Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Asked on: 08 March 2018
Department for Education
Schools: Labour Turnover
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of the public sector pay cap on the recruitment and retention of staff in schools.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 27 March 2018

The public sector pay cap is no longer in place and we are now adopting a more flexible approach. Research suggests that pay is not the main driver of teachers leaving the profession, and teachers tend not to leave for better paid jobs.

The average salary of classroom teachers aged between 21-30 is £27,000 compared to an average salary of £25,000 for all 21-30 year old graduates. The employer contribution to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme on behalf of the teaching staff average 16.4%, a significant benefit that should be taken into account when considering the overall remuneration available to teachers.

The remit letter to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), stated that the STRB should utilise this flexibility to target the next pay award to promote recruitment and retention.

The fundamental changes to teachers’ pay that have been introduced over the last four years, following the STRB’s recommendations, have given greater autonomy to schools to decide how to reward their staff. This increased flexibility helps schools to attract and retain the best teachers.

Q
Asked by Lord Shinkwin
Asked on: 13 March 2018
Department for Education
Special Educational Needs: Inspections
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions the Department for Education has had with the Department of Health and Social Care about the findings of the Ofsted and CQC report Local area SEND inspections: one year on, published on 18 October 2017, particularly in respect of the finding that access to therapy services was weak in half the local areas inspected.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 27 March 2018

Officials from the Department for Education (DfE), Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England (NHSE) are working together closely to implement the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) reforms underpinned by the Children and Families Act 2014.

We are addressing the finding on access to therapy services through follow up by DfE and NHSE officials with the individual local areas following the publication of an inspection report. This is particularly the case where Ofsted and CQC have required a local area to produce a written statement of action to address weaknesses.

We are about to launch a two-year national trial looking at extending the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) to make non-binding recommendations on the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. Currently the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) hears appeals with regard to education only. Health and social care aspects of EHC plans are resolved through separate complaint routes. The trial will give the Tribunal the power to consider all parts of a child’s EHC plan. We are trialling this (following an earlier small-scale pilot) as we need to gather further evidence to understand whether the new appeal route is easier for families, the impact on health and social care and whether recommendations are followed. These new powers will apply to local authority decisions made and EHC plans issued or amended from 3 April 2018.

We are working with stakeholders, which include DHSC and NHSE, through the Children’s Complex Needs board and across the Transforming Care programme to assure better support across health and care services for children and young people

Finally, the green paper, ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision’, set out our proposals on how to improve access to mental health support for children and young people including those with SEND.

Q
Asked by Lord Shinkwin
Asked on: 13 March 2018
Department for Education
Education: Social Mobility
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government with which professional bodies and third sector bodies they had discussions in developing their plan for improving social mobility through education Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential, published in December 2017.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 27 March 2018

The department engaged a wide range of organisations during development of ‘Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential’. This included think tanks, academics, sector bodies such as teaching unions and other representative groups, employers and children’s charities. Through meetings and roundtables, we discussed the department’s cross-cutting ambitions to improve opportunity across life stages and the country, as well as individual policies within the document.

‘Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential’ was warmly received by key stakeholders including the Education Endowment Foundation, the Sutton Trust, Teach First, the Careers and Enterprise Company, the National Association of Head Teachers, the Association of Colleges, Universities UK, and the Consortium of Business and Industry.

Q
Asked by Lord Shinkwin
Asked on: 13 March 2018
Department for Education
Special Educational Needs
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the proposed composition of the national leadership board for children and young people with high needs set out in the green paper Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 27 March 2018

One of the key recommendations of the independent review of special residential schools and colleges, Good Intentions, Good Enough?, was for a new National Leadership Board for children and young people with high needs, reporting to my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families. We have invited Dame Christine Lenehan and Mark Geraghty, who conducted the review, to sit on the board; and will confirm the other members in due course.

Q
Asked by Lord Lucas
Asked on: 12 March 2018
Department for Education
Pupils: Walking
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government which primary schools have used their PE and Sport Premium to successfully encourage substantially more children to walk to school.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 26 March 2018

The information requested is not held centrally.

Through the primary PE and sport premium, the government has invested over £600 million of cross-government ring-fenced funding direct to primary schools to be spent on the improvement of PE and sport for all pupils. The government has doubled the premium to £320 million a year from September 2017 using revenue from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Head teachers have the freedom to decide how the funding should best be used to improve their PE and sports. The department’s guidance to schools on the use of the premium indicates that they can use it to embed physical activity into the school day through active travel to and from school. Schools need to publish how they spend the funding and report the impact on their website by 4 April 2018.

National Walk to School Week takes place from 21-25 May, and the department expects schools will use this opportunity to further promote active lifestyles outside of school.

Asked on: 12 March 2018
Department for Education
First4Adoption
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the statutory provision of adoption of the closure of First4Adoption on 31 March; and how they plan to fund adoption services thereafter.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 26 March 2018

First4Adoption has operated under the department’s National Gateway for Adoption contract since its launch in 2012. The contract ends on 31 March 2018.

First4Adoption is an information service for prospective adopters. The government does not expect the contract’s end to impact the statutory provision of adoption. The department intends to ensure that materials developed under the contract remain accessible and free to access so that prospective adopters can still benefit from this information.

Local authorities, Regional Adoption Agencies (RAAs) and Voluntary Adoption Agencies will continue to provide further advice and information to prospective adopters.

The government funds local authority children’s services, including adoption, through the local government finance settlement. In addition, the government continues to invest in adoption through the development of RAAs, the funding of 16 new Practice Improvement Fund projects and the Adoption Support Fund, which has provided more than £66 million to support thousands of families since launching in May 2015.

Asked on: 08 March 2018
Department for Education
Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all schools teach awareness of violence against women and girls.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 23 March 2018

The government is ensuring young people have the knowledge to challenge attitudes about abuse and consent. This year the Home Office is delivering a third phase of their acclaimed teen abuse campaign “Disrespect NoBody”. The campaign, which originally launched in February 2016, aims to prevent the onset of domestic violence in adults by challenging attitudes and behaviours amongst teenage boys and girls. The campaign is targeted at 12 to 18 year old boys and girls and aims to prevent them from becoming perpetrators and victims of abusive relationships.

The Department for Education is currently considering how best to ensure pupils are taught about healthy and respectful relationships as part of Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in secondary schools. We have issued a call for evidence, on the scope and content of Relationships Education and RSE and on the future status of Personal, Social, Health and Economic education. We are currently considering the responses, of which we have received over 23,000, and representations arising through the engagement process. Later this year we plan to consult on draft regulations and guidance before laying regulations in the House for debate.

Schools and colleges are already required to have regard to the statutory safeguarding guidance ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. KCSIE reflects current best practice in safeguarding and sets out that the best interests of the child should always come first.

Q
Asked by Lord Ouseley
Asked on: 05 March 2018
Department for Education
Secondary Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there has been any reduction in the number of (1) teachers, and (2) teaching assistants, in the secondary school sector in England since 2015; if so, by how many; and what assessment they have made of the impact of any such reductions on children's future education.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 March 2018

Information on the number of teachers and support staff in secondary schools is provided in the School workforce in England statistical first release. This is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2016.

Year

Full-time equivalent numbers in state funded secondary schools, November each year

Teachers

Teaching assistant

20001

194,300

12,500

20112

215,200

52,800

20152

210,900

52,300

20162

208,200

50,100

1. Source - Form 618g. Figures are as at January 2000.

2. Source - Figures are taken from the School Workforce Census and are as at November.

In June 2018 the data for November 2017 is expected to be published.

The department makes an annual assessment of the need for new teachers through the Teacher Supply Model. The model makes use of the latest available data on the school workforce, projected growth in pupil numbers and policy changes.

Asked on: 08 March 2018
Department for Education
Free School Meals
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 7 March (HL5702), what is their estimate of the annual saving to HM Treasury from the changes to eligibility criteria for free school meals set out in the Free School Lunches and Milk, and School and Early Years Finance (Amendments Relating to Universal Credit) (England) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/148).
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 March 2018

The new criteria for free school meals (FSM) will not result in savings. The department estimates that by 2022, around 50,000 more children will benefit from FSM compared to the previous benefits system, and this figure does not include children who will have their eligibility protected.

Any child entitled for FSM today where his or her parent(s) are in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) would remain eligible for FSM until the end of UC rollout, and after this point (if they are still in school) until the end of their phase of education.

Asked on: 08 March 2018
Department for Education
First4Adoption
Lords
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.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 March 2018

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.

Asked on: 08 March 2018
Department for Education
Apprentices: Taxation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of trends in apprenticeship starts since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 March 2018

There have been over 1.2 million apprenticeship starts since May 2015 and we want to achieve three million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020. We have published progress on numbers of apprenticeships starts within the department’s further education and skills statistical first release. The first quarterly release for the 2017/18 academic year is attached.

The previous year has seen significant changes for employers. We continue to work with employers to adjust and refine the levy. Employers have two years to spend their levy funds, and feedback shows that they are taking their time to plan high quality apprenticeship training that meets their specific needs.

Our reforms put quality at the heart of the apprenticeship programme and increase investment and engagement in training employers’ workforces for the future.

Asked on: 08 March 2018
Department for Education
Foster Care
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the provision of foster placements.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 22 March 2018

An independent review of fostering, commissioned by the department, and published in January 2018, made a number of recommendations on how to improve provision of foster parents. The Education Select Committee, in their report published in December last year, also made recommendations. Both reports are attached.

The government is carefully considering the recommendations of these reports, and will publish responses to both in the spring.

Foster Care in England Review (PDF Document, 1.65 MB)
House of Commons Fostering Report (PDF Document, 832.57 KB)
Asked on: 07 March 2018
Department for Education
Higher Education: Equality
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) direction, and (2) guidance, they have given to the Office for Students on improving gender and ethnic diversity in the leadership of Russell Group higher education institutions.
Answered on: 21 March 2018

Autonomous higher education providers, including Russell Group members, are responsible for their own decisions about leadership appointments. Institutional autonomy is explicitly recognised in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 and is specifically defined to include the freedom of providers to determine the criteria for selecting, appointing or dismissing academic staff. The Act is clear that both the Office for Students (OfS) (when carrying out its functions) and the Secretary of State (when issuing statutory guidance to the OfS) must have regard to the need to protect this institutional autonomy.

The government and the OfS both remain interested in areas related to equality and diversity in higher education. We consulted on behalf of the OfS on making arrangements for the publication of data on senior staff remuneration, including in relation to gender and ethnicity. The OfS retains the power to require the disclosure of such information through its accounts direction.

The government asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the predecessor of OfS, to remind HEFCE-funded providers of their obligations under the gender pay gap reporting requirements. HEFCE wrote to these providers on 10 January 2018. HEFCE have also jointly commissioned a project that aims to equalise the gender balance and ethnic diversity of higher education governing bodies. This work will include establishing an online exchange to recruit board members.

In addition, we note initiatives across the sector, including at Russell Group institutions, to support women and those from black and minority ethnic groups who aspire to leadership positions in higher education.

Q
Asked by Lord Taverne
Asked on: 08 March 2018
Department for Education
Faith Schools: Admissions
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the poll conducted by Populus showing that 67 per cent of Catholics, 71 per cent of Christians overall, and 60 per cent of the public as a whole, support keeping the 50 per cent cap on faith-based admissions to religious schools, (2) figures set out in the official 2016 schools census showing that Church of England and other Christian free schools subject to that cap take more then three times as many pupils from Asian backgrounds as Church of England and other Christian schools that select all their places on religious grounds, (3) the extent to which Catholic state schools in England select all their places on the basis of religion, and (4) whether new Catholic schools can be opened when that cap is in place; and whether they intend to review their policy of abolishing that cap.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 21 March 2018

The department will consider a range of evidence, including opinion polls and official statistics, as part of the process for deciding how to take forward the proposals contained in the ‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation including in relation to the 50% cap on faith admissions.

The department does not collect information about the level of use of faith oversubscription criteria in any school.

The department is considering proposals on the future of the 50% cap and will respond in due course.

Q
Asked by Jon Trickett
(Hemsworth)
Asked on: 13 March 2018
Department for Education
Department for Education: Buildings
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of his Department's estate is (a) rented, (b) owned and (c) occupied through any other type of agreement.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 21 March 2018

The proportion of the Department for Education’s estate that is (a) rented, (b) owned and (c) occupied through any other type of agreement is detailed in the table below.

Rented

%

Owned

%

Occupied through any other type of agreement

%

Total

117

48.5

100

41.5

24

10.0

241

Q
Asked by Alex Sobel
(Leeds North West)
Asked on: 13 March 2018
Department for Education
Free School Meals: Northern Ireland
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reasons Northern Ireland is not included in the Government's plans to increase the threshold for free school meals for universal credit claimants.
A
Answered by: Nadhim Zahawi
Answered on: 21 March 2018

Education policy is fully devolved in Northern Ireland, and it is for Northern Ireland to decide which of their pupils should be eligible for free school meals.

In April 2017, the Northern Ireland Executive, prior to its suspension, launched a consultation on eligibility for free school meals under universal credit. This new criterion was then introduced with effect from 27 September 2017.

Similarly, Scotland and Wales are not included in the threshold for free school meals – as again education policy is devolved. Scotland set their threshold lower than we set in England – and the threshold was passed without debate or opposition in the Scottish parliament.

Q
(Worthing West)
Asked on: 13 March 2018
Department for Education
Adult Education: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the devolution of the adult education budget on the development of literacy, numeracy and digital skills.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 21 March 2018

By devolving the Adult Education Budget to Mayoral Combined Authorities, local areas will be able to shape the delivery of skills for the benefit of their residents. To make sure that there is a quality and consistent offer throughout, the department will continue to specify which qualifications will be eligible for full funding through the English, mathematics and digital statutory duties.

Q
(Worthing West)
Asked on: 13 March 2018
Department for Education
Workers Educational Association
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what public funding has been provided to the Workers Educational Association in each of the last three years; and what plans the Government has to fund the Workers Educational Association in the future.
A
Answered by: Anne Milton
Answered on: 21 March 2018

The table attached shows the amount funding paid by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to the Workers Educational Association for the past three funding years (from August to July).

The Workers Educational Association are in scope to receive an allocation and will be notified of the amount of funding available to them shortly.

For 2018 to 2019, the ESFA will continue to allocate the Adult Education Budget (AEB).

From 2019 to 2020, responsibility for the AEB will be devolved to eight Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and the Greater London Authority.

Once authorities take on the role they will, within the agreed conditions of their devolution deal, be responsible for commissioning AEB provision in their local areas, having the freedom to set their own priorities, whilst still being subject to the statutory duties of my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State. This will allow them to focus on meeting local area need and delivering local economic objectives.

The ESFA will continue to allocate funding to providers that do not deliver in the devolved areas.

Table (Word Document, 24.06 KB)
Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 13 March 2018
Department for Education
Degrees: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the rating of degree courses as gold, silver or bronze will also apply to those private colleges offering higher education degrees.
Answered on: 21 March 2018

Private colleges offering higher education degrees can participate in the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) if they meet the eligibility requirements. From the 2019-20 academic year, TEF will be a condition of registration for providers with more than 500 students on higher education courses. Smaller providers, for whom the cost of participation might be disproportionate, may participate on a voluntary basis if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Grouped Questions: HL6386
Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 13 March 2018
Department for Education
Degrees: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the rating of degree courses as gold, silver or bronze will apply to overseas universities established by UK universities.
Answered on: 21 March 2018

The delivery of UK ratings or awards to overseas campuses of UK providers is outside the scope of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF), as set out in the attached TEF specification.

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