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Written Question
Apprentices: Taxation
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether children in low-income families are permitted to use funding from the apprenticeship levy to stay on at secondary school.

Answered by Baroness Barran

Apprenticeships are jobs with training that are open to anyone aged 16 and over. The apprenticeship levy was introduced to support employers of all sizes to invest in high-quality apprenticeship training. The department’s annual budget for apprenticeships in England has increased to over £2.7 billion in the 2024/25 financial year. This budget is ringfenced for spend on apprenticeships training and assessment only to meet employer demand for high-quality apprenticeships and cannot be used for other purposes.

To ensure that every child, regardless of their background, can excel at school and achieve their full potential, the department has targeted a greater proportion of the schools national funding formula towards deprived pupils than ever before. In total, 10.2%, over £4.4 billion, of the formula will be allocated according to deprivation factors in the 2024/25 financial year and 17.8%, or £7.8 billion, will be allocated for additional needs overall. This will help schools in their vital work to close attainment gaps and level up educational opportunities.

The pupil premium grant, introduced in 2011, also offers direct funding to schools to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged 5 to 16 year olds in state-funded schools in England. The department increased the premium pupil funding to over £2.9 billion this financial year to ensure the most disadvantaged pupils receive the support they need to succeed at school.

The department is providing funding to ensure that every 16 to 18 year old has a place in further education or training if they want one. The department invested over £7 billion on 16 to 19 programme funding during the 2023/24 academic year, which included over £590 million to support students who are economically deprived and to account for low prior attainment in English and mathematics. Over £35 million has also been allocated in the 2023/24 academic year to provide free meals for 16 to 19 year olds in further education. Additionally, the department allocated over £159 million of bursary funding to institutions in the 2023/24 academic year to help disadvantaged 16 to 19 year olds with costs such as travel, books, equipment and trips, which is nearly 12% higher than published allocations for the 2022/23 academic year.


Written Question
Internet: Education
Friday 25th November 2022

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment Ofsted has made of Ofcom's progress towards improving the online media literacy of internet users.

Answered by Baroness Barran

Ofsted is not responsible for evaluating the work of Ofcom and has made no assessment of Ofcom’s progress on this matter.

Ofsted sets clear expectations that schools teach pupils how to understand and recognise risks they may encounter online. This should include a well constructed relationship, sex and health education curriculum that addresses online abuse and harassment, online safeguarding risks, and what constitutes a healthy relationship online. Ofsted also expects schools to act to ensure bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual violence, online or offline, are unacceptable and dealt with quickly, consistently, and effectively should they occur.


Written Question
Internet: Curriculum
Friday 25th November 2022

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask His Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to increasing the time devoted to online media literacy as part of the national curriculum.

Answered by Baroness Barran

The Department continues to support schools to deliver media literacy education. There are many opportunities across the national curriculum for pupils to acquire knowledge of online media literacy. It is taught through the compulsory subjects of computing and citizenship and relationships, sex and health education (RSHE), which was introduced in September 2020. Non-online media literacy is also covered in history and English.

The computing curriculum teaches children how to use technology safely. This includes understanding the internet, using search technologies effectively, and being discerning when evaluating digital content.

Citizenship education equips pupils with the knowledge to explore issues critically, weigh evidence, make reasoned arguments, and take informed action. Pupils are taught the role of responsible journalism in democratic society, enabling them to identify misinformation.

The RSHE curriculum includes online relationships, the implications of sharing private or personal data, including images, online, harmful content and contact, cyberbullying, overreliance on social media, and where to get help and support for issues that occur online.


Written Question
Bourne End Academy
Wednesday 3rd April 2019

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the statutory basis for the decision to transfer Bourne End Academy from Wycombe High School Academy Trust to E-ACT; and what guarantees have been given to parents whose children currently attend Bourne End Academy about its long-term future.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

Bourne End Academy (BEA) was transferred to E-ACT, following a joint decision by the department and Wycombe High School Academies Trust. It was agreed that the next phase for BEA would be for the school to move into a larger multi academy trust with the resources and capacity to continue to build on the improvements already achieved. BEA was subsequently transferred to E-ACT on 1 September 2018. A consultation is now open to consider the closure of E-ACT Burnham Park Academy, with pupils currently attending the school expected to complete their studies at BEA.

The department is committed to securing the best possible educational outcomes for pupils at BEA, working with all relevant parties to secure this. Ofsted will retain its responsibility for monitoring the school and for conducting any future inspections.


Written Question
First4Adoption
Thursday 22nd March 2018

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to continue the funding and support they give to First4Adoption, the national information service for people interested in adopting a child in England.

Answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton

First4Adoption has operated under the Department for Education’s National Gateway for Adoption contract since its launch in 2012. The contract ends on 31 March 2018. The department intends to ensure that materials developed under the contract remain free to access so that prospective adopters can still benefit from this information.

The government continues to invest in adoption through the development of Regional Adoption Agencies, as well as announcing 16 new Practice Improvement Fund projects last year. The government also supports the Adoption Support Fund, which has provided more than £66 million to support thousands of families since launching in May 2015.


Written Question
Armed Forces: Compensation
Wednesday 29th June 2016

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will take action in response to the recent report by Local Equal Excellent that children with a Pakistani background sitting the 11-plus entrance examination in Buckinghamshire are only half as likely as their white classmates to secure a place at one of the grammar schools in that area.

Answered by Lord Nash

The School Admissions Code requires school admission arrangements to be ‘fair, clear and objective’. It further requires that ‘admission authorities must ensure that their arrangements will not disadvantage unfairly, either directly or indirectly, a child from a particular social or racial group’.

Those who consider an admission policy, including a selection test, to breach the School Admissions Code can submit an objection to the independent Schools Adjudicator. If the Adjudicator agrees that the policy is unfair or otherwise breaches the Code she can require schools to amend their admission arrangements.


Written Question
Grammar Schools: Buckinghamshire
Thursday 7th April 2016

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the not-for-profit company that sets and co-ordinates the 11 plus exam in Buckinghamshire is subject to the public sector equality duty.

Answered by Lord Nash

The Department for Education holds no responsibility for the 11 plus exams. These are commercial products which local authorities and independent schools implement at their discretion.

The 11 plus exam, or newly-named ‘Transfer Test’, in Buckinghamshire is developed by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at the University of Durham, which is an independent educational supplier. Private and voluntary organisations are subject to the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010 when they carry out public functions. The duty may therefore apply to CEM’s public functions only, but the Department cannot advise on this.


Written Question
Grammar Schools: Maidenhead
Monday 9th November 2015

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will support the proposal by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to invite the Sir William Borlase Grammar School to open a new grammar school in Maidenhead in the near future.

Answered by Lord Nash

Current legislation prohibits the introduction of a new grammar school. The government has been clear that we have not changed the law in this area.

The government is supportive of all good and outstanding schools that seek to expand, in order to deliver more school places and greater choice to parents. Any school proposing such an expansion would need to demonstrate that it was a genuine continuation of an existing school. Schools that have successfully proposed an expansion have met a high threshold and other schools would need to do the same.


Written Question
Children: Social Services
Tuesday 17th February 2015

Asked by: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the August 2014 Ofsted inspection report which found Buckinghamshire County Council's children's services (particularly in relation to the protection of children) to be "inadequate"; who has been appointed as Buckinghamshire County Council Children's Social Care Adviser; and when it is expected that Buckinghamshire County Council will resume direct responsibility for its children's services.

Answered by Lord Nash

Buckinghamshire County Council continues to be responsible for delivering and improving its own children’s services; the Government has appointed Red Quadrant as an adviser for a period of eighteen months to support it in doing so. The Department for Education’s intervention arrangements will, however, remain in place until the performance of children’s services in Buckinghamshire reaches the required level.