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Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:23 pm on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Mary Foy Mary Foy Labour, City of Durham 1:23 pm, 13th March 2020

I agree. T-levels are an extremely important part of our education system. They will be rolled out a lot more in the coming years. In fact, I was about to cover T-levels in the next part of my speech; the hon. Member read my mind.

As New College Durham will be one of the first colleges to provide T-levels from September, this is of vital importance to my constituents—I am sure it is to the hon. Member’s constituents, too, and to those all over the country. However, the legal safeguarding duty that protects T-level students will vary, depending on the provider that the student chooses. As MPs, we have a duty to ensure that safeguarding laws apply to all children equally. That is not currently the case. I ask hon. Members for their support to help me to fix this loophole in the law.

My Bill would correct the existing inconsistencies in safeguarding arrangements by extending the legal duty to cover all publicly funded providers of post-16 education. This will directly impose legal safeguarding on 16-to-19 academies, and make the Secretary of State for Education directly accountable for ensuring that all funding agreements with specialist post-16 institutions and independent providers include proper safeguarding duties. The Secretary of State will also be directly responsible for ensuring that funding agreements with apprenticeship and T-level providers include safeguarding duties. This is especially important, because there will be 113 new T-level providers over the next two years, but this expansion can only happen safely if the right safeguarding duties are in place.

These issues are not party political. Across England, the Bill will place safeguarding duties on an estimated 30 16-to-19 academies, 100 specialist post-16 providers and 1,000 independent providers. The Bill will help to ensure that all young people have the same safeguards and protections under the law.