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Written Question
Literacy: Coronavirus
Monday 15th March 2021

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the findings of their report Understanding progress in the 2020/21 academic year: Interim findings, published on 24 February, relating to estimated overall learning loss in reading in primary schools; and what powers the new Education Recovery Commissioner will have to direct the use of (1) additional, or (2) reallocated, resources, to literacy.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The ‘Understanding progress in the 2020/21 academic year’ report finds that in reading Year 3-9 pupils are on average around 1.6-2 months behind where we would expect them to be in a ‘normal’ year. For primary pupils, estimates are:

Year Group

Estimated Learning Loss in Reading

Year 3

1.8 months

Year 4

1.8 months

Year 5

1.9 months

Year 6

2.0 months

The Government has invested £1.7 billion to give early years, schools and colleges support to help pupils get back on track, including additional funding for tutoring, early language support and summer schools.

We have also appointed an Education Recovery Commissioner to advise on this work. The objectives of the Education Recovery Commissioner, as outlined in the Terms of Reference, are to advise on the design and implementation of potential interventions that will help pupils catch up learning lost due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Terms of Reference for the Education Recovery Commissioner is published here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/960070/Terms_of_reference.pdf#:~:text=Education%20Recovery%20Commissioner%3A%20role%20specification%20and%20terms%20of,approach%20for%20education%20recovery%2C%20with%20a%20particular%20focus.

We are investing in a national network of English Hubs across the country to improve the teaching of literacy, focusing on Reception and Year One.

In 2018 the Department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme dedicated to improving the teaching of reading. We have since invested a further £17 million in this school-to-school improvement programme, which focuses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure. We have appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs programme is supporting nearly 3000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in Reception and Year 1.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, English Hubs have continued to offer support and training to schools across the country by bringing much of their offer online.


Written Question
Literacy and Numeracy: Coronavirus
Monday 15th March 2021

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what role the new Education Recovery Commissioner will play in helping to close the attainment gap in reading and maths between pupils in schools with high levels of disadvantage and those in schools in more affluent areas.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The objectives of the Education Recovery Commissioner, as outlined in the Terms of Reference, are to advise on the design and implementation of potential interventions that will help pupils to catch up on lost education due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Terms of Reference for the Education Recovery Commissioner are published here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/960070/Terms_of_reference.pdf#:~:text=Education%20Recovery%20Commissioner%3A%20role%20specification%20and%20terms%20of,approach%20for%20education%20recovery%2C%20with%20a%20particular%20focus.

The department will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on pupils and their catch-up needs to help target support across the system effectively.

Maths
Our national network of 40 school-led Maths Hubs aims to help local schools improve the quality of their mathematics teaching based on best practice. The Maths Hubs programme aims to improve attainment gaps, which may be associated with disadvantage, gender, or other factors, and the programme’s capacity has been substantially expanded in the geographical areas where it is needed most.

Maths Hubs deliver our £100 million Teaching for Mastery programme, which is focused on depth of understanding, and is characterised by whole-class teaching where pupils work on the same content together ensuring no one gets left behind. It encourages all pupils with the belief that by working hard at mathematics they can succeed and rejects the idea that some pupils “can’t do maths”.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, Maths Hubs have continued to offer support and training to schools across the country by bringing much of their offer online. The department has also funded the development of free expert resources to support maths teaching, including a range of materials now available from the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Maths, as well publishing new guidance to support curriculum planning and prioritisation in primary schools.

Reading

In 2018, the department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs programme dedicated to improving the teaching of reading, particularly for disadvantaged children. We have since invested a further £17 million in this school-to-school improvement programme, which focuses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure. We have appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs programme is supporting nearly 3000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in Reception and Year 1.

The overall programme is aimed at improving the teaching of early reading across England. In this early delivery stage, we are focusing on systematic synthetic phonics, but our hubs will start to deliver medium-level support in all three priority areas: improving the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics; encouraging early language development; and developing a love of reading. For early language development, hubs will focus on providing evidence-based approaches to early language development and closing the word gap in Year Reception and Year 1, including appropriate use of formative assessment.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, English Hubs have continued to offer support and training to schools across the country by bringing much of their offer online.


Written Question
Bookshops: Coronavirus
Tuesday 1st December 2020

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include bookshops on the lists of businesses permitted to remain open in all areas subject to restrictions to address the COVID-19 pandemic should tiers of restrictions be reintroduced from 2 December.

Answered by Lord Callanan - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

The current restrictions will expire on 2 December, and our intention is to return to?a system of?local and regional restrictions.?We will set out what this means for retailers and other businesses as soon as possible.


Written Question
Literacy
Tuesday 1st December 2020

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by the Prime Minister on 4 November (HC Deb, col 318), whether literacy is intended to be a part of the tutoring programme; and if so, (1) what plans they have to survey literacy levels across all age groups, (2) whether the tutoring will be available to all schools across England, and (3) what steps they are taking to ensure that adequate funding is available for that programme.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

We are providing £1 billion of catch-up support to schools to help make up for lost learning. All schools with pupils aged 5-16 are receiving their share of the £650 million catch-up premium, which can be used to prioritise support for all pupils. We are spending up to £350 million on the National Tutoring Programme (NTP). The NTP will provide additional, targeted support to disadvantaged children and young people in schools across England who need the most help to catch-up.

The NTP for 5-16 years olds went live on 2 November. The NTP offers tuition support for a range of curriculum subjects, including English, at both primary and secondary level. It is important that decisions about what support pupils receive are made locally by those who understand their needs. As such, teachers use their professional judgement to determine which pupils would most benefit from NTP support based on their need. Further information about the launch of the NTP is available here: https://nationaltutoring.org.uk/news/national-tutoring-programme-launches-in-schools.

Additionally, the NTP is supporting an oral language programme for reception-aged children. Any state-funded school with a reception class was able to register their interest in delivering the programme, with priority given to those schools with the highest levels of disadvantage (percentage of free school meals). Participating schools will begin delivery in January 2021. Further information about the oral language programme is available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/neli/.

We are also making funding available to school sixth forms, colleges, and all other 16-19 providers to offer support small group tuition for lower attaining 16-19 year olds, in English, maths, and other courses where learning has been disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Further information about this is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/16-to-19-funding-16-to-19-tuition-fund.


Written Question
Literacy
Thursday 24th September 2020

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Education Endowment Foundation’s publication Improving Literacy in Key Stage 1, published on 30 September 2016; and what additional funding they plan to provide to schools to improve literacy, including for (1) the accurate assessment of the capabilities and difficulties children have in literacy, and (2) for one-to-one tutoring for those in greatest need returning to school after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The Education Endowment Foundation’s publication emphasises the importance of systematic phonics approaches in reading and writing activities with pupils in key stage 1. There is sound evidence that systematic phonics is a highly effective method for teaching early reading. The evidence indicates that the teaching of phonics is most effective when combined with a language rich curriculum to develop children’s positive attitudes towards literacy. The National Curriculum for English places a renewed focus on the requirement for pupils to learn to read through systematic phonics, applying phonic knowledge and skills to word reading.

In 2018 the department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme. The department appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs Programme is supporting nearly 3,000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in reception and year 1. The Education Endowment Foundation’s publication has been used widely across the English Hub community.

The government has announced a catch up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. Our expectation is that this funding will be spent on the additional activities required to support children and young people to catch up after a period of disruption to their education.

The package also includes the National Tutoring Programme which provides up to £350 million to support disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils. This will increase access to subsidised, high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackling the attainment gap between them and their peers.

To support settings to make best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation have published a COVID-19 support guide which includes evidence-based approaches to catch up for all students. Details can be found here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/.


Written Question
Audiobooks: VAT
Wednesday 22nd July 2020

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the National Literacy Trust Children, young people and audiobooks before and during lockdown, published in June, and its finding that listening to audiobooks can increase children's reading skills and emotional intelligence and wellbeing; and, in the light of these findings, what consideration they have given to exempting audio books from VAT.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

An extension of the zero rate of VAT has been introduced in order to provide consistency in approach between certain physical and digital publications.

Audiobooks are already taxed consistently at the standard rate in both physical and digital format.

There are no current plans to extend the VAT zero rate to audiobooks. However, the Government keeps all taxes under review, including VAT.


Written Question
Cancer: Health Services
Wednesday 5th February 2020

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) efficacy of, and (2) access to, treatment to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors, in particular those measures which combat long-term physical or psychological symptoms arising from cancer treatments.

Answered by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford

Work is being undertaken to develop a world-leading quality-of-life metric, with pilot tests being carried out in four Cancer Alliances. For the first time, this will allow us to assess the quality of survival alongside survival rates, so that we can identify where additional support is needed.


Written Question
Public Houses: Non-domestic Rates
Monday 22nd October 2018

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the business rates pub relief scheme on the viability of community pubs in England; and what has been the cost of the scheme to date.

Answered by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has not made an assessment of the impact of the business rates pub relief scheme on the viability of community pubs in England. The Ministry will publish data on the amount of relief granted under the pubs relief scheme for 2017/18 as part of its scheduled Nation Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR) statistical release due in November.


Written Question
Bookshops: Non-domestic Rates
Monday 22nd October 2018

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of recent increases in business rates on the sustainability of local high street bookshops in England.

Answered by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has not made an assessment of the impact of the revaluation on bookshops. The Government has introduced a range of business rates reforms and measures to support businesses, including bookshops, worth over £10 billion by 2023.

This includes, from April 2017, permanently doubling Small Business Rate Relief and raising the threshold for relief meaning that over 600,000 small businesses now pay no business rates at all, and helping all business by switching the measure of inflation, used for the indexation of rates, from Retail Price Index to Consumer Price Index.


Written Question
Digital Technology: Adult Education
Wednesday 15th November 2017

Asked by: Baroness Rebuck (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support UNESCO’s work in discovering what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate a digitally-mediated society; and what actions they plan to take in the UK to explore and fund effective adult literacy policies and programmes which leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

We welcome the work that UNESCO is doing on digital literacy to highlight some of the challenges and opportunities that the digital world presents.

The Government supports adults in England to develop the basic English and digital expertise they need for employment and everyday life. We provide funding for adults to access a range of literacy training up to English GCSE and equivalent qualifications, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.

Provisional Further Education and Skills data shows that in 2016/17 the Government funded the participation of 536,700 adults in English courses and 114,400 adults in ESOL courses. We are also introducing a similar right to funding for specified Information and Communication Technology courses.