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 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Q
(Newcastle upon Tyne North)
[N]
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Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 18 March 2020
Department for Education
Assessments: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, if he will take steps to support exam boards that experience increases in requests for special consideration.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 27 March 2020

On 16 March, the Government announced that all exams due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer would be cancelled as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Department’s priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses or apprenticeships in the autumn. For GCSE, A and AS level students, we will make sure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-exam assessment that students have already completed. The qualifications regulator Ofqual is working urgently with the exam boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and more information will be provided as soon as possible. Given that exams will not be taking place, the normal special consideration arrangements will not apply to the awarding of grades this summer.

We recognise that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they haven’t been able to sit their exams. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam, once schools and colleges are open again. The existing special consideration arrangements will apply to any students who experience exceptional circumstances when sitting those exams: as we expect that many fewer students will be sitting the exams than in a normal exam series we are confident that the exam boards’ existing systems will be able to cope with the likely volume of such requests.

Grouped Questions: 31659
Q
Asked by Royston Smith
(Southampton, Itchen)
Asked on: 18 March 2020
Department for Education
Students: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has plans to provide support for disadvantaged students that may find it difficult to study at home during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 27 March 2020

The Department is ensuring that the most vulnerable children, including those who have a social worker or an Education, Health and Care Plan, are able to continue attending school during the COVID-19 outbreak, as school is a well-recognised protective factor.

We recognise that many schools have already started sharing resources for students who are at home and are grateful for this. We are working with the BBC and other partners to provide advice and support directly to schools, parents and carers including online resources parents can access for their children at home.

Q
Asked by Royston Smith
(Southampton, Itchen)
Asked on: 18 March 2020
Department for Education
Students: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to provide support for (a) GCSE and (b) A-Level students that are required to self-isolate as a result of having covid-19 symptoms.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 27 March 2020

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Department’s priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form, a job or an apprenticeship in the autumn. For GCSE, AS and A-level students, we will ensure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. A calculated grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. The qualifications regulator, Ofqual, is working urgently with examination boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and more information will be provided as soon as possible.

We recognise that many schools have already shared resources for children who are at home and are grateful for this.

The Department is working with the BBC and other partners to provide advice and support directly to parents, including online resources they can access for their children at home.

Q
(Hornsey and Wood Green)
Asked on: 18 March 2020
Department for Education
GCE A Level and GCSE: Assessments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she plans to take to ensure that young people can sit (a) GCSE and (b) A-level examinations following the closing of schools.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 27 March 2020

On 16 March, the Government announced that all exams due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer would be cancelled as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Department’s priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses or apprenticeships in the autumn. For GCSE, A and AS level students, we will make sure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-exam assessment that students have already completed. The qualifications regulator Ofqual is working urgently with the exam boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and more information will be provided as soon as possible. Given that exams will not be taking place, the normal special consideration arrangements will not apply to the awarding of grades this summer.

We recognise that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they haven’t been able to sit their exams. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam, once schools and colleges are open again. The existing special consideration arrangements will apply to any students who experience exceptional circumstances when sitting those exams: as we expect that many fewer students will be sitting the exams than in a normal exam series we are confident that the exam boards’ existing systems will be able to cope with the likely volume of such requests.

Grouped Questions: 31512
Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 19 March 2020
Department for Education
Homework
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will issue guidance to schools on the setting of homework by teachers after the schools shut on Friday 20 March 2020.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 27 March 2020

We recognise that many schools have already shared resources for children who are at home.

The Department is working with the BBC and other partners to provide advice and support directly to parents, including online resources they can access for their children at home.

Grouped Questions: 32152
Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 19 March 2020
Department for Education
Homework: Computer Software
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will issue guidance to schools on the use of school homework apps to enable pupils to study during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 27 March 2020

We recognise that many schools have already shared resources for children who are at home.

The Department is working with the BBC and other partners to provide advice and support directly to parents, including online resources they can access for their children at home.

Grouped Questions: 32151
Q
Asked by Dr Luke Evans
(Bosworth)
Asked on: 19 March 2020
Department for Education
GCE A-Level and GCSE: Assessments
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that arrangements for Summer 2020 GCSE and A Level examinations are communicated to parents, pupils and schools.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 27 March 2020

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Department’s priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses, jobs or apprenticeships, in the autumn. For GCSE, AS and A-level students, we will ensure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a calculated grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. Ofqual, the qualifications regulator is working urgently with examination boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and more information will be provided as soon as possible.

The Department recognises that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they have not been able to sit their examinations. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an examination, as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the new academic year. Students will also have the option to sit their examinations in summer 2021.

This information was published on GOV.UK and was communicated directly to all schools and colleges, and further information will be communicated via the same channels as it becomes available. We expect schools and colleges to ensure that all students and parents are aware of all relevant information.

Q
Asked by Tulip Siddiq
(Hampstead and Kilburn)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 12 March 2020
Department for Education
Pre-school Education: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support the Government plans to make available to nursery schools in England to manage the effects of covid-19.
A
Answered by: Vicky Ford
Answered on: 26 March 2020

Childcare providers are making a vital contribution in our fight against Covid-19. The Department for Education has confirmed that it will not claw back funding from local authorities for any periods of closures where settings are closed on medical advice or if children are not able to attend due to Covid-19. The government expects local authorities to follow the department’s position, and continue early years entitlements funding for childminders, pre-schools and nurseries. This should also apply to those infant and primary schools that deliver the early years entitlements. This will minimise short-term disruptions to early years providers’ finances and allow the system to recover more quickly.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a package of support for businesses that will include many early years and childcare providers. This includes business rates relief, a range of loans and grants and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that for employees who are not working but kept on payroll, the government will contribute 80% of each worker’s wages of up to £2,500, backdated to 1 March 2020. Providers can access this scheme while continuing to be paid the early entitlements funding via local authorities.

The department continues to work alongside Public Health England and with early years sector representatives to ensure that measures taken are in the best interests of the health of our nation whilst minimising the impact on individual childcare settings.

The latest guidance for schools and other educational settings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

Grouped Questions: 30181
Q
Asked by Marco Longhi
(Dudley North)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Education
Schools: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking with the Department for Health and Social Care to prevent the spread of covid-19 amongst vulnerable students in schools.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 26 March 2020

COVID-19 is clearly an unprecedented situation and preventing its spread is the Government’s and Department’s highest priority.

We are working closely with colleagues across Government to ensure that all appropriate arrangements, and support, are in place for all Department for Education sectors – from the early years and childcare to schools and children’s social care, and for vulnerable groups including children with long-term medical conditions.

Schools should continue to support their pupils’ health needs and should follow Public Health England advice at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public.

Q
Asked by Damien Moore
(Southport)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Education
Nurseries: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to provide financial support to private nurseries in the event that they are required to close during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Vicky Ford
Answered on: 26 March 2020

Childcare providers are making a vital contribution in our fight against Covid-19. The Department for Education has confirmed that it will not claw back funding from local authorities for any periods of closures where settings are closed on medical advice or if children are not able to attend due to Covid-19. The government expects local authorities to follow the department’s position, and continue early years entitlements funding for childminders, pre-schools and nurseries. This should also apply to those infant and primary schools that deliver the early years entitlements. This will minimise short-term disruptions to early years providers’ finances and allow the system to recover more quickly.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a package of support for businesses that will include many early years and childcare providers. This includes business rates relief, a range of loans and grants and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that for employees who are not working but kept on payroll, the government will contribute 80% of each worker’s wages of up to £2,500, backdated to 1 March 2020. Providers can access this scheme while continuing to be paid the early entitlements funding via local authorities.

The department continues to work alongside Public Health England and with early years sector representatives to ensure that measures taken are in the best interests of the health of our nation whilst minimising the impact on individual childcare settings.

The latest guidance for schools and other educational settings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

Grouped Questions: 28679
Q
(Huddersfield)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 18 March 2020
Department for Education
Students: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has issued to (a) international and (b) British students on the covid-19 outbreak and the disruption that outbreak has caused to tuition.
A
Answered by: Michelle Donelan
Answered on: 26 March 2020
Holding answer received on 23 March 2020

The department is acutely aware of the stress and anxiety the current climate will be causing all students – international and British alike. This is why we have been doing all we can to ensure students, both in the UK and overseas, have as much information as possible to help them make informed decisions at this challenging time.

Health advice for both international and British students in the UK is the same; they should continue to monitor Public Health England guidance, and adhere to the latest social distancing guidance for recommendations on how to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Many universities and other higher education providers are already taking necessary steps to keep their staff and students safe and, where possible, continue providing education. For many students, this now means avoiding face-to-face tuition and participating in online learning instead – we understand that the majority of universities have now moved learning online, with others following suit.

If international students have specific questions about their visa status, the Home Office has established a dedicated Coronavirus Immigration helpline: 0800 678 1767.

Q
(Birmingham, Edgbaston)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 18 March 2020
Department for Education
Children: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential adequacy of the support available to vulnerable children in the event that schools close as a result of covid-19.
A
Answered by: Vicky Ford
Answered on: 26 March 2020
Holding answer received on 23 March 2020

Supporting vulnerable children is a priority at this time. That is why, on Wednesday 18 March, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education announced that schools will remain open for vulnerable children alongside the children of critical workers. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with education, health and care plans. Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining provision for vulnerable children can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people.

We recognise that local authorities and other safeguarding partners are under increased pressure during this period. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are considering all options to ensure that they are able to continue to keep children safe throughout this period. This includes HM Treasury creating an emergency response fund, initially set at £5 billion, to fund pressures in the NHS, support local authorities to manage pressures on social care and support vulnerable people, and help deal with pressures on other public services.

Special and special residential schools and colleges should be supported to remain open, wherever that is possible, to provide vital services and support to children with complex needs and their families.

Q
(Wallasey)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 19 March 2020
Department for Education
Special Educational Needs: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to make provisions for children who have a special educational need but have not yet received a formal diagnosis to continue attending school.
A
Answered by: Vicky Ford
Answered on: 26 March 2020

COVID-19 is clearly an unprecedented situation and the department’s highest priority.

We are working closely with colleagues across government to ensure that all appropriate arrangements, and support, are in place for all of the department’s sectors – from early years and childcare to schools and children’s social care, and for vulnerable groups including children with special educational needs.

We understand that parents will be worried about continued provision for their children with special educational needs when schools closed on Friday 20 March. Local authorities, schools and colleges, together with parents, should assess the risks to children and young people with Education, Health and Care plans (EHC plans) to judge whether they can be safely cared for at home or whether it is safer for them to remain at school or college. Local authorities and education settings have discretion to do a similar risk assessment for any individual children and young people who do not have an EHC plan but who have complex needs that could mean it is safer for them to be at school or college than at home. Guidance to help parents understand the changes, including information on vulnerable children can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers.

The government has also published guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision.

Q
Asked by Robert Largan
(High Peak)
Asked on: 13 March 2020
Department for Education
Schools: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding his Department has allocated to schools in High Peak constituency in each financial year since 2009-10.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 25 March 2020

The revenue funding allocated for schools for financial years 2009-2010 to 2019-2020 for Derbyshire local authority (LA) is shown in the table below. Schools funding is not allocated to parliamentary constituencies.

Financial Year

Derbyshire LA (£ millions)

2009-10

484.8

2010-11

502.1

2011-12

500.1

2012-13

504.6

2013-14

535.5

2014-15

551.4

2015-16

566.3

2016-17

566.2

2017-18

576.6

2018-19

593.7

2019-20

620.3

Q
(Portsmouth South)
Asked on: 16 March 2020
Department for Education
Asylum: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities place unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in regulated care homes.
A
Answered by: Vicky Ford
Answered on: 25 March 2020

Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that they meet the needs of their looked-after children, including unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and they must ensure that care placements facilitate this.

Each care placement must consider the individual needs of the child and local authorities must have flexibility meeting those needs.

The department recognises the benefits of placing UASC in family-based environments whenever possible. The Safeguarding Strategy for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking and Refugee Children commits us to developing resources to support recruitment of supported lodging hosts as a form of semi-independent accommodation.

While there is a place for independent and semi-independent provision in the care system, it is clear that reform is needed to ensure it is being used appropriately and meets the needs of the young people placed there. The department is moving to take action on these issues and has launched a consultation on reforms to the use of independent and semi-independent provision. The consultation covers proposals including banning the placement of children under-16 in this provision and introducing new mandatory quality standards for provision.

Q
Asked by Paul Maynard
(Blackpool North and Cleveleys)
Asked on: 17 March 2020
Department for Education
Academic Year and Free School Meals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department received a bid from Blackpool Council for the summer 2020 bidding round of the Holiday Activities and Food scheme.
A
Answered by: Vicky Ford
Answered on: 25 March 2020

A bid for funding for the 2020 Holiday Activities and Food programme was submitted by Blackpool Council.

We are now in the process of negotiating grant agreements with the successful bidders and we will announce the successful and unsuccessful areas publicly in due course.

Q
(Stoke-on-Trent North)
Asked on: 17 March 2020
Department for Education
Free Schools: Stoke-on-Trent North
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the need for a free school in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke as a result of local secondary schools being over capacity.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 25 March 2020

Currently, the Department has not received any applications for a free school in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke.

The Department has received two applications in the current application wave (wave 14) for new secondary schools elsewhere in Stoke-on-Trent local authority.

In addition, we will welcome applications from all areas where there is a need for good quality school places in future free school application waves. The timing of those waves will be confirmed in due course.

Q
(Stoke-on-Trent North)
Asked on: 17 March 2020
Department for Education
Teachers: Violence and Abuse
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps his Department has taken to protect teachers from physical and verbal abuse in the course of their work.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 25 March 2020

Good behaviour in school is crucial if children are to learn and reach their full potential. As well as delivering excellent teaching, schools should be calm, safe and disciplined environments free from the low-level disruption that prevents pupils from learning. All schools are required by law to have a behaviour policy which outlines measures to encourage good behaviour, and the sanctions that will be imposed for misbehaviour. This should be communicated to all pupils, school staff and parents. Behaviour is a key element against which schools are assessed during Ofsted inspections.

Abuse of any kind is unacceptable, and this includes abuse of staff, whether by pupils, parents or colleagues. Schools have a duty of care to their staff and should address and resolve issues of abuse that teachers face. If teachers feel they have been subjected to abuse, they should report it to their employer and if necessary the police.

The Department is committed to backing heads and teachers to enforce discipline, and we have given teachers a range of powers to promote good behaviour and discipline misbehaviour. We have extended teachers’ searching powers and have allowed them to impose same day detentions. We have also made clear that teachers can use reasonable force where appropriate.

Q
(Rother Valley)
Asked on: 17 March 2020
Department for Education
Sixth Form Education: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for sixth form students.
A
Answered by: Gillian Keegan
Answered on: 25 March 2020

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families on 28 January 2020 to 5550.

Q
(Rother Valley)
Asked on: 17 March 2020
Department for Education
Educational Institutions: Hygiene
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) schools and (b) other educational establishments have adequate access to (i) soap and (ii) hand sanitiser.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 25 March 2020

The Department for Education is working with Public Sector Buying Organisations and the Crown Commercial Service to understand and try to address supply chain issues. At this time, the supply chain has flagged that for some products there are reduced volume deliveries and less frequent deliveries which means some items may be rationed. They are seeking to find alternatives to any products which are out of stock.

Grouped Questions: 30869
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