Education: Standards

Department for Education written question – answered on 12th October 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to close the attainment gap for (1) disabled children, and (2) children from (a) disadvantaged, and (b) BAME, communities.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government is taking steps to close the attainment gap for disabled and disadvantaged children.

We have announced £780 million additional funding in 2020-21 for children and young people with the most complex needs, bringing the total funding for high needs to £7.2 billion.

Since 2018, we have commissioned a programme of work to embed special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) into school improvement practice and to equip the workforce to deliver high-quality teaching across all types of SEND. The department provided funding of £3.9 million for the first 2 financial years and have extended the contract until March 2021 for a further £2.18 million.

On 19 May, the government announced that the Family Fund will receive funding of £37.3 million in the financial year 2020-21 to provide grants to families on low incomes who have disabilities or severe medical conditions. This funding includes £10 million which has been allocated to help families in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. More details are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/37-million-to-support-children-with-complex-needs.

To help close the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils, our £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package will provide additional funding to schools to support pupils whose education has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Part of this package includes the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), which is providing £350 million of targeted support focused on disadvantaged pupils. This will give schools access to subsidised tuition and in-house academic mentor to help disadvantaged pupils make up for lost learning time. The NTP sits alongside our £650 million universal catch-up premium funding for the current academic year, which will enable schools to prioritise support for specific groups of pupils in line with their level of need.

The ongoing provision of pupil premium funding, which is worth £2.4 billion this financial year, aims to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. It allows school leaders to tailor the support they provide, based on the needs of their disadvantaged pupils, with the aim of accelerating their progress and improving their attainment.

To help schools support pupils with particular characteristics, including ethnicity, we have commissioned an independent research and assessment agency to consider catch-up needs and monitor progress over the course of the year, to help us target support across the system. This research will make use of existing assessments that schools already choose to use and are typically taken by over a million children each year. This will allow the department to assess how a range of groups are performing over this year, including the most disadvantaged and those with historically poor outcomes.

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