Education: Standards

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th July 2020.

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Photo of Ian Lavery Ian Lavery Labour, Wansbeck

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the educational attainment gap in (a) Wansbeck and (b) other local education authorities when compared with higher educational attainment in London.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Standards are rising in England’s schools, to the benefit of all pupils. Compared with 2010, more pupils are taking core academic GCSEs - those subjects considered essential for many degrees that also provide a sound basis for a variety of careers. More children are reading fluently and most pupils now attend good or outstanding schools. Disadvantaged children are performing better relative to their peers; the attainment gap has narrowed at every stage from the early years to age 16 since 2011. Our widespread reforms have supported these improvements.

We are committed to maintaining these high standards and continuing to tackle the attainment gap as the country recovers from the COVID-19 outbreak. On 19 June we announced a £1 billion COVID “catch-up” package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time.

£650 million will be shared across state primary, secondary and special schools over the 2020/21 academic year. This one-off grant to support pupils recognises that all young people have lost time in education as a result of the outbreak, regardless of their location or background.  School leaders will have discretion over how to use the funding but we expect it to focus on the most effective approaches. The Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance to help schools make good decisions about how to use the money effectively.

Separately, a National Tutoring Programme worth £350 million will increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged children and young people. This will help to accelerate their academic progress and tackle the attainment gap between them and their peers.

This £1 billion package is on top of the £14.4 billion core funding increase over three years announced last year, and the £2.4 billion pupil premium schools continue to receive on top of core funding to support their disadvantaged pupils. Schools in the Wansbeck constituency are sharing pupil premium funding of more than £4.4 million this year.

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