SCHOOLS NorthEast Policy Officer, Christopher Hawkins, highlights the key questions asked yesterday by MPs to Secretary of State, Justine Greening.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner (Lab, Ashton-under-Lyne) argued that the public sector pay cap was making teacher recruitment more difficult. She referred to comments by former Education Minister Dan Poulter (Con, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich), who told the Guardian earlier this year that in his view there was a “strongly moral and financial case” for the 1% deal for teachers to be revisited at the autumn budget. Schools Minister Nick Gibb (Con, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton) responded that the Government was sticking to the recommendations of the School Teacher Review Body on pay.
Stephen Hammond (Con, Wimbledon) mentioned summer born children, calling for an acceleration of plans to allow parents to start children in reception when they choose to delay starting school until age 5. He said there was increasing frustration that the promised code of conduct has not yet been published. Nick Gibb responded that he shares the view that parents should have this freedom where it is in the best interests of the child. However, he added that this is a complex matter which needs to be correctly implemented to avoid unintended consequences, particularly on the early years sector.
Lilian Greenwood (Lab, Nottingham South) spoke of the need for long-term expansion of secondary school places in Nottingham. She questioned why her local authority has a duty to provide these places but little power to do so because all of the city’s 16 secondary schools are soon to become academies. She called for the Government to introduce greater requirements on academies to work with local authorities to plan provision instead of relying on free schools. Secretary of State Justine Greening (Con, Putney) said she recognised the importance of schools working with local authorities but said free schools do an excellent job.
Steve Double (Con, St Austell and Newquay) asked that sparsity be considered as a factor in the new National Funding Formula. The Secretary of State replied that she recognised the “unique” challenges faced by rural schools and was seeking to represent that in the Formula.
Yvette Cooper (Lab, Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) called for a review of Multi Academy Trusts following news that Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) is to pull out of running of 21 schools, just days into the new school year.
Vicky Foxcroft (Lab, Lewisham Deptford) asked the Secretary of State when the Green Paper on children’s’ mental health announced in January would be published. The Secretary of State responded that it would be available later this year and that the Government is working to expand the “single point of contact”
Fiona Bruce (Con, Congleton) called for the inclusion of advice on parental breakups in the new compulsory Sex and Relationships Education lessons in primary schools.