Lee Anderson debates with Department for Education

There have been 2 exchanges between Lee Anderson and Department for Education

Tue 7th July 2020 Support for Left-Behind Children 3 interactions (591 words)
Mon 22nd June 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 7 interactions (118 words)

Support for Left-Behind Children

Lee Anderson Excerpts
Tuesday 7th July 2020

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Education
Ben Bradley Portrait Ben Bradley - Hansard

My hon. Friend is right, and I remember from my own time at primary school that external providers came in successfully to do things such as sport and PE. That seems to have disappeared to some extent, whether because of funding or other issues, but a great deal can be done with external providers. I would particularly push for youth work to be a bigger part of our school community and work more closely with our schools and teachers.

On the summer programme, much emphasis has been placed on academic catch-up, which is hugely important, but as chair of the all-party group for sport, it would not be right for me to ignore the importance of regular sport and activity for the mental and physical health of our young people. Some children will have been out and about during lockdown, taking advantage of that hour of daily exercise to try new things and be active, but many others will have been far less active than normal. I am pleased that the Government have committed to the PE premium funding, which was confirmed this weekend. Keeping kids healthy, and teaching the importance of regular exercise and activity, is just as important as the academic side of things, and it needs to be part of catch-up planning. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) said, this might even be an opportunity to make more of the school estate and, when school facilities are open over the summer, to open those sports facilities that are often locked behind school gates at evenings and weekends to the wider community. Perhaps we could consider that in more detail.

I would welcome a steer from the Minister about the welcome £1 billion funding for capital investments, how my local schools might bid or access that funding, and when the timescales and plans will be laid out, so that as a local MP I can support them to secure some of that funding, which I know they feel is much needed.

I have only a short amount of time left to speak, so I apologise for rushing Madam Deputy Speaker, but I wish to welcome the approach to further education that Ministers have articulated in recent weeks. We must consider the role of skills in further education—including in our colleges—as more of a priority, and finally accept that the endless drive for all children to go to universities is not always helpful. Further education, including adult learning and retraining will play a huge role in the coming years—I know that West Nottinghamshire College in Mansfield takes that very seriously and is being incredibly proactive and looking for positive intervention. I have laid out a number of ideas on this issue privately to Ministers, and in various recent publications. I think that will be beneficial—many of them are in line with what my hon. Friend the Member for Bury South (Christian Wakeford) said earlier—and I hope that as we lay out new programmes and funding, those ideas will be taken into account.

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson (Ashfield) (Con) - Hansard

First, I want to say a big thank you to all the staff and pupils in schools in Ashfield and Eastwood who have been brilliant during this pandemic: they really have gone the extra mile.

I welcome the Government’s continued commitment to increase investment in our education system, and I also welcome the £1 billion covid catch-up fund, which will help children who have lost teaching time. The national tutoring programme will allow disadvantaged children in Ashfield to access high-quality tuition, which is so important for their development and to give them a better chance of doing well in the future. The extra £1.5 billion to fund additional pension costs for teachers also means that more of the education budget can be directed to the frontline. There can be no doubt but that this Government have the best interests of our children at heart. All this is great news for the schools in my area, such as the brilliant Kingsway Primary School, which I visited recently, that has gone above and beyond to keep open.

Last December, seats such as mine in the midlands and the north turned blue for the first time in decades or for the first time ever, and with that came significant challenges. One of the challenges for me and other Conservative MPs in places such as Ashfield is that some schools have been ignored by previous MPs. They have gone under the radar, with no one to shout about them at the highest level. However, the good news is that in Ashfield we now have a Conservative MP—an MP who went to these very schools, as did his children. My family and my friends went to these schools, so it is personal for me, and I am going to do my best.

Only two thirds of young people in the Ashfield area attend a school judged to be good or outstanding, whereas the figure for Nottinghamshire is nine out of 10 young people attending a school judged to be good or outstanding. I believe that even in some of the most deprived areas schools can thrive with the right management and leadership. It is a bit like the NHS, in that it is not always about throwing endless amounts of cash around: get the right management and dedicated staff, and our schools can flourish.

There can be no better example of this than Leamington Primary School in Ashfield. This school overall serves a disadvantaged area of my community, and it was languishing in the satisfactory category, but it has been transformed since being part of the Flying High Trust. The school has now been rated good, and it is having a tremendous impact on children’s lives. This school was not the first choice for many parents, but now there is a waiting list. The credit for this goes to the headteacher, Kaye McGuire, and the Flying High Trust, which is one of the highest performing primary multi-academy trusts in the country.

With great leadership and hard work, anything is possible—Leamington Primary School is proof of this—but where there is poor management and poor leadership, with no intervention from local MPs no amount of money can make a school successful. So I welcome all the extra investment, which will undoubtedly help the young people in Ashfield get a better education. I would like to thank the Secretary of State for Education for visiting Ashfield recently, and I would also like to thank the Minister for School Standards for agreeing to meet me to discuss how we can improve educational standards in Ashfield.

Matt Vickers Portrait Matt Vickers (Stockton South) (Con) - Hansard

Education can be the ultimate gap closer, divide smasher and opportunity provider. Every single child deserves the very best start in life and a quality education regardless of their background, where they live and their financial circumstances.

When I think about my home town of Stockton and the schools I have visited, I know that, along every corridor and in every classroom, there is infinite potential that must be backed and harnessed. I have great schools and amazing teachers, and we must back them—from Thornaby Academy, a Government-backed academy trust where kids are taught to reach for the stars and where the school is a place of aspiration and ambition, to Junction Farm Primary School, with its amazing standards and outstanding support for special educational needs that is second to none.

The Government’s plans will make sure that every pupil in every school gets a funding boost. Every secondary school will receive a minimum of £5,000 per pupil in 2021, and every primary school will be receiving £4,000 per pupil by 2021-22. By delivering a game-changing £14 billion investment, we can deliver a world-class education for all and a country in which it is not about where someone is from, but how hard they work and where they want to go.

During the pandemic, parents across the country have taken up the challenge of becoming DIY teachers, trying their best to support their children’s learning. I cannot imagine that many will have been able to replicate the experiences and enrichments that youngsters receive at school. Some parents will have been better placed to take on the challenge than others, and it is our job to ensure that no child is left behind or falls through the cracks because their parents found it difficult to support them with their school work.

For some youngsters, education provides a way up or a way out, and we cannot let them miss that; 2020 must not be the year when vulnerable youngsters were allowed to fall behind or lose their way. Instead, we should double down to ensure that it is a year of social mobility, when better support and greater investment meant that any child had the greatest chance of success. I welcome the £1 billion covid catch-up package to help schools provide additional support to all children as they return to school. Moreover, I am delighted to see £350 million going towards high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged children, accelerating their progress and, crucially, narrowing the educational attainment gap. I do not believe that closing the disadvantage gap can be achieved solely in the classroom, so it is right that the Government look more widely, and an extra £43 million for social care and disadvantage, if delivered efficiently and appropriately, can help turbocharge the trajectory of the most disadvantaged. I cannot tell Members how important an increase of 11.5% to help address children’s social care and special educational needs and disability will be for many in my constituency.

As we begin the bounce back from the pandemic, we must put the aspirations of young people at the heart of our mission to level up the country. We need this funding for schools to address both the challenges of coronavirus in the short term and investment in resources to help the children who need it most in the long term, supporting our teachers, backing our schools and unleashing the potential of every child. Let us ensure that this Government will be remembered for putting their money where their mouth is, with real investment in the next generation creating opportunity for all.

Oral Answers to Questions

Lee Anderson Excerpts
Monday 22nd June 2020

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Education
Miriam Cates Portrait Miriam Cates (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Con) - Hansard

What support his Department will provide to pupils to make up for time spent out of school as a result of the covid-19 lockdown. [903522]

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson (Ashfield) (Con) - Hansard

What support his Department will provide to pupils to make up for time spent out of school as a result of the covid-19 lockdown. [903528]

Gavin Williamson Portrait The Secretary of State for Education (Gavin Williamson) - Hansard

Before I begin, may I take this opportunity to express my deepest condolences to the family of James Furlong and the other victims of the terrorist attack in Reading? We have heard so many young people talk about the amazing impact James had on their lives, the real appreciation they felt and the loss that they now feel. Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this most terrible of tragedies. It was an appalling attack, and the Home Secretary will update the House later today.

We are focused on doing whatever we can to ensure that no child falls behind as a result of coronavirus. That is why this Government have announced a package of support worth £1 billion to tackle the impact of lost teaching time due to covid-19.

Break in Debate

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson - Hansard
22 Jun 2020, midnight

The best thing we can do for every child is to welcome them back to school at the earliest possible opportunity, when it is safe. I herald the wonderful work done by the Autism Education Trust, which the Department has decided to give extra funding and resource to this year, so that it can work with more teachers, helping them and training them to create the best environment to welcome all children back into school, where they can develop.

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson - Hansard

I have spoken to many headteachers across Ashfield who want to get back to full service as soon as possible. One way to begin to do that is to encourage all kids who can go back to school to do so, because it is safe. I deeply regret that last week, the Leader of the Opposition refused to say publicly that schools are safe to go back to. Will my right hon. Friend remind colleagues across the House that the education and welfare of our children come before any political point scoring?

Gavin Williamson Portrait Gavin Williamson - Hansard
22 Jun 2020, midnight

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. He will know from his constituency the real benefits that schools are bringing to the children who are going back, and we need to expand that. Schools are a safe environment not just for children, but for those who work in them. It is a shame the Leader of the Opposition does not acknowledge that, but I hope the shadow Secretary of State will acknowledge how important it is to get all children back and what a safe environment schools are.