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Written Question
Veterans: Education
17 Mar 2021

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to enable veterans to study for educational and vocational qualifications.

Answered by Gillian Keegan

While there are no specific eligibility provisions for veterans within the Adult Education Budget, they do have the same rights to access educational and vocational qualifications as other individuals.

Residency eligibility criteria mean that an individual is required to have resided in England and have three-year ordinary residency in the UK and/or European Economic Area, depending on their nationality. Armed forces personnel and their family members posted outside the UK are classed as ordinarily resident in the UK and, where relevant, this may contribute towards the three years ordinary residency requirement, provided they are now residing in England and the learning is taking place in England.

Individuals who meet the residency eligibility criteria can access provision including fully funded courses in English and maths, for adults who need to improve their literacy and numeracy, fully funded first full Level 2 and/or Level 3 for learners aged 19 to 23 and fully funded specified digital skills qualifications for adults with no/low digital skills.

They will also be able to access a range of provision funded through the National Skills Fund:

  • We will invest £95 million from the National Skills Fund to support all adults to achieve their first full Level 3 qualification, which is equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or two full A-Levels. Currently, adults between the ages of 19 to 23 are eligible for full funding for their first full Level 3. This offer will ensure that adults aged 24 and over are now able to access their first full, fully funded, Level 3 qualification.
  • We will target this Level 3 adult offer on sector subject areas that have strong outcomes at Level 3 linked to labour market need. The offer includes a range of qualifications that are valuable across the economy in multiple sectors, for example, digital skills, accountancy and business skills. This forms part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee and provides adults, including veterans, with an opportunity to gain these qualifications at any stage of their lives.
  • Complementing the Level 3 adult offer, Skills Bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Skills Bootcamps will address the needs of adults aged 19 and over, providing them with opportunities to retrain, update or formalise their skills or acquire specialist skills.


Written Question
Remote Education: Disadvantaged
2 Mar 2021

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help disadvantaged children and young people learn at home during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Nick Gibb

Given the critical importance of ensuring that all children and young people continue to learn during the national lockdown, the Department updated our remote education expectations for schools and FE colleges to clarify and strengthen what is expected, drawing on our evolving understanding of best practice in remote education.

To support disadvantaged children and young people with access to remote education and online social care, the Government is investing over £400 million. We have secured 1.3 million laptops and tablets and have already delivered over 1.2 million of these to schools, colleges, academy trusts, local authorities, and further education colleges to support disadvantaged children and young people who would not otherwise have access to a digital device.

The Department has also partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online, as well as delivering over 70,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.

The Department has also made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy, both for the summer term of the academic year 2019-20, and then for the 2020-21 academic year, to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects for Reception up to Year 11. Specialist content for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities is also available. Four major mobile network operators - Vodafone, O2, Three and EE - have also committed to working together to make access to Oak National Academy free for school children.

The BBC has adapted their education support for the spring term 2021 and is making educational content available on the television. This helps to ensure all children and young people can access curriculum based learning from home, even if they do not have access to the internet. To support this, BT and EE have made access to BBC Bitesize resources for free from the end of January 2021.

In addition, the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) provides additional, targeted support for disadvantaged pupils to catch-up on missed learning. The NTP provides access to high-quality tuition for disadvantaged pupils, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackling the attainment gap between them and their peers.


Written Question
Assessments: Coronavirus
2 Mar 2021

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent progress his Department has made on the introduction of alternative arrangements to exams in 2021.

Answered by Nick Gibb

Given the ongoing disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department announced in January that GCSE, AS and A level examinations will not go ahead as planned this summer. In ensuring our approach was developed with the sector, the Department and Ofqual launched a joint consultation in January 2021 on how to award grades in 2021 to ensure they are robust and fair. We received over 100,000 responses from students, parents, teachers, school leaders and other stakeholders. There was widespread support for our approach.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, confirmed in his statement on 25 February 2021 that pupils will receive grades determined by their teachers, with pupils only assessed on what they have been taught. Fairness to young people is fundamental to the Department and Ofqual’s decision making. We want to ensure all young people have the confidence that, despite examinations not going ahead, they will receive a grade that reflects their ability and enables them to progress.

Full details on alternative arrangements to exams can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/teacher-assessed-grades-for-students.


Written Question
Students: Coronavirus
2 Mar 2021

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support university students facing financial hardship as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact the crisis will have on some students.

We are making available an additional £50 million of hardship funding this financial year. In total we have made £70 million of funding available for student hardship given the £20 million made available to higher education providers in December 2020.

Providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need. The funding can be distributed to a wide population of students, including postgraduates (whether taught or research) and international students.

This money is in addition to the £256 million of Student Premium funding higher education providers are able draw on this academic year towards student hardship funds.

We know that not all students will face financial hardship. The current measures aim to target support for students in greatest need and the government continues to monitor the situation going forward to look at what impact this funding is having.

On 13 January 2021, I wrote to the Office for Students, the regulator for higher education providers in England and outlined government expectations of the higher education sector. Universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition and seek to ensure that all students, regardless of their background, have the resources to study remotely.


Written Question
Special Educational Needs
26 Feb 2021

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure the adequacy of education for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Answered by Vicky Ford

During periods of national lockdown, education settings have remained open to vulnerable children and young people, including those with education, health and care plans. The guidance for the full opening of schools is clear that all children and young people, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), should return to education settings full-time from Monday 8 March. Where it is not possible for a child or young person with SEND to attend their education setting during this period, there is a legal duty on schools and colleges to use their best endeavours to meet the educational needs of their pupils or students. Discussions should be collaborative, focusing on the welfare and views of the child or young person and their parents.

To support remote learning, the department has made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy, both for the summer term of the 2019-20 academic year and the 2020-21 academic year, to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects for Reception to year 11. This includes specialist content for pupils with SEND, along with therapy-based lessons and resources.

Whilst inspection activity has been paused, Ofsted is conducting monitoring inspections of inadequate schools and some that require improvement. These include a focus on support for pupils with SEND, whether they are in school or being educated at home.

The government has announced further elements of the recovery support package so that children and young people can catch up on missed learning and development due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This will be supported with a new £700 million package, focusing on an expansion of one-to-one and small group tutoring programmes, as well as supporting the development of disadvantaged children in early years settings, and summer provision for those pupils who need it the most. These measures will build on the existing £1 billion support package, which includes a £650 million catch-up premium directly allocated to schools, with additional weighting for specialist settings, recognising the significantly higher per-pupil costs that they face. Headteachers decide how this premium is spent (for example, on educational psychologists, speech and language therapy or other activities to support children to catch-up).

We have put major funding investments into education, including increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780 million this year and a further £730 million next year, boosting the total budget to more than £8 billion in 2021-22. Local authorities have been allocated a further £4.6 billion to help their communities through the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding is un-ringfenced, recognising local authorities are best placed to decide how to meet the major COVID-19 service pressures in their local area, including support to children’s services.

Through the SEND review, we are committed to ensuring the SEND system is consistent, high quality, and integrated across education, health and care. It is also considering measures to make sure that money is being spent fairly, efficiently and effectively, and that the support available to children and young people is sustainable in the future.


Written Question
Students: Coronavirus
8 Oct 2020

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether (a) a student flat in halls, (b) a student house of multiple occupation and (c) each room within that flat or house is categorised as one household for the purposes of a covid-19 lockdown; and if he will publish guidance on the covid-19 locking down of student accommodation.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

On 10 September, the government issued updated guidance for providers on reopening campuses and buildings to help providers make informed decisions about their provision. This includes guidance on households in student accommodation. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses.

Student accommodation providers should identify ‘households’ within their estate, within which routine contact can be managed safely. These households will also form the units by which any response to a suspected or confirmed positive COVID-19 case will be managed. The approach to deciding what constitutes a household will depend on the physical layout of the accommodation, taking into account who shares a kitchen or bathroom. A household in halls of residence should generally be made up of those students living in the same flat, or on the same floor, who share a kitchen and/or bathroom, rather than an entire block. Accommodation providers should make clear which kitchen(s) and/or bathroom(s) are intended for each household’s use. If a household within student accommodation is not obvious, providers may need to allocate students to specified households (these households may be greater than 6 people).

Students living in halls of residence, or Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate in their current accommodation. Students should discuss this with their higher education provider, and with the manager of their halls if they are privately owned, or the landlord of their HMO.

If a resident has COVID-19 symptoms, all residents in that household must isolate for 14 days. The department has published guidance on isolating in residential educational settings, available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings.

Higher education providers have been asked to aim to ensure that staff, such as catering staff, are available to give support on halls management for students self-isolating or subject to local restrictions. We would also expect higher education providers to continue to provide students with mental health and wellbeing support, which may be provided online.


Written Question
Apprentices: Taxation
29 Oct 2019

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will ensure that unused apprenticeship levy funding is devolved to (a) the West of England combined authority and (b) other local authorities to respond to local needs.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

The apprenticeship levy and funding arrangements are an important part of our changes to raise apprenticeship quality, supporting employers to make a long-term sustainable investment in training.

Employers’ levy funds are distinct from the Department for Education’s ring-fenced annual apprenticeship budget. The funding available in 2019-20 for investment in apprenticeships in England is over £2.5 billion, double what was spent in 2010-11. This fixed budget covers the costs of all apprenticeships, new apprenticeships in both levy-paying employers and those that do not pay the levy, and existing apprenticeships for those who started in previous years.

The budget is not affected by the value of levy funds expiring from employers’ accounts each month. We have never anticipated that all levy-payers will use all the funds available to them, but they are able to if they wish.

Individual employers already have control over where apprenticeship funds are spent to meet their current and future skills needs. Transfers to other employers can support local skills needs and help sectors build sustainable capability for the future. Combined authorities, including the West of England combined authority, sector bodies and Local Enterprise Partnerships can work with employers to encourage more effective use of their uncommitted levy funds. We are pleased to see that levy payers with uncommitted funds are increasingly using transfers to support apprenticeship starts in non-levy paying employers.


Written Question
T-levels
9 Sep 2019

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department has had with industry on the importance of T levels for the economy.

Answered by Kemi Badenoch

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.


Written Question
STEM Subjects
9 Sep 2019

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department has had with the industrial sector on the importance of STEM skills for the economy.

Answered by Kemi Badenoch

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.


Written Question
Artificial Intelligence
9 Sep 2019

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department has had with (a) academia and (b) industry on the (i) implications of and (ii) opportunities for the economy of artificial intelligence.

Answered by Kemi Badenoch

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.


Written Question
Department for Education: Apprentices
17 May 2018

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what levels of apprenticeships are offered by his Department; and how many apprenticeship starts there were at each level in each of the last three years.

Answered by Anne Milton

The department offers apprenticeships at levels 2 to 6. We plan to offer level 7 apprenticeships in the near future.

The data on apprenticeship starts is not available in the format requested. The table below provides the number of those who started an apprenticeship in the department in each of the last three years:

Year

Number of apprentice starts

2015/2016

64

2016/2017

50

2017/2018

116


Written Question
Department for Education: Land
12 Feb 2018

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much land (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies owns in (i) England and (ii) the South West; and how much of that land has been identified as being surplus to requirements.

Answered by Anne Milton

The landholdings of the department are shown in the table below. This does not include land previously identified as surplus that has now been disposed. The information is correct at time of publication:

Size of the freehold of the Department for Education’s land holdings in England as at 5 February 2018

All land (hectares)

Surplus land (hectares)

England

South-West

England

South-West

Department

10.69

0.00

0.00

0.00

Agencies

94.72

6.88

0.88

0.00

Non-departmental public body

160.32

0.00

0.00

0.00

Total

265.74

6.88

0.88

0.00

Note: figures are rounded to two decimal places.

Details of the department's surplus land holdings are published on the register of surplus land and can be viewed at: https://data.gov.uk/dataset/epimstransparency.


Written Question
IGCSE
1 Sep 2014

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make it her policy to retain the international GCSE on school league tables in order to encourage take-up of that qualification.

Answered by David Laws

The Government announced on 24 July 2014 that the only English and mathematics qualifications that will count in the 2017 secondary school performance tables will be reformed GCSEs in those subjects or qualifications reformed to meet the same standards and expectations. The decision was taken following advice from Ofqual, the independent regulator, about the specific challenges of the first awards of reformed GCSEs in summer 2017. That advice is published online at:

www.ofqual.gov.uk/news/advice-ministers-performance-tables-2017

The present arrangements for recognising current level 1/level 2 certificates, such as IGCSEs, will end with the introduction of reformed GCSEs in all subjects.

Following the first exams in the new GCSEs, exam boards will be able to propose alternative academic qualifications for inclusion in performance tables. Any such qualifications will need to be accredited by Ofqual and be at least as demanding as and share key characteristics with the new GCSEs. New alternative academic qualifications could be recognised in performance tables from 2018.