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Educational Settings

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:25 pm on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education 5:25 pm, 18th March 2020

I am very grateful to the Deputy First Minister in Scotland for the discussions we have had and the work we have already started undertaking together, recognising that the issues and co-ordinating a response across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are incredibly important.

The hon. Gentleman raises the issue of the private nursery sector. We have established a working group with that sector and we have already been addressing key issues in making sure that it has confidence in the finance it is expecting to receive from Government—this will continue.

On free school meals, the hon. Gentleman raises the issue of direct payments from the Department for Work and Pensions. That is one of the things we are actively considering. We can do this either through that method or other methods that can be used to do it, but we would do it in consultation with the Scottish Government. On the issue of universities, we have a completely integrated system, where so many students from all four nations of the UK do not pause for a moment when they are thinking about where they may wish to go to university. We have had discussions with Universities UK about how best to deal with this. Part of the answers he and many others will be seeking we will not be able to give until we have a greater and clearer idea as to how this virus is going to pan out and how the actions we are taking are going to curtail it. But we are already in extensive discussions and looking at various ways of making sure that every child has the best opportunity of going on to the university of their choice.