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 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Education
Overseas Students: Entry Clearances
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many international students with Tier 4 visas gained qualifications in the last academic year for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 26 September 2017

We do not hold information on how many students with a Tier 4 visa gain qualifications each year.

However, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) collects data on those gaining HE qualifications by country of domicile. This shows that in the academic year 2015/16 there were just over 150,000 higher education qualifications obtained at UK Higher Education Institutions by students living in non-EU countries immediately prior to them commencing their studies. Not all these students would have required Tier 4 visas to study in the UK.

Asked on: 14 September 2017
Department for Education
T-levels
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in developing T-level qualifications.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 26 September 2017

The government is creating a world class technical education system. The best way to deliver this successfully is through partnership between government, business experts and leaders and education professionals. We are therefore working closely with these stakeholders and their representative bodies to ensure we get these reforms right.

T levels will be shaped by industry professionals and will provide stretching technical content, delivered to industry standards. This will ensure the qualifications have real labour market value and credibility. The first teaching of T levels by a number of providers will commence in September 2020, with all routes available from September 2022.

We are planning a public consultation on the design of T levels, to allow all interested organisations and individuals to contribute towards the development of the new programmes. We will provide an update on progress with the development of T levels later this year.

Asked on: 14 September 2017
Department for Education
T-levels
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government who is developing T-level qualifications; in what subjects; and at what levels.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 26 September 2017

The government is creating a world class technical education system. The best way to deliver this successfully is through partnership between government, business experts and leaders and education professionals. We are therefore working closely with these stakeholders and their representative bodies to ensure we get these reforms right.

T levels will be shaped by industry professionals and will provide stretching technical content, delivered to industry standards. This will ensure the qualifications have real labour market value and credibility. The first teaching of T levels by a number of providers will commence in September 2020, with all routes available from September 2022.

We are planning a public consultation on the design of T levels, to allow all interested organisations and individuals to contribute towards the development of the new programmes. We will provide an update on progress with the development of T levels later this year.

Asked on: 14 September 2017
Department for Education
T-levels
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect T-level qualifications to be available to candidates.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 26 September 2017

The government is creating a world class technical education system. The best way to deliver this successfully is through partnership between government, business experts and leaders and education professionals. We are therefore working closely with these stakeholders and their representative bodies to ensure we get these reforms right.

T levels will be shaped by industry professionals and will provide stretching technical content, delivered to industry standards. This will ensure the qualifications have real labour market value and credibility. The first teaching of T levels by a number of providers will commence in September 2020, with all routes available from September 2022.

We are planning a public consultation on the design of T levels, to allow all interested organisations and individuals to contribute towards the development of the new programmes. We will provide an update on progress with the development of T levels later this year.

Q
Asked by Lord Jopling
Asked on: 06 September 2017
Department for Education
Higher Education: Standards
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Nash on 27 July (HL733) and 9 August (HL734), whether they will now answer the question and list those establishments which were eligible to apply to participate in the Teaching Excellence Framework, but which declined to join this voluntary process.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 19 September 2017

As we have previously stated, the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a voluntary process and the Government, therefore, does not keep a record of providers who have chosen not to participate.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England, who are responsible for delivering the TEF, have published a list of providers who received ratings on their website: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/tefoutcomes/.

Asked on: 11 September 2017
Department for Education
Schools: Uniforms
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they propose to put guidance on school uniform supply on a statutory basis as set out in the HM Treasury 2015 report A Better Deal.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 19 September 2017

Decisions on school uniform, including how this is sourced, are made by the governing body (or academy trust) of the school, but our existing guidance is clear that, when setting their uniform policies, schools should keep costs to a minimum and ensure the uniform is affordable for everyone.

The guidance also reminds schools of their obligation under Human Rights and Equalities legislation, as well as highlighting the legal requirement for schools to have a complaints process in place. Parents who have concerns about a school’s uniform policy can use this process to raise these with the school. If parents continue to have concerns, they can raise these with the Department.

We intend to put this guidance on a statutory footing when a suitable legislative opportunity arises.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Education
GCE A-level
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of recent leaks of A-Level examination questions, what measures they plan to put in place to restore public confidence; and what steps they are taking to ensure consistent sanctions against those who leak such information.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

This is a matter for the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) and I have asked its Chief Regulator, Sally Collier, to write directly to the noble Lord. A copy of her reply will be placed in the House of Lords Library.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Education
Grammar Schools
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that selective schools do not de-select students at the age of 16.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

Where schools admit external applicants into their sixth form, it is lawful for them to set minimum academic standards for entry. The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended also permits schools to remove pupils from the admission register who are above compulsory school age, if they do not meet the academic entry standards for the sixth form. The regulations do not permit their removal from the register for failure to maintain high academic attainment once they have entered the sixth form.

The Department’s statutory guidance: ‘Exclusion from maintained schools, Academies and pupil referral units in England’ explicitly states that, once a pupil is enrolled, it is unlawful to exclude for a non-disciplinary reason such as academic attainment or ability.

We expect all schools to adhere to these rules and we have recently written to them to remind them of their responsibilities.

Q
Asked by Lord Warner
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Education
Out-of-school Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of children being taught at unregistered schools; and what information and directions they have given to (1) local authorities, and (2) Ofsted, on this issue.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

National statistics on the number of children being taught at unregistered schools are not held centrally. However, we are working closely with Ofsted and local authorities to tackle this sector.

We have provided Ofsted with additional resources to root out and inspect those suspected of operating unlawfully and take action to bring them into compliance with the law. We have also been supporting local authorities to use their existing powers under safeguarding or health and safety legislation to disrupt and tackle both unsuitable out-of-school settings and unregistered independent schools.

Although we don’t track closures of unregistered schools, Ofsted’s Annual Report 2015/16: education, early years and skills, published on 1 December 2016, noted that from January 2016 to end August 2016 (the end of the period covered by the report), Ofsted inspected 38 such settings; Ofsted issued 19 warning notices telling proprietors to cease operating illegally; and 15 of those providers ceased to operate illegally following those inspections. Ofsted will publish its next annual report later this year.

The annual report can be accessed on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/574186/Ofsted_annual_report_education_and_skills_201516_web-ready.pdf.

It is a criminal offence for any person to operate an unregistered independent school and Ofsted has powers to inspect such settings. Anyone who is found to be conducting an independent school without registration is breaking the law and may be liable to prosecution. However, in most cases, collaborative working between Ofsted and local authorities has resulted in such settings voluntarily ceasing to operate unlawfully, which is verified by the figures highlighted in the Ofsted report referred to above.

As part of our ongoing work with Ofsted and local authorities we have been raising awareness on how we can all work together to help ensure that children are safe and are receiving a suitable education. We keep this under constant review.

The legislative framework for the child protection system in England is provided largely by the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. This sets out the overarching responsibility of local authorities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in their area, regardless of where they are educated. It is for local authorities to assess whether the threshold for intervention is met in the case of an individual child taking account of the impact and influence of environmental factors, such as attending an unregistered school. However, wherever local authorities have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, they are under a duty to investigate. Local authorities should make whatever enquiries necessary to decide what, if any, action to take to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare.

Q
Asked by Lord Warner
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Education
Out-of-school Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many unregistered schools have been closed in each of the last three years for which records are available.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

National statistics on the number of children being taught at unregistered schools are not held centrally. However, we are working closely with Ofsted and local authorities to tackle this sector.

We have provided Ofsted with additional resources to root out and inspect those suspected of operating unlawfully and take action to bring them into compliance with the law. We have also been supporting local authorities to use their existing powers under safeguarding or health and safety legislation to disrupt and tackle both unsuitable out-of-school settings and unregistered independent schools.

Although we don’t track closures of unregistered schools, Ofsted’s Annual Report 2015/16: education, early years and skills, published on 1 December 2016, noted that from January 2016 to end August 2016 (the end of the period covered by the report), Ofsted inspected 38 such settings; Ofsted issued 19 warning notices telling proprietors to cease operating illegally; and 15 of those providers ceased to operate illegally following those inspections. Ofsted will publish its next annual report later this year.

The annual report can be accessed on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/574186/Ofsted_annual_report_education_and_skills_201516_web-ready.pdf.

It is a criminal offence for any person to operate an unregistered independent school and Ofsted has powers to inspect such settings. Anyone who is found to be conducting an independent school without registration is breaking the law and may be liable to prosecution. However, in most cases, collaborative working between Ofsted and local authorities has resulted in such settings voluntarily ceasing to operate unlawfully, which is verified by the figures highlighted in the Ofsted report referred to above.

As part of our ongoing work with Ofsted and local authorities we have been raising awareness on how we can all work together to help ensure that children are safe and are receiving a suitable education. We keep this under constant review.

The legislative framework for the child protection system in England is provided largely by the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. This sets out the overarching responsibility of local authorities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in their area, regardless of where they are educated. It is for local authorities to assess whether the threshold for intervention is met in the case of an individual child taking account of the impact and influence of environmental factors, such as attending an unregistered school. However, wherever local authorities have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, they are under a duty to investigate. Local authorities should make whatever enquiries necessary to decide what, if any, action to take to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare.

Q
Asked by Lord Warner
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Education
Out-of-school Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what powers, (1) Ofsted, (2) local authorities, and (3) the Secretary of State, have to close unregistered schools; what representations they have received about the adequacy of such powers; and whether they have any plans to strengthen those powers.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

National statistics on the number of children being taught at unregistered schools are not held centrally. However, we are working closely with Ofsted and local authorities to tackle this sector.

We have provided Ofsted with additional resources to root out and inspect those suspected of operating unlawfully and take action to bring them into compliance with the law. We have also been supporting local authorities to use their existing powers under safeguarding or health and safety legislation to disrupt and tackle both unsuitable out-of-school settings and unregistered independent schools.

Although we don’t track closures of unregistered schools, Ofsted’s Annual Report 2015/16: education, early years and skills, published on 1 December 2016, noted that from January 2016 to end August 2016 (the end of the period covered by the report), Ofsted inspected 38 such settings; Ofsted issued 19 warning notices telling proprietors to cease operating illegally; and 15 of those providers ceased to operate illegally following those inspections. Ofsted will publish its next annual report later this year.

The annual report can be accessed on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/574186/Ofsted_annual_report_education_and_skills_201516_web-ready.pdf.

It is a criminal offence for any person to operate an unregistered independent school and Ofsted has powers to inspect such settings. Anyone who is found to be conducting an independent school without registration is breaking the law and may be liable to prosecution. However, in most cases, collaborative working between Ofsted and local authorities has resulted in such settings voluntarily ceasing to operate unlawfully, which is verified by the figures highlighted in the Ofsted report referred to above.

As part of our ongoing work with Ofsted and local authorities we have been raising awareness on how we can all work together to help ensure that children are safe and are receiving a suitable education. We keep this under constant review.

The legislative framework for the child protection system in England is provided largely by the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. This sets out the overarching responsibility of local authorities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in their area, regardless of where they are educated. It is for local authorities to assess whether the threshold for intervention is met in the case of an individual child taking account of the impact and influence of environmental factors, such as attending an unregistered school. However, wherever local authorities have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, they are under a duty to investigate. Local authorities should make whatever enquiries necessary to decide what, if any, action to take to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare.

Q
Asked by Lord Warner
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Education
Out-of-school Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they regard children attending unregistered schools to be children at risk and therefore subject to assessment under local authority child protection procedures.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

National statistics on the number of children being taught at unregistered schools are not held centrally. However, we are working closely with Ofsted and local authorities to tackle this sector.

We have provided Ofsted with additional resources to root out and inspect those suspected of operating unlawfully and take action to bring them into compliance with the law. We have also been supporting local authorities to use their existing powers under safeguarding or health and safety legislation to disrupt and tackle both unsuitable out-of-school settings and unregistered independent schools.

Although we don’t track closures of unregistered schools, Ofsted’s Annual Report 2015/16: education, early years and skills, published on 1 December 2016, noted that from January 2016 to end August 2016 (the end of the period covered by the report), Ofsted inspected 38 such settings; Ofsted issued 19 warning notices telling proprietors to cease operating illegally; and 15 of those providers ceased to operate illegally following those inspections. Ofsted will publish its next annual report later this year.

The annual report can be accessed on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/574186/Ofsted_annual_report_education_and_skills_201516_web-ready.pdf.

It is a criminal offence for any person to operate an unregistered independent school and Ofsted has powers to inspect such settings. Anyone who is found to be conducting an independent school without registration is breaking the law and may be liable to prosecution. However, in most cases, collaborative working between Ofsted and local authorities has resulted in such settings voluntarily ceasing to operate unlawfully, which is verified by the figures highlighted in the Ofsted report referred to above.

As part of our ongoing work with Ofsted and local authorities we have been raising awareness on how we can all work together to help ensure that children are safe and are receiving a suitable education. We keep this under constant review.

The legislative framework for the child protection system in England is provided largely by the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. This sets out the overarching responsibility of local authorities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in their area, regardless of where they are educated. It is for local authorities to assess whether the threshold for intervention is met in the case of an individual child taking account of the impact and influence of environmental factors, such as attending an unregistered school. However, wherever local authorities have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, they are under a duty to investigate. Local authorities should make whatever enquiries necessary to decide what, if any, action to take to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare.

Q
Asked on: 06 September 2017
Department for Education
Overseas Companies: Race Relations
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are planning to amend the Race Relations Act 1965 and subsequent related legislation to clarify the extent to which that legislation applies to the activities outside the UK of UK-based (1) companies, and (2) directors.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

The employment provisions of the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”), which supersedes previous equalities legislation, only apply to employer activities in Great Britain. Some activities outside Great Britain may also be in scope of the Act, if the employment relationship is found to have a strong connection with Great Britain. The Government has no plans to amend the Act in this respect.

Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Education
Vocational Education: Overseas Students
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (1) EU, and (2) non-EU, overseas students are taking technical, professional and vocational courses in the UK.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

The department does not collect data on the nationality of Further Education students.

Students will be eligible for Education and Skills Funding Agency funding if they are a citizen of a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) and have been resident in the EEA for at least three years prior to the start of learning and are ordinarily resident in England.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Education
Out-of-school Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will respond to the consultation on out-of-school education settings which closed in January 2016; and whether they propose to introduce provisions that would require such settings to (1) register, and (2) be subject to risk-based inspections.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

The Government published a Counter Extremism Strategy in 2015, which set out plans to introduce a new system of oversight for out-of-school education settings – such as supplementary schools, tuition centres and madrassahs. To learn more about these settings, and the potential scope and impact of any regulatory system, the department issued a call for evidence. We will make an announcement about the outcome in due course.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Education
Out-of-school Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact that requiring out-of-school settings to (1) register, and (2) be subject to risk-based inspections, would have on addressing the existence of illegal unregistered schools.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

The Government published a Counter Extremism Strategy in 2015, which set out plans to introduce a new system of oversight for out-of-school education settings – such as supplementary schools, tuition centres and madrassahs. To learn more about these settings, and the potential scope and impact of any regulatory system, the department issued a call for evidence. We will make an announcement about the outcome in due course.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 07 September 2017
Department for Education
Government Departments: Equal Pay
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government which government departments have not yet met the requirement to publish information about gender pay gaps between male and female employees.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 18 September 2017

All government departments listed in Schedule 2 to the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017 are required to publish this information if they have 250 or more employees, including staff working in executive agencies.

Q
Asked by Lord Ouseley
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Education
Offences against Children
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of concerns expressed by the NSPCC regarding the 60 per cent rise in reports of child neglect over the past five years.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 15 September 2017

The Department’s children in need annual census demonstrates an increase between 2011-12 and 2015-16 of 27% in the number of Child Protection Plans at 31 March with the initial category of neglect as the form of abuse (from 18,220 to 23,150). Over the same period there was an increase of

19 per cent in the number of children in need at 31 March with the primary need of ‘abuse or neglect’ (from 168,270 to 199,720), although this cannot be disaggregated to identify neglect needs only. These figures are in the context of general increases of 17 per cent with regard to Child Protection Plans at 31 March and 7 per cent with regard to children in need at 31 March.

We recognise the great importance of identifying hidden abuse, including in the form of neglect, and continue to fund the NSPCC to deliver the Childline service, with £8 million invested to 2020. We have also delivered a major communications campaign, Together, we can tackle child abuse, to raise awareness and encourage the members of the public to raise concerns. Through our wide-ranging reforms to children’s social care, we are working to ensure all forms of abuse, including neglect, are identified early, with timely and proportionate assessments of individual needs, and the right services provided at the right time to keep children safe.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Education
Children: Day Care
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that every child has access to 30 hours of free childcare.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 15 September 2017

All parents, of three- and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare per week, regardless of income and employment status, from 1st September, we have introduced an additional 15 hours of free childcare per week for working parents.

The department has invested an additional £1 billion per year by 2019-20 in the free entitlements, including over £300 million per year to increase the hourly funding rates paid for the early years entitlements. The Childcare Choices website provides parents with information about the government’s childcare offers in one place, as well as a childcare calculator to help parents decide what is best for their family circumstances. We also tested 30 hours in twelve early delivery areas, and are sharing the lessons from early delivery with local authorities and providers to support full rollout.

Local authorities play a central role in delivery of free early education, as they are required to secure sufficient childcare, as far as is reasonably practicable, in their area. We are working closely with local authorities and supporting them and providers through our delivery contractor Childcare Works, business sustainability support and £100m capital funding.

Q
Asked by Lord Storey
Asked on: 05 September 2017
Department for Education
Out-of-school Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their definition of an unregistered school; and how they ensure that safeguarding procedures are in place in those schools.
A
Answered by: Lord Nash
Answered on: 13 September 2017

An independent school is defined as any school at which full time education is provided for five or more pupils of compulsory school age, or one or more such pupils with an EHC plan or a statement of special educational needs or who is “looked after” by the local authority, and is not a school maintained by a local authority or a non-maintained special school.

Local authorities have overarching responsibility for safeguarding children and young people in their area, regardless of where they are being educated. We are supporting authorities to use their existing powers under safeguarding or health and safety legislation to disrupt and tackle both unsuitable out-of-school settings and unregistered independent schools. We also continue to work closely with Ofsted and the police to tackle such settings. In the great majority of cases that Ofsted has investigated, this collaboration has resulted in those settings complying with the law. Ofsted are continuing to investigate a small number of cases that have not yet complied.

The number of possible cases of unregistered independent schools that may be operating continues to fluctuate all the time, as new settings come to our attention and existing ones are closed down or are confirmed as not operating as schools. However, Ofsted’s Annual Report 2015/16: education, early years and skills, published on 1 December 2016, noted that at the time of publication, Ofsted was working on 152 possible cases that they suspected might be operating as unregistered schools. The report states that about a third of those settings were associated with particular faith groups. Ofsted will publish its next annual report later this year.

The 2016 annual report can be accessed on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/574186/Ofsted_annual_report_education_and_skills_201516_web-ready.pdf.

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