Education: Accountability hearings.
Witnesses: Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State, Department for Education
Damian Hinds: Schools must provide a broad and balanced curriculum that prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.
Damian Hinds: In a wide-ranging question, as they say, the hon. Gentleman presents a number of different aspects, ranging from the World cup to T-levels. He is right about one thing, and that is the earlier children acquire skills and knowledge the better. That is why it is so important we have managed to narrow the attainment gap both in the early years and in primary school.
Damian Hinds: My hon. Friend raises a very important point about the construction sector, and of course we have considerable requirements because of the need to accelerate residential development. One of the first T-levels will be in construction, and we are working closely with the sector to bring that on.
Damian Hinds: The right hon. Gentleman is correct about the importance of the performing arts. In fact, the number of children taking a GCSE in arts subjects has not really moved very much, but we very much believe in a broad and balanced curriculum, with the breadth of opportunities he would want.
Damian Hinds: Where it does become necessary to re-broker an academy, as it does on occasions—my hon. Friend and I have had an opportunity to meet to discuss this—there is a bespoke approach to make sure that the settlement for the new arrangement with the new trust is sustainable.
Damian Hinds: We take the mental health of children and young people extremely seriously; hence the recent Green Paper and the whole programme of activity. To be fair, I do not think that the concept of exam stress is entirely a new one, and at this time of year there obviously is heightened stress among some young people. But the new GCSEs and A-levels have been designed and benchmarked against the...
Damian Hinds: I very much welcome that. It has been very encouraging to see how, particularly through the focus on the phonics programme, our young readers have improved in their reading so much, and that is reflected in those international comparisons.
Damian Hinds: There are of course two enormous programmes of benefit to FE colleges. First, there is the apprenticeships programme. Through the levy, the total funding for apprenticeships by the end of this decade will be double what it was at the beginning. The other programme—the hon. Member for Huddersfield and I touched on this briefly—is T-levels, which will bring another half a billion...
Damian Hinds: The crucial role of social workers should be recognised and celebrated. We are improving initial education standards and providing professional development. We have established an independent regulator, focusing on better standards.
Damian Hinds: My hon. Friend is right to emphasise the importance and challenge of that transition. Care leavers can access a personal adviser until they are 25. They can get a £2,000 bursary if they are in higher education, and a 16-to-19 bursary of up to £1,200 from the college if in further education. Care leavers aged 16 to 24 can receive a £1,000 bursary in the first year of an...
Damian Hinds: The hon. Lady is right to identify the importance of funding and resourcing for children’s social work. The spend on the most vulnerable children has been going up. There are some 35,000 child and family social workers and that number has increased a little between 2016 and 2017.
Damian Hinds: We have made good progress. We have announced the providers who will deliver the first three T-levels from 2020. We published the outline content for them, developed by panels of employers, and have begun the process to select an awarding organisation to develop them.
Damian Hinds: We have thus far selected a relatively small number of colleges to teach the first three T-levels from 2020. This is an ongoing programme and more T-levels and colleges will come on stream in the years to come. We expect to launch the process to select providers for 2021 early in 2019.
Damian Hinds: Eventually, as per the Sainsbury report, we will be looking right across industry and the requirements for technical and vocational education and training. We are looking at the combination of T-levels and apprenticeships to deliver learning across those routes. These are just the first three for 2020 and there will be a further 12 to come very soon.
Damian Hinds: Industrial placements are at the heart of the T-levels programme. We are investing £5 million in the National Apprenticeship Service to make sure that it can be a one-stop shop. We have published “How to” guidance for employers, and we continue to work closely with bodies such as the Federation of Small Businesses and small employers themselves to establish the support that...
Damian Hinds: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for laying out his acceptance criteria for my response. The simple point is that we are working hard from now, not starting in 2020, to build up the availability of industrial placements, because they are such an important part of the programme.
Damian Hinds: We think the quality requirements for apprenticeships are absolutely central, and that includes the 20% off-the-job training requirement, as well as the minimum 12-month length. We should also bear it in mind that over the last few years there has been further strengthening of the overall employment market, so today the proportion of young people who are unemployed and not in full-time...
Damian Hinds: Dear oh dear! Gordon! I do not quite know where to go with that question, because I do not recognise its premise. I spend a great deal of time talking to employers, providers and others throughout the sector about this programme, and if the hon. Gentleman consults the Sainsbury report, he will see the overall blueprint. It is absolutely clear where T-levels fit in with the overall skills...