Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete in Education Settings

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 4th September 2023

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady needs to know that the Labour party was also warned about this issue in 1999, 2002 and 2007, and what did it do? Nothing—not a single survey. Yesterday, the shadow Secretary of State dismissed concerns about RAAC in Wales, because the Government there were following Labour policies. As soon as a school collapsed in 2018, we issued a warning to all responsible bodies that they were the ones that were responsible. We also issued guidance on how to identify RAAC, and, in answer to the hon. Lady’s question, instructed them to use structural engineers to do that. We also thought that we needed to go further, which is why we are probably the only country in the world that has a good understanding of where RAAC is in all our schools.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
- Hansard - -

Obviously, this is a very serious issue, but when I talked to the chief executive of a large, multi-academy trust at the end of last week and over the weekend, he said that the Government had absolutely made the right decision in the guidance that they had given. As we have heard, we are particularly affected in Essex—about half the schools are in Essex. Indeed, Madam Deputy Speaker, I believe that you are very concerned about six schools in your own constituency. While we are working through those, one issue that has been raised with me is that of ongoing funding. I know that the Secretary of State has already addressed this, but can she again confirm from the Dispatch Box that any additional revenue costs—reasonable revenue costs—will be met so that budgetary concerns will not be a barrier to delivering face-to-face education that our children so richly deserve?

Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am glad that my hon. Friend used the word “reasonable”, because the reason we have asked for the revenue to come on an individual basis is that they will all differ. Obviously, we need to ensure that it is reasonable, and that it is put in place. We will certainly support any school with additional funding as is required. Due to the fact that, as he mentioned, almost half the cases are in Essex, it probably warrants setting up a working group with the Essex MPs, so that we can work through them in great detail.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 17th April 2023

(12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
- Hansard - -

13. What steps her Department is taking to promote lifelong learning.

Gillian Keegan Portrait The Secretary of State for Education (Gillian Keegan)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The lifelong loan entitlement will ensure everyone has access to opportunities to upskill and reskill to progress in their careers. We have led a huge raft of reforms to the skills system since 2016 to deliver on this ambition, building on the reviews led by Professor Alison Wolf, Lord Sainsbury, Sir Philip Augar and others. Over this time, we have worked with over 5,000 employers to deliver apprenticeships, backed by the landmark £2.7 billion apprenticeship levy. The £3.8 billion we are investing over this Parliament will support more people to benefit from apprenticeships, skills bootcamps, T-levels, free courses for jobs and new returnerships, and will deliver our flagship institutes of technology.

Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend, and I agree with him that there should be a clear pathway. That is why level 3 courses are fully funded for a range of individuals through funding streams such as free courses for jobs, the adult education budget and advanced learner loans. The adult education budget allows eligible adult learners aged 19 to 23 undertaking their first full level 3 course to be fully funded, and free courses for jobs gives eligible adults the chance to access high-value level 3 courses—423 of them—for free. The Government aim to support learners building up or stacking up LLE-funded modules on pathways to full qualifications across their working lives.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
- Hansard - -

Building on that answer and on the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous), will my right hon. Friend tell the House what her ambitions are for lifelong loan entitlements and when they might come into force, so that older potential learners in Basildon and Thurrock can start to reskill for the 21st century?

Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The lifelong loan entitlement will radically transform opportunities for people, including the nurse I met outside my local hospital in Chichester, who retrained having worked for years as a domiciliary. Thousands of people like me who look for a change of career later in life have used the apprenticeship system, but now all providers registered with the Office for Students will have the opportunity to deliver LLE-funded courses, which will initially focus on higher technical qualifications, helping to address skills gaps to support learners into jobs where employers have need. The LLE will be introduced from academic year 2025-26.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 24th October 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Kit Malthouse Portrait Kit Malthouse
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the right hon. Member will know, the legislative timetable is under review—or it was, under the previous Prime Minister. We wait for the opinion of the new Prime Minister as to his priorities in the months to come. We will have to wait and see what we has to say.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
- Hansard - -

As I hope the House knows, I am a passionate supporter of the power and creativity of engineering and its ability to address the most serious challenges that we face globally. Will my hon. Friend agree to look at the curriculum for opportunities to improve the teaching and understanding of engineering?

Jonathan Gullis Portrait Jonathan Gullis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend will know that in March 2022 the Department introduced the “engineers teach physics” programme to help recruit high-quality engineers into our workforce. Because of the pilot’s success, the programme has been extended across the country for the 2023-24 recruitment cycle. I am more than happy to see how much more we can do to ensure that science, technology, engineering and maths are driven through the heart of the curriculum, alongside EBacc, which is vital to helping to educate everyone.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 14th March 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I and the rest of the Government continue to encourage a meaningful dialogue, because, at the end of the day, those missing out are students, who have suffered unbelievably during the pandemic and faced challenges. The last thing they need is strikes and further disruption to their face-to-face education.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
- Hansard - -

Equipping young people with the skills of the future is vital not only for green jobs, as we have heard, but for other emerging technologies. However, many such jobs will be underpinned by an understanding and appreciation of engineering. Will my right hon. Friend therefore consider introducing a new design, technology and engineering course as one of the science options?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss that further. I recognise the enormous importance of engineering—and, of course, essential to that is the numeracy skills that underpin it. That is one reason why we are so prioritising numeracy.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 1st November 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the hon. Lady says, the additional £1 billion of investment in recovery is welcome. More importantly, it is also evidence led. We need to ensure that we follow the evidence to the interventions that make the most difference, and that is exactly what we are going to do.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
- Hansard - -

Will my hon. Friend tell the House what work is under way to ensure that the key stage 3 and 4 curriculum is aligned with the jobs of the future, not just the jobs of today?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend raises a hugely important point, and I would be happy to meet him to discuss it. As I read across the enormous breadth of my new brief, I recognise that meeting the challenges of the 21st century through the curriculum is essential.

Coronavirus: Education Setting Attendance and Support for Pupils

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 23rd September 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have heard of TADS on my travels—it is an excellent charity. If she would like to send the details to the Department, I am happy to look into that for her.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
- Hansard - -

We all know that the best place for young people is in school, learning in a classroom. Will my hon. Friend therefore confirm that when the Opposition next make a call for schools to close, he and the Secretary of State will do all they can to resist those siren calls and keep our kids in school?

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Be in no doubt that we want children to be in school and learning in school. It is the best place for them to be for their education, their mental health and their futures. We will do all that we can to keep them where they are.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 6th September 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have increased the high needs budget by a record £2.3 billion, which is over a third over the past three years. We are also making good progress with the special educational needs and disability review, which has inevitably been a bit frustrated by the pandemic and changed the issues we are looking at, but we absolutely want all pupils to have access to the education they deserve. That is why our recovery funding has also been extra tilted towards those in specialist settings.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

T9. As my right hon. Friend knows, maths makes an invaluable contribution to our economy and our way of being, whether that is in computing, encryption, artificial intelligence or even the development of the covid vaccine. The London Mathematical Society has been raising awareness of maths through its “Protect Pure Maths” campaign. Will he tell the House what he is doing to encourage more people to study maths at university and to support the Government’s science, technology, engineering and maths agenda?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have seen a real revolution in maths over the last 10 years, with maths being the most popular subject to take at A-level. This has been supported not just by changes in the curriculum, in terms of how people are learning maths, but by the introduction of new specialist maths schools that are making sure that young people have the opportunity to excel in mathematics, which is so vital.

Covid-19: Impact on Attendance in Education Settings

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 30th June 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

At every stage, the Government have been one of the first to act in order to keep this country safe; this was one of the first countries in Europe to impose travel restrictions on India as a result of the delta variant. The new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Transport Secretary and the Prime Minister take that responsibility incredibly seriously.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s comments. I have recently finished a 10-day period of self-isolation following someone in my office testing positive for covid. However, the flatmate of that person was able to go about their daily life in a normal way, using the Government’s daily testing trial. As we learn to live with covid, surely it is time to move quickly to a more nuanced approach that does not endlessly interrupt children’s education, as it cannot be right to have learning continuously disrupted by unnecessary self-isolation.

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

There is nothing that I can really disagree with my hon. Friend about, so I had better just sit down, hadn’t I?

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 26th April 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Parents and students alike are concerned about the impact the pandemic has had on students’ learning, particularly for those in years 10 and 12, who will face exams next summer. Will my right hon. Friend therefore update the House on what steps he is taking to support those students to ensure that they meet their full potential and get the results they deserve?

Nick Gibb Portrait Nick Gibb
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have invested £1.7 billion to help pupils get back on track, including through tutoring. We will continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic on all students, including those due to take their exams in 2022, to ensure that students in this cohort can receive a fair grade. We have appointed Sir Kevan Collins as recovery commissioner, and he is advising on further measures to ensure that all students catch up on the education that they have lost.

Education: Return in January

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 30th December 2020

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We all recognise that this has been an incredibly challenging year for all students. We have seen the impact on our own children and, of course, on children in our constituencies. As those who have been involved in education recognise, exams are the fairest and best form of assessment. We recognise that this is a unique year that has presented unique challenges. That is why we have taken the unusual and unique steps of ensuring that the generosity of grading is similar to and mirrors that of children who took exams in the previous year, and of taking action to make sure that there is advance notice of the areas that children will be tested on to make sure that they are in the best possible position to succeed and do the best they possibly can in those exams.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - -

I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement and for adopting a pragmatic approach to the changing situation. I also thank all schools locally, many of which have been open and welcoming students throughout the pandemic. If all schools and students are not going to return as expected, however, I am concerned that students, particularly those from less well-off backgrounds, will miss out on their education. Can he confirm what extra support he and the Government will give to move to quality remote learning and maintain it for as long as it is needed?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend will be aware that I want to see all children in schools at all times, if possible. As he highlights, however, there will be certain areas of the country where additional action needs to be taken that will lead to the temporary closure of schools. That has happened across the country all the way through the pandemic, but we will probably see a little more of it over the coming term than we saw in the previous term. That is part of the reason why we made the announcement of the distribution of 1 million laptops to support remote learning in schools, and that is why we have made and continue to make increased investment in the Oak National Academy to support online learning and to make sure that there is a whole suite of lessons for every subject and every year group to support schools. It is an important resource for them to be able teach their children. That support will continue, as well as the covid catch-up fund of £1 billion, which has been made available to schools and colleges.