Parliamentary questions (PQs) are a way for Members of Parliament to hold the Government to account. They can be used to seek information or to press for action, as well as oblige Ministers to explain and defend the work, policy decisions and actions of their Departments.
The next Oral Questions for Education will be scheduled following Parliament’s Summer Recess, on 3rd September 2012.
Recently answered parliamentary questions
Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what proportion of (a) primary and (b) secondary schools have been judged (i) outstanding, (ii) good, (iii) satisfactory and (iv) inadequate by Ofsted in each month since the introduction of the new inspection framework. 
Mr Gibb[holding answer 23 April 2012]: This question is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has written to the hon. Member, and a copy of his response has been placed in the House Libraries.
Letter from Michael Wilshaw dated 25 April 2012:
Your recent parliamentary question has been passed to me, as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, for response.
Since 2005, maintained school inspections have been carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005—and, more recently, the Education Act 2011 (since 1 January 2012). Ofsted records all judgements made by inspectors in section 5 inspections, including the judgement for overall effectiveness of the school.
Currently no official statistics are available that report on the outcomes of the new inspection framework, which was introduced in January 2012. Data about inspections for the period 1 January 2012 to 31 March 2012 are due to be released on the Ofsted website on 12 June 2012.
However, some management information on the new framework has been released. This provides an early indication of the outcomes of inspections under section 5 of the Education Act 2011 which took place in the first three weeks of January 2012. The figures have not undergone the same rigorous level of quality assurance as official statistics, and cover a relatively small number of schools. Table 1, below, provides a summary of the overall, effectiveness judgement of schools inspected between 6 January 2012 and 20 January 2012.
A copy of this reply will be placed in the library of both Houses.
Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many free schools he expects to open in September 2013. 
Mr Gibb[holding answer 23 April 2012]: The application round for groups hoping to open free schools in 2013 and beyond closed in February this year. The applications are currently being assessed and the results will be announced by the Secretary of State for Education, my right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), in the summer.
The successful applications will join nine schools that are already in pre-opening phase and due to open in September 2013.
Lord Lucas: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any of the Special Educational Needs pathfinder pilot local authorities have included home-educated children in the pilot; if so, which authorities, and how many children in each authority; if not, why not, and what steps they will take to address this issue. [HL16715]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Since the launch of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) pathfinder programme in late 2011, the 31 pathfinder local authorities and their health partners have been working in partnership with parents and carers from a wide variety of backgrounds to design and develop their approach to testing the key reforms set out in the Green Paper Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability.
The pathfinder programme is intended to test the Green Paper reforms across the spectrum of SEND, including improving assessment and planning for children with the most complex needs who would normally receive a statement through the education, health and care plan, and improving transparency about services available locally through the introduction of a ‘local offer’. It is up to pathfinders to identify and recruit their particular cohort of families locally, but we expect cohorts to include children and young people with a range of needs and in a range of settings (eg including early years provision, special schools, maintained schools, Academies and other settings which might include home educated children). We do not expect the evaluation to report on the impact of the Green Paper reforms on specific types of schooling.
Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Education with reference to section 9 of the Academies Act 2010, what arrangements he has put in place to take account of the effects of establishing an additional school on neighbouring schools. 
Mr Gibb: Section 9 of the Academies Act 2010 requires the Secretary of State for Education, my right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), to consider any effects of establishing an additional school on neighbouring schools. Before entering into a funding agreement, each proposal for a new free school is subject to an analysis of what the likely impact of establishing the additional school would be on maintained schools, academies, institutions within the further education sector and alternative provision in the area in which the additional school is (or is proposed to be) situated.
Kelvin Hopkins: Last week I listened with interest to a Radio 4 programme about the use of synthetic phonics in the teaching of reading in schools. It was clear that there was a fundamental difference between the philosophies relating to education and teaching methods which had not yet been resolved. Does the Minister accept that until we solve that problem, we will not overcome our fundamental problems in education?
Mr Gibb: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Getting reading right in primary schools is fundamental to children’s future education. That is why we have introduced match funding for primary schools—£3,000 per school for new training and materials—and why every six-year-old will undergo a phonic check this June so that we can ensure that we spot the children who are struggling with reading. We are determined to end the scandal of one in 10 boys leaving primary school with a reading age of seven or less.
Mr Rob Wilson: What proportion of secondary schools have academy status or are in the process of converting to academy status. 
The Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove): At present, we are fortunate in that more than 50% of secondary schools are either full academies or en route to converting to academy status.
Mr Wilson: I congratulate my right hon. Friend on that figure. I must tell him, however, that at a recent council meeting in Reading, the Labour administration launched an outdated left-wing assault on the academies programme. Given the clear benefits of academy status, will he condemn that backward-looking element of the Labour party and reaffirm the Government’s commitment to putting children first, not party-political dogma?
Michael Gove: That is an excellent point. Now that more than half the number of secondary schools are either academies or en route to becoming academies, those who attack the academies programme are attacking the majority of state schools in the country. It is a pity that there are people in the Labour party who are enemies of state education at a time when so many great head teachers are taking advantage of academy freedoms to raise standards for all.
Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Education whether free schools are permitted to give independent schools priority as feeder schools in their admissions arrangements.
Mr Gibb: All free schools must comply with the Schools Admissions Code. This requires free schools to operate admissions arrangements which are transparent, fair and not complex. Section 1.9 of the code prevents any school, including free schools, from naming fee paying independent schools as feeders.
Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many schools have applied for matched funding to purchase phonics material; and which providers they have indicated they will be purchasing from. 
Mr Gibb: Schools can apply for match-funding by purchasing phonics resources from a catalogue ‘The Importance of Phonics’. The catalogue includes resources from a range of providers that meet the Department’s criteria for a systematic synthetic phonics programme. By 16 March 2012 around 6,710 schools had purchased phonics materials from all of the publishers included in the catalogue.
Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment criteria will be issued to primary schools for Key Stage 2 English writing assessments. 
Mr Gibb[holding answer 26 March 2012]: Lord Bew’s independent review of key stage 2 testing, assessment and accountability recommended significant changes to the assessment of writing, which the Government accepted.
Those recommendations will be implemented in full in 2013, but in 2012 interim arrangements will apply to the assessment of writing. A pupil’s English writing result will be a teacher assessment judgment of their work across year 6 against the National Curriculum level scale. Teachers’ judgments will be informed by and take account of pupils’ results in a national test. Schools have been able to choose whether to administer the test at a time of their choosing and mark it internally, using a mark scheme that has been provided, or to administer it on 9 May and have it externally marked. In line with Lord Bew’s recommendations, the teacher assessment of writing will be subject to external moderation in 15 to 25% of schools.
Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many primary schools have opted for an external assessment for the writing element of the Key Stage 2 English assessment in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr Gibb: Following Lord Bew’s independent review of key stage 2 testing and assessment, interim arrangements will apply to the assessment of writing in 2012. A pupil’s writing result will be a teacher assessment judgment of their work across year 6, which will be informed by and take account of their results in a national test. Schools have been able to choose whether to administer the test at a time of their choosing and mark it internally, or to administer it on 9 May and have it externally marked.
A total of 2,762 schools have opted to have their KS2 English writing test externally marked this year. This figure does not include the 1,500 schools that were selected to participate in the key stage 2 writing sample test which will be used to monitor national standards.
In line with Lord Bew’s recommendations, the teacher assessment of writing will be subject to external moderation in 15 to 25% of schools.
Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what his policy is on the weight given to the internally-assessed writing element of Key Stage 2 English in setting the level of achievement. 
Mr Gibb: Following Lord Bew’s independent review of key stage 2 testing and assessment, interim arrangements will apply to the assessment of writing in 2012. A pupil’s writing result will be a teacher assessment judgment of their work across year 6. This will be informed by, but not be limited to, their results in a national test. Schools have been able to choose whether to administer the test at a time of their choosing and mark it internally, or to administer it on 9 May and have it externally marked.
A pupil’s teacher assessment result will be reported to parents, along with their results in the externally marked tests for reading and mathematics.
Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what measures his Department has put in place to identify and support GCSE students with poor reading and comprehension skills; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gibb: Decisions on how to identify and support secondary school pupils with poor reading and comprehension skills are best made at a local level. It is the responsibility of schools to identify and support those pupils all stages, including at GCSE.
Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions have taken place between his Department and the Department for Education to ensure that students on vocational courses and in apprenticeships receive appropriate literacy and numeracy support; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Hayes: The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), recognises the value of English and mathematics within vocational courses and apprenticeships. All apprentices who have not yet achieved a level 1 qualification in literacy/English or numeracy/mathematics are required to take an appropriate qualification or qualifications as part of their apprenticeship programme. Training providers are funded to support apprentices and other learners to achieve qualifications in English and mathematics.
I have a joint portfolio for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education. Following the Woolf Review recommendations, officials from the two Departments have had a number of discussions to ensure that policy is consistent. To coincide with the entitlement for all 16 to 19-year-olds, I announced in December that training providers should support apprentices towards the achievement of a level 2 qualification in English and mathematics.
I am conscious of the need to ensure that the quality of apprenticeship provision continues to improve and I have announced that all apprenticeships should entail a rigorous period of learning and the practice of new skills. If standards are sufficiently stretching and expectations of competency high, I believe this will extend over at least 12 months. This will be the minimum expectation for apprenticeships for under 19-year-olds from August 2012.
Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what measures are in place to ensure that secondary school pupils with literacy difficulties are identified early and receive adequate support; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gibb: Primary schools transfer information about each pupil’s educational attainment, as well as about any special educational needs, to the pupil’s secondary school. It is the responsibility of secondary schools to assess the needs of all pupils when they arrive and to provide them with the support they need to progress.
Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what support his Department is giving to primary schools to develop pupils’ literacy skills in years two to six. 
Mr Gibb: We are determined to raise standards of literacy in schools in order to equip all children with the basic skills they need to succeed. We are promoting the teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, in line with strong evidence on its particular benefits for children aged 5-7. This includes making match-funding of up to £3,000 available to all state-funded schools with key stage one pupils (up to year two), so that they can purchase approved systematic synthetic phonics products and training; introducing a phonics screening check for pupils at the end of year one; and improving initial teacher training in systematic synthetic phonics.
The investment in reading in key stage one will have a positive impact on literacy skills in later years. In addition, our other reforms, including to Key Stage 2 assessment, and the future changes to the national curriculum, will all support improvements to literacy standards in primary schools.
Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of children are screened for (a) visual and (b) auditory impairment during a health assessment on school entry; what measures are in place to encourage such screening; and if he will make a statement. 
Anne Milton: The data for both vision and hearing screening are not held centrally.
The ‘Healthy Child Programme: pregnancy and the first five years’, is the evidence-based prevention and early intervention programme setting out the good practice framework for the delivery of services starting in pregnancy to promote optimal health and well-being and reduce health inequalities.
As part of the screening schedule, the Healthy Child Programme recommends that commissioners ensure there is easy access for children of all ages to audiology services throughout childhood and children should be screened for visual impairment between four and five years of age by an orpthoptist-led service.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Education pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Leeds North East of 16 March 2011, Official Report, columns 423-24W, on independent review panels, in respect of each of the reviews commissioned by his Department between May 2010 and March 2011 which appointments (a) were made following a light-touch process and (b) involved a formal application and selection process; and if he will make a statement. 
Tim Loughton [holding answer 5 September 2011]: All independent review panel appointments were based on a light-touch process.
Nic Dakin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he plans to publish the relevant financial and non-financial interests of members of his Department’s independent review panels; and if he will make a statement. 
Tim Loughton: The Department does not collect this information. The appointment of members to the Department’s independent review panels is based on their professional expertise. Before making the appointment, Ministers would consider the suitability of an appointee particularly where there may be a conflict of interest or if the appointment may have an adverse impact on the review.
Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education pursuant to the answer of 16 March 2011, Official Report, columns 423-4W, on independent review panels, on what basis his Department decides whether to pursue a very light-touch process or a more formal application and selection process; and if he will make a statement. 
Tim Loughton: The Department follows the principles and processes set out in the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ code of practice
The code of practice does not require the Department to apply the full process set out in the code to posts that fall outside of the Commissioner’s remit, and where this is the case a light touch process may be undertaken.
A more formal application and selection process would be undertaken where the post is remunerated.
Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 24 March 2011, Official Report, columns 61-2WS, on the Year 1 phonics screening check, how often his Department plans to update the list of approved phonics products and training; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gibb: The process for reviewing publishers’ self-assessments of phonics products against the Department’s core criteria will continue until at least September 2011. We will consider whether to extend this process further.
Separately, a catalogue containing an approved list of products and training will be available in September 2011 following a procurement exercise. We expect to re- procure products and training for the catalogue by April 2012.
Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what account is taken of relevant (a) financial and (b) non-financial interests in the appointment of members of independent review panels in his Department; 
(2) what measures are in place to ensure the avoidance of conflicts of (a) financial and (b) non-financial interests of members of independent review panels in his Department; 
(3) what criteria apply in respect of the selection of members of independent review panels commissioned by his Department. 
Tim Loughton: There are a number of possible routes by which someone might be appointed to an independent review panel depending on the scope and remit of the panel. Some appointments are made following a very light-touch process while others involve a more formal application and selection processes.
In all cases, appointees are required to observe Lord Nolan’s “Seven Principles of Public Life”, often described as “the Nolan Principles”. The Seven Principles are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Further information describing the principles in more detail can be found on the Commissioner for Public Appointments website:
Useful links to further information