turn encourages them to work more closely in federation with local schools. However, we cannot allow the growing number of 16-19 academies to fall outside the crucial safeguarding framework for young people.

Although the Bill will close one anomaly, it is not the only one that has grown up around 16-19 academies. Last year, the hon. Member for Harrow West (Gareth Thomas) led a Westminster Hall debate on religious protections for Catholic sixth-form colleges that want to academise. The director of the Catholic Education Service, Paul Barber, has said that

“because academisation legislation for Sixth Form Colleges was developed separately from schools, the same safeguards given to schools were omitted for Catholic Sixth Form Colleges”.

I hope that the Minister will move to close that similar lacuna.

Catholic sixth-form colleges say that they are currently prevented from converting to academies because their religious character, which is protected under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, would not be maintained under current Government rules. They suggest that they would lose protections in areas of the curriculum, acts of worship and governance. I hope that anomaly will also be closed.

I must declare an interest, because I benefited hugely from attending a sixth-form college, Greenhead College, which I suspect is already thinking about converting to a 16-19 academy. I can say with certainty that I would not be standing in the House today were it not for that wonderful, life-changing institution. It sounds like New College Durham in that it is offering similarly transformational opportunities to young people in Huddersfield, a town that is very close to the national average but has this wonderful institution that is giving young people opportunities to achieve all kinds of wonderful things in life.

Sixth-form colleges are hugely important institutions that are achieving brilliant results, despite being less well funded than other parts of the education sector. Today we are normalising them further by extending to them the important safeguarding provisions set out in legislation, closing a lacuna that nobody intended to be there in the first place. I benefited from wonderful pastoral care during my time at sixth-form college. Many of these institutions are naturally doing the right thing, but it is essential that we have certainty about the law and about the guidance. I congratulate the hon. Member for City of Durham again on bringing forward a Bill that I hope will proceed in short order today.

Break in Debate

Gillian Keegan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Gillian Keegan)
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13 Mar 2020, 1:54 p.m.

I thank the hon. Member for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy) for introducing this important Bill. This is a subject that clearly many of us feel passionately about, particularly the need to safeguard children from many types of harm, including online harm and harm that affects their mental health, such as bullying. I know she has a long-standing interest in this area, and in particular in people’s health and wellbeing.

I thank all hon. Members for their contributions to today’s debate. Safeguarding of children is one issue that I think all Members agree is extremely important. The Government take it very seriously, which is why we support the Bill. Young people, especially those in their mid to late teens, can be particularly vulnerable. They are in that transitional phase—they are growing up and starting to become more independent, but they are still children in many ways. I am sure many hon. Members will recognise that from their own experience, while others may still have the joy of teenagers to come. It is a difficult time in a young person’s life, and the education landscape is suddenly becoming a lot more complex, with many more different options and important choices to make, which will have an impact on their lives and careers.

The Bill has been described as a technical change to place all Government-funded post-16 providers of education and training on the same statutory footing. As many hon. Members have highlighted, that is important. Whether studying A-levels, T-levels, an apprenticeship or other qualifications in a school, college, sixth-form college, 16-to-19 academy, specialist post-16 institute or independent learning provider, it is important that students are safe and that the institution they are in has responsibility for their safeguarding.

Such institutions do have responsibility for safeguarding today, but rather than being buried in contract conditions or other conditions such as Ofsted requirements, having a single statutory guidance note will make it clear and transparent to all what is expected. That is important for parents, students, providers and bodies such as Ofsted. Parents and students in particular should be reassured by the underlying principle of “Keeping Children Safe in Education”. All practitioners must ensure that their approach is child-centred. It means that they should consider at all times what is in the best interests of the child. Safeguarding covers all forms of harm. It covers abuse, whether mental, physical, sexual or online. It covers bullying in all forms. It covers child exploitation, county lines, female genital mutilation and neglect. The “Keeping Children Safe in Education” guidance covers all those areas and more, not only in terms of what providers need to do, but, critically, where extra advice and help can be found. Having one single approach to safeguarding will, I believe, help all providers to know their obligations and where they can get advice to help them to safeguard children.

This debate has shown how strongly we feel about the need to safeguard children. In the interests of time I will not cover all the issues raised, but I would like to reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Neil O'Brien), who raised the academisation of faith schools. It is our ultimate ambition that every school that wants it should have the opportunity to benefit from the autonomy and freedom that academy status can provide. Going forward, we will continue to look for a suitable opportunity to address this issue and level up the playing field.

I want to make three clear points. First, every provider already has some form of requirement on safeguarding. In simplifying the landscape, I agree that the Bill will not place any additional costs or administrative burdens on providers. In fact, it may help them, because it will make it simpler and clearer to understand. Secondly, I feel strongly that the provisions will result in a levelling up of safeguarding, making it clearer for all concerned, whether they are a parent, student or a provider, and ensuring that the guidance remains relevant and up to date in a timely manner. Finally, the Bill will result in the need to amend the statutory guidance note “Keeping Children Safe in Education”. We will consult openly and widely with the sector to ensure that the guidance is both appropriate and proportionate.

In closing, I reiterate my thanks to the hon. Member for City of Durham for bringing the Bill before the House. I congratulate her, as a new Member, on driving forward these important proposals so early in her career. I am sure we will hear a lot more from her. I look forward to visiting the outstanding New College Durham. I thank her again and confirm that the Government will support the Bill.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy
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13 Mar 2020, 1:54 p.m.

With the leave of the House, I would like to make some final remarks. I thank every Member who contributed to the debate: the Under-Secretary of State for Education, the hon. Member for Chichester (Gillian Keegan), the hon. Members for West Bromwich West (Shaun Bailey), for Dudley South (Mike Wood) and for Harborough (Neil O'Brien), my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon North (Steve Reed) and the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Laura Trott) who made speeches, and my hon. Friend the Member for Luton South (Rachel Hopkins) and the hon. Member for Bury North (James Daly) who made interventions. In particular, I thank them for raising the importance of the Bill for the most vulnerable young people in our society and for highlighting those who might be suffering from abuse or mental health issues or have special educational needs. That is one of the main reasons the Bill is so important. We may sometimes disagree on a few issues, but on this one it seems that we are all in agreement.

The purpose of my Bill is simple. I believe that every child should be protected by the same safeguarding legislation. My Bill would address an anomaly in the current legislation and bring all training and education providers that receive Government funding under the same legislation. I think we can all agree that every young person in education should have the same protections. Apprenticeships form a key part of further education. In the coming months, we will see the roll-out of T-levels. Technical qualifications are extremely important. While my constituency is very lucky to be the home of one of the best universities in the country, academia is not a path for everyone. When done well, technical qualifications offer young people a different option—one that provides both an education and a path to work. The expansion of the further education and training sector must be accompanied by steps to ensure that the welfare of young people is fully protected. Under current legislation, that cannot be guaranteed, and it is our duty as MPs to correct this.

Until this safeguarding oversight is corrected, some parents will not be able to send their children to study with peace of mind. Young people pursue further education to learn and gain employment. Everyone in the House wants to see young people in education and then in work. The young people who currently fall into this loophole are doing their best to prepare themselves for the world of work and to contribute to the economy, and they should be supported in this. The least we can do is make sure they are properly protected. In this matter, we can set aside party politics and put the welfare of our young people first.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time, to stand committed to a Public Bill Committee (Standing Order No. 63).