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Written Question
National Tutoring Programme
22 Apr 2021

Questioner: Huw Merriman (CON - Bexhill and Battle)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure former teachers that are not registered with a teaching agency are able to participate in the Government’s national tutoring programme.

Answered by Nick Gibb

The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is an ambitious scheme that will provide additional, targeted support for those children and young people who have been hardest hit from disruption to their education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

There is extensive evidence that tutoring, by trained tutors who may or may not be qualified teachers, is one of the most effective ways to accelerate pupil progress, can lead to positive impacts and can boost catch up for lost teaching time by much as 3 to 5 months.

High quality tuition is one of the fundamental principles of the NTP, and the Department has worked closely with delivery partners to ensure it can be delivered across the programme.

Whilst we recognise that the education and experience of tutors is important to the delivery of high quality tuition, even tutors with relevant qualifications will require training to ensure that delivery is in line with the model offered by the Tuition Partners’ pillar of the NTP.

Opportunities to become a NTP tutor are available through approved Tuition Partners who are responsible for recruiting, training, and deploying tutors. Further information on each of our tuition partners can be found here: https://nationaltutoring.org.uk/ntp-tuition-partners/ntp-approved-tuition-partners.


Written Question
Special Educational Needs
25 Mar 2021

Questioner: Huw Merriman (CON - Bexhill and Battle)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure schools and colleges are (a) trained to identify neurodiverse learners and (b) equipped to develop strategies to improve education outcomes for neurodiverse learners.

Answered by Vicky Ford

The SEND Code of Practice is clear that schools (and further education colleges, sixth form colleges and 16-19 academies) are required to identify and address the special educational needs (SEN) of the pupils they support and to use their best endeavours to make sure that a child or young person who has SEN gets the support that they need.

One of the ways of ensuring that children with SEN are identified and receive good support is through the work of SEN Co-ordinators (SENCOs). All schools (including academies) must have a qualified teacher designated as a SENCO. SENCOs play an essential role in schools, supporting teaching staff to meet the needs of pupils with SEN and ensuring that schools have a clear and effective approach to inclusive education.

The department recognises the importance of teachers developing and building on their awareness and understanding of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Our school-led system places the responsibility on schools to determine the training and support required by their staff to meet the needs of children with SEND, within their approach to school improvement, professional development and performance management.

The performance of all teachers in maintained schools must be assessed every year against the Teachers' Standards, which set out that teachers must have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including pupils with SEN, and that teachers must be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support their pupils.

Through our contract with nasen, we have funded the Whole School SEND consortium to produce information for families and resources for schools (including training to support teachers to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak). This activity complements their wider programme of work to equip the workforce to deliver high-quality teaching for all children with SEND, for which we have provided funding of over £6 million since 2018.

For those working with children with autism, the department has funded the Autism Education Trust (AET) since 2011 to deliver autism awareness training to staff in early years settings, schools and colleges. To date, the AET has trained more than 287,000 people – not just teachers and teaching assistants, but also receptionists, dining hall staff and caretakers, promoting a whole-school approach to support for pupils with autism.

Regional networks have also been established to promote the use of the training developed by the AET in schools, and we encourage schools to access this training. The AET has also developed national standards for autism support and a progression framework for those who work with children who have autism. These are available from their website at: www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk.


Written Question
Children: Day Care
15 Mar 2021

Questioner: Huw Merriman (CON - Bexhill and Battle)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps are being taken by (a) his Department and (b) local education authorities to help ensure that (i) will be (A) sufficient, (B) affordable and (C) local full-time holiday childcare provision for people working in frontline and key services and (ii) working people on lower incomes are prioritised above those not working and able to provide childcare from home during the Easter 2021 and summer 2021 school holidays.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Ensuring working parents and carers have access to the childcare they need remains a priority for the government. That is why we ensured that all before and after-school clubs, holiday clubs, and other out-of-school settings were able to continue to stay open for children eligible to attend school on-site, for the duration of the national lockdown, i.e. for critical worker children, where the provision was reasonably necessary to support them to work, undertake education or access medical care, and for vulnerable children and young people. For this reason, we have also extended the eligibility for attendance as of 8 March, in line with the wider reopening of schools on 8 March, with all parents now able to access this provision for their children for certain essential purposes, including those outlined above, with vulnerable children and young people able to continue accessing provision under any circumstance.

As set out in the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ guidance, from 29 March, in line with the Easter school holidays, out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare providers will also be able to offer outdoor provision to all children, without any restrictions on the purposes for which they may attend. The guidance can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021. Indoor provision will also be available regardless of circumstance to vulnerable children and young people, as well as children eligible for free school meals, where they are attending as part of the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food programme. Other children will continue to be able to access indoor provision, where the provision is necessary for certain essential purposes, as already mentioned. We have updated our protective measures guidance for the sector, which outlines eligibility and aims to support providers to allow them to open for as many children as safely as possible. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

In addition to this, we have also ensured that there are several other ways that parents and carers can continue to access the childcare they need. This includes:

  • Childminders, which remain open for children in early years, children of critical workers and vulnerable children and young people.
  • Nannies, which are still able to continue to provide services, including in the home.
  • Parents are also able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under the age of 14.
  • ​Some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, which allows single adult households to join another household.

We have also encouraged all local authorities to consider using local grants made available to them by government to help bolster this part of the childcare sector in their areas, to safeguard sufficient childcare provision. This includes the £594 million discretionary fund for councils and the devolved administrations to support local businesses that may not have been eligible for other support during the current national lockdown, as well as funding streams such as the Holiday Activities and Food Programme, aimed to support disadvantaged children. The expanded programme, which comprises a £220 million fund to be delivered through grants to local authorities, will be expanded to reach all local authority areas during the upcoming Easter, summer, and Christmas holidays this year.

However, where parents are still finding it difficult to access sufficient childcare, we recommend that they contact their local authority’s family information services. Local authorities are required by legislation to secure sufficient free early years provision and paid-for childcare places, so far as is reasonably practicable, for working parents, or parents who are studying or training for employment, for children aged 0 to 14.


Written Question
Extended Services: Coronavirus
28 Jan 2021

Questioner: Huw Merriman (CON - Bexhill and Battle)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support working parents and carers who require wraparound childcare provided by schools where that childcare is not available during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

Answered by Vicky Ford

Ensuring that working parents and carers have access to the childcare they need remains a priority for the government. That is why we have ensured that all before and after-school clubs, holiday clubs and other out-of-school settings have been able to continue to stay open for children eligible to attend school on-site (i.e. for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children and young people), for the duration of the national lockdown, in line with the protective measures guidance for the sector which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

We have also made clear that schools should be continuing to offer before and after-school provision for those pupils eligible to attend for on-site provision, where it is feasible for them to do so. We have provided guidance for schools to support them to resume this provision. A copy of the guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

In addition to this, we have also ensured that there are several other ways that parents and carers can continue to access the childcare they need during the national restrictions. This includes:

  • Childminders, which remain open for children in early years, children of critical workers and vulnerable children and young people;
  • Nannies, which are still able to continue to provide services, including in the home;
  • Parents are also able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under the age of 14; and
  • Some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, which allows single adult households to join another household.