Siobhain McDonagh Written Questions

19 Questions to Department for Education tabled by Siobhain McDonagh


Date Title Questioner
15 May 2020, 2:46 p.m. Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the (a) cost to the public purse is each week and (b) average weekly cost is per child of the free school meal voucher scheme.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

Where possible, schools are encouraged to work with their existing suppliers to provide meals or food parcels to free school meal-eligible children currently at home due to school closures. Where this is not possible, the national voucher scheme is available to support schools with this process.

The scheme allows schools to place orders for supermarket gift cards on behalf of parents and carers. These are worth £15 a week per child. Thousands of schools have already accessed the scheme, and many hundreds of thousands of families are already redeeming vouchers. Edenred has reported that over £70 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Tuesday 12 May.

28 Apr 2020, 2:56 p.m. Free School Meals: Coronavirus Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what rate of commission Edenred is charging for its service to provide free school meal vouchers during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

The contract for the national free school meals voucher scheme was let against Crown Commercial Service framework RM6133. The successful provider is the sole provider on the framework and direct awards are permitted action. The department does not comment on the commercial arrangements of third parties but can confirm that we are only paying for the face value of goods delivered – in this case, vouchers.

The vouchers can currently be spent in a variety of supermarkets. Initially, the scheme includes supermarkets that already have e-gift card arrangements in place with Edenred, including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, M&S and Waitrose. On 21 April, we were pleased to confirm that Aldi will be added to the list of supermarkets from the week commencing 27 April. We are working to see if additional supermarkets can be added to this list as soon as possible. Where families are unable to access any of these supermarkets, schools are able to buy vouchers for other retailers and we have published guidance setting out how we will compensate schools who incur additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers to pupils affected by COVID-19.

28 Apr 2020, 2:56 p.m. Free School Meals: Coronavirus Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what process his Department used to select the provider for the free school meal voucher programme during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

The contract for the national free school meals voucher scheme was let against Crown Commercial Service framework RM6133. The successful provider is the sole provider on the framework and direct awards are permitted action. The department does not comment on the commercial arrangements of third parties but can confirm that we are only paying for the face value of goods delivered – in this case, vouchers.

The vouchers can currently be spent in a variety of supermarkets. Initially, the scheme includes supermarkets that already have e-gift card arrangements in place with Edenred, including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, M&S and Waitrose. On 21 April, we were pleased to confirm that Aldi will be added to the list of supermarkets from the week commencing 27 April. We are working to see if additional supermarkets can be added to this list as soon as possible. Where families are unable to access any of these supermarkets, schools are able to buy vouchers for other retailers and we have published guidance setting out how we will compensate schools who incur additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers to pupils affected by COVID-19.

28 Apr 2020, 2:56 p.m. Free School Meals: Coronavirus Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department made an assessment of the accessibility of all retailers when designing the free school meal voucher scheme during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

The contract for the national free school meals voucher scheme was let against Crown Commercial Service framework RM6133. The successful provider is the sole provider on the framework and direct awards are permitted action. The department does not comment on the commercial arrangements of third parties but can confirm that we are only paying for the face value of goods delivered – in this case, vouchers.

The vouchers can currently be spent in a variety of supermarkets. Initially, the scheme includes supermarkets that already have e-gift card arrangements in place with Edenred, including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, M&S and Waitrose. On 21 April, we were pleased to confirm that Aldi will be added to the list of supermarkets from the week commencing 27 April. We are working to see if additional supermarkets can be added to this list as soon as possible. Where families are unable to access any of these supermarkets, schools are able to buy vouchers for other retailers and we have published guidance setting out how we will compensate schools who incur additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers to pupils affected by COVID-19.

27 Apr 2020, 5:30 p.m. Free School Meals: Coronavirus Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether schools will be reimbursed if they bought free school meals vouchers from another retailer due to being unable to access the Edenred scheme during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

To provide free school meals for pupils not attending school we are encouraging schools to speak to their catering team or provider in the first instance to see if they can prepare meals or food parcels that could be delivered to, or collected by, families. Where this is not possible, we have developed a national voucher scheme to enable schools to provide supermarket vouchers.

We are providing extra funding to schools, on top of existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the coronavirus outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. This includes local free school meal arrangements set up by schools to support eligible children, where our national voucher scheme is not appropriate or before it was introduced. The guidance on this additional funding is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

13 Jun 2019, 2:44 p.m. Breakfast Clubs Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many (a) schools and (b) children are participating in the National School Breakfast Programme each day.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The department is investing up to £26 million in a breakfast club programme, using funds from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy revenues. This money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in over 1,700 schools. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life.

A contract was awarded to Family Action in March 2018 and will run until March 2020. Family Action, in partnership with Magic Breakfast, have both been named as the leading charities responsible for running the Breakfast Club programme. Family Action are distributing the appropriate funding to participating schools who meet the eligibility criteria.

We monitor management information from the programme on an ongoing basis and will also review the effectiveness of the programme fully once the programme concludes including the number of children attending.

In March 2019, Family Action indicated that by the start of the summer term over 250,000 children would be benefiting from the programme. The contract for the National Schools Breakfast Programme required the contractor Family Action to provide breakfast provision to at least 1,500 schools across England. This has now been surpassed by Family Action and Magic Breakfast by who have recruited more than 1,700 schools.

Decisions about any funding beyond March 2020 will be taken as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

13 Jun 2019, 2:44 p.m. Breakfast Clubs Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children the National School Breakfast Programme (a) was projected to reach and (b) has reached.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The department is investing up to £26 million in a breakfast club programme, using funds from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy revenues. This money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in over 1,700 schools. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life.

A contract was awarded to Family Action in March 2018 and will run until March 2020. Family Action, in partnership with Magic Breakfast, have both been named as the leading charities responsible for running the Breakfast Club programme. Family Action are distributing the appropriate funding to participating schools who meet the eligibility criteria.

We monitor management information from the programme on an ongoing basis and will also review the effectiveness of the programme fully once the programme concludes including the number of children attending.

In March 2019, Family Action indicated that by the start of the summer term over 250,000 children would be benefiting from the programme. The contract for the National Schools Breakfast Programme required the contractor Family Action to provide breakfast provision to at least 1,500 schools across England. This has now been surpassed by Family Action and Magic Breakfast by who have recruited more than 1,700 schools.

Decisions about any funding beyond March 2020 will be taken as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

13 Jun 2019, 2:44 p.m. Breakfast Clubs Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has plans to maintain funding for the National School Breakfast Programme.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The department is investing up to £26 million in a breakfast club programme, using funds from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy revenues. This money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in over 1,700 schools. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life.

A contract was awarded to Family Action in March 2018 and will run until March 2020. Family Action, in partnership with Magic Breakfast, have both been named as the leading charities responsible for running the Breakfast Club programme. Family Action are distributing the appropriate funding to participating schools who meet the eligibility criteria.

We monitor management information from the programme on an ongoing basis and will also review the effectiveness of the programme fully once the programme concludes including the number of children attending.

In March 2019, Family Action indicated that by the start of the summer term over 250,000 children would be benefiting from the programme. The contract for the National Schools Breakfast Programme required the contractor Family Action to provide breakfast provision to at least 1,500 schools across England. This has now been surpassed by Family Action and Magic Breakfast by who have recruited more than 1,700 schools.

Decisions about any funding beyond March 2020 will be taken as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

13 Jun 2019, 2:44 p.m. Breakfast Clubs Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the timeframe is for his Department's decision on funding for the National School Breakfast Programme in 2020-2022.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The department is investing up to £26 million in a breakfast club programme, using funds from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy revenues. This money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in over 1,700 schools. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life.

A contract was awarded to Family Action in March 2018 and will run until March 2020. Family Action, in partnership with Magic Breakfast, have both been named as the leading charities responsible for running the Breakfast Club programme. Family Action are distributing the appropriate funding to participating schools who meet the eligibility criteria.

We monitor management information from the programme on an ongoing basis and will also review the effectiveness of the programme fully once the programme concludes including the number of children attending.

In March 2019, Family Action indicated that by the start of the summer term over 250,000 children would be benefiting from the programme. The contract for the National Schools Breakfast Programme required the contractor Family Action to provide breakfast provision to at least 1,500 schools across England. This has now been surpassed by Family Action and Magic Breakfast by who have recruited more than 1,700 schools.

Decisions about any funding beyond March 2020 will be taken as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

13 Jun 2019, 2:44 p.m. Breakfast Clubs Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the National School Breakfast Programme on social mobility.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The department is investing up to £26 million in a breakfast club programme, using funds from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy revenues. This money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in over 1,700 schools. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life.

A contract was awarded to Family Action in March 2018 and will run until March 2020. Family Action, in partnership with Magic Breakfast, have both been named as the leading charities responsible for running the Breakfast Club programme. Family Action are distributing the appropriate funding to participating schools who meet the eligibility criteria.

We monitor management information from the programme on an ongoing basis and will also review the effectiveness of the programme fully once the programme concludes including the number of children attending.

In March 2019, Family Action indicated that by the start of the summer term over 250,000 children would be benefiting from the programme. The contract for the National Schools Breakfast Programme required the contractor Family Action to provide breakfast provision to at least 1,500 schools across England. This has now been surpassed by Family Action and Magic Breakfast by who have recruited more than 1,700 schools.

Decisions about any funding beyond March 2020 will be taken as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

13 Jun 2019, 2:44 p.m. Breakfast Clubs Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of effectiveness of the National School Breakfast Programme.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The department is investing up to £26 million in a breakfast club programme, using funds from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy revenues. This money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in over 1,700 schools. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life.

A contract was awarded to Family Action in March 2018 and will run until March 2020. Family Action, in partnership with Magic Breakfast, have both been named as the leading charities responsible for running the Breakfast Club programme. Family Action are distributing the appropriate funding to participating schools who meet the eligibility criteria.

We monitor management information from the programme on an ongoing basis and will also review the effectiveness of the programme fully once the programme concludes including the number of children attending.

In March 2019, Family Action indicated that by the start of the summer term over 250,000 children would be benefiting from the programme. The contract for the National Schools Breakfast Programme required the contractor Family Action to provide breakfast provision to at least 1,500 schools across England. This has now been surpassed by Family Action and Magic Breakfast by who have recruited more than 1,700 schools.

Decisions about any funding beyond March 2020 will be taken as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

13 Jun 2019, 2:44 p.m. Pupils: Food Poverty Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking in response to the finding of the National Association of Head Teachers Report that four out of five school leaders have seen a rise in the number of pupils arriving at school hungry in the last five years.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The department is investing up to £26 million in a breakfast club programme, using funds from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy revenues. This money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in over 1,700 schools. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life.

A contract was awarded to Family Action in March 2018 and will run until March 2020. Family Action, in partnership with Magic Breakfast, have both been named as the leading charities responsible for running the Breakfast Club programme. Family Action are distributing the appropriate funding to participating schools who meet the eligibility criteria.

We monitor management information from the programme on an ongoing basis and will also review the effectiveness of the programme fully once the programme concludes including the number of children attending.

In March 2019, Family Action indicated that by the start of the summer term over 250,000 children would be benefiting from the programme. The contract for the National Schools Breakfast Programme required the contractor Family Action to provide breakfast provision to at least 1,500 schools across England. This has now been surpassed by Family Action and Magic Breakfast by who have recruited more than 1,700 schools.

Decisions about any funding beyond March 2020 will be taken as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

13 Jun 2019, 2:44 p.m. Breakfast Clubs Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Treasury new story of 5 April 2018, Soft Drinks Industry Levy comes into effect, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy on the number of children starting the day with a healthy breakfast.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The department is investing up to £26 million in a breakfast club programme, using funds from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy revenues. This money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in over 1,700 schools. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life.

A contract was awarded to Family Action in March 2018 and will run until March 2020. Family Action, in partnership with Magic Breakfast, have both been named as the leading charities responsible for running the Breakfast Club programme. Family Action are distributing the appropriate funding to participating schools who meet the eligibility criteria.

We monitor management information from the programme on an ongoing basis and will also review the effectiveness of the programme fully once the programme concludes including the number of children attending.

In March 2019, Family Action indicated that by the start of the summer term over 250,000 children would be benefiting from the programme. The contract for the National Schools Breakfast Programme required the contractor Family Action to provide breakfast provision to at least 1,500 schools across England. This has now been surpassed by Family Action and Magic Breakfast by who have recruited more than 1,700 schools.

Decisions about any funding beyond March 2020 will be taken as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

13 Jun 2019, 1:55 p.m. Soft Drinks: Taxation Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how the revenue from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy was spent in 2018-2019.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

The revenue raised from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has been allocated to the Department for Education by HM Treasury. Over 2018/19 the Healthy Pupils Capital Fund has spent £100 million. The PE and Sport Premium has spent £160 million. The Essential Life Skills programme has spent £13.85 million. Up to £26 million has been allocated to the National Schools Breakfast Programme over 2018-20.

12 Jun 2019, 2:13 p.m. Academies Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many academies do not have a sponsor.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

​As at 1 June 2019 there are 8,678 open academies and free schools. 2,631 of these do not have a sponsor. The majority of these are converter academies where there is no requirement for a sponsor. There is also a small number who were formerly sponsored but no longer have a sponsor.

There are 161 local authority maintained schools in the process of becoming a sponsored academy. Of these 161 schools, 83 (52%) have no sponsor assigned to them; some of these, will be early in the conversion process.

Schools can draw on their reserves for a range of planned and sensible reasons. This is not an issue in and of itself, unless it is symptomatic of a trend towards a cumulative deficit. Cumulative deficit and surplus positions are a more reliable overall measure of financial health. In-year spending often presents an inconsistent picture.

Of the 2,631 academies without a sponsor, 1,243 are recorded as having expenditure that exceeded income in 2017/18. This can often be planned expenditure using reserves strategically. There were 182 with a cumulative deficit. If the sums are significant, the trust may, as appropriate, be subject to scrutiny or intervention by ESFA. Of the 83 local authority maintained schools in the process of becoming a sponsored academy, 50 had expenditure that exceeded income, while 28 had a cumulative deficit.

When a local authority maintained school with a deficit becomes a sponsored academy, the deficit remains with the local authority, in line with our published guidance. Likewise, when an academy with a deficit is in scope to transfer to a new trust, any deficit at the academy at the point of transfer would ordinarily remain with the outgoing trust in line with our published guidance.

12 Jun 2019, 2:13 p.m. Academies Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many academies without a sponsor have a budget deficit.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

​As at 1 June 2019 there are 8,678 open academies and free schools. 2,631 of these do not have a sponsor. The majority of these are converter academies where there is no requirement for a sponsor. There is also a small number who were formerly sponsored but no longer have a sponsor.

There are 161 local authority maintained schools in the process of becoming a sponsored academy. Of these 161 schools, 83 (52%) have no sponsor assigned to them; some of these, will be early in the conversion process.

Schools can draw on their reserves for a range of planned and sensible reasons. This is not an issue in and of itself, unless it is symptomatic of a trend towards a cumulative deficit. Cumulative deficit and surplus positions are a more reliable overall measure of financial health. In-year spending often presents an inconsistent picture.

Of the 2,631 academies without a sponsor, 1,243 are recorded as having expenditure that exceeded income in 2017/18. This can often be planned expenditure using reserves strategically. There were 182 with a cumulative deficit. If the sums are significant, the trust may, as appropriate, be subject to scrutiny or intervention by ESFA. Of the 83 local authority maintained schools in the process of becoming a sponsored academy, 50 had expenditure that exceeded income, while 28 had a cumulative deficit.

When a local authority maintained school with a deficit becomes a sponsored academy, the deficit remains with the local authority, in line with our published guidance. Likewise, when an academy with a deficit is in scope to transfer to a new trust, any deficit at the academy at the point of transfer would ordinarily remain with the outgoing trust in line with our published guidance.

12 Jun 2019, 2:13 p.m. Academies Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many academies do not have a sponsor because they have a budget deficit.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

​As at 1 June 2019 there are 8,678 open academies and free schools. 2,631 of these do not have a sponsor. The majority of these are converter academies where there is no requirement for a sponsor. There is also a small number who were formerly sponsored but no longer have a sponsor.

There are 161 local authority maintained schools in the process of becoming a sponsored academy. Of these 161 schools, 83 (52%) have no sponsor assigned to them; some of these, will be early in the conversion process.

Schools can draw on their reserves for a range of planned and sensible reasons. This is not an issue in and of itself, unless it is symptomatic of a trend towards a cumulative deficit. Cumulative deficit and surplus positions are a more reliable overall measure of financial health. In-year spending often presents an inconsistent picture.

Of the 2,631 academies without a sponsor, 1,243 are recorded as having expenditure that exceeded income in 2017/18. This can often be planned expenditure using reserves strategically. There were 182 with a cumulative deficit. If the sums are significant, the trust may, as appropriate, be subject to scrutiny or intervention by ESFA. Of the 83 local authority maintained schools in the process of becoming a sponsored academy, 50 had expenditure that exceeded income, while 28 had a cumulative deficit.

When a local authority maintained school with a deficit becomes a sponsored academy, the deficit remains with the local authority, in line with our published guidance. Likewise, when an academy with a deficit is in scope to transfer to a new trust, any deficit at the academy at the point of transfer would ordinarily remain with the outgoing trust in line with our published guidance.

29 Jan 2018, 4:32 p.m. Education: Standards Siobhain McDonagh

Question

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect on children's education of living in temporary accommodation.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

Since being appointed, I have not had a chance to discuss this issue with colleagues. However, we know moving into temporary accommodation can mean changing schools, which is strongly associated with poorer attainment. We provide schools with extra resources to ensure all pupils, regardless of their home circumstances, can go as far as their talent and hard work will take them. We have spent almost £2.5 billion this year through the pupil premium to support disadvantaged pupils.

15 Jan 2018, 5:51 p.m. Hearing Impairment: Children Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of local authorities provide radio aids hearing technology to assist deaf children in educational settings.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

We do not collect data on the provision by local authorities of radio aids to deaf children in educational settings.

Schools and local authorities are required to provide auxiliary aids as part of the reasonable adjustment duty under the Equality Act 2010. Schools are expected to provide an auxiliary aid or service for a disabled pupil when it would be reasonable to do so and if such an aid would alleviate any substantial disadvantage that the pupil faces in comparison to non-disabled pupils. All such decisions depend on the facts of each individual case. Where there is a centrally organised visual or hearing impairment service it may be reasonable for the local authority to provide more expensive aids or support through that service but not reasonable for an individual school to have to provide them.

Local authorities must have regard to the statutory responsibilities placed upon them by the Children and Families Act 2014 to determine appropriate provision for children and young people with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) in their area and to keep it under review. They are also required to consult children and young people and their families on their published Local Offer of SEND provision. This is especially important for low incidence types of SEND such as hearing impairment.