Worcester MP Robin Walker has taken the opportunity to raise affordable childcare and higher needs funding in his first Education Questions as Chair of the Education Selection Committee.
Upon his election as Chair, Robin pledged to work with the Committee on issues such as childcare and the cost of living, as well as keeping up the great work which former Chair Robert Halfon started on attendance, safeguarding, skills, careers and SEN and to hold ministers to account.
Following a question from Danny Kruger MP for Devizes, Robin asked:
“Thank you, Mr Speaker. High needs pupils need “the right support in the right place at the right time”.”
“Those are not my words but those of the Government’s Green Paper, and yet BBC local radio in Worcestershire is reporting today that a nine-year-old with autism missed a year of education because our specialist schools are full, and he could not get the support that he needed in mainstream. Instead, he was offered a placement 110 miles away, but that fell through. What progress has been made in spending the billions of extra high needs capital announced at the spending review? When can we expect more provision in Worcestershire?”
In response, Claire Coutinho, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education said:
“It is absolutely tragic that anyone might spend that amount of time outside of school. In March 2020, we announced £1.4 billion of high needs provision capital allocations, of which Worcestershire is receiving just over £10.7 million between 2022 and 2024 to help create new places in both mainstream and special schools. It is up to the local authority to determine how best to use that funding. However, the practice of sending children very far away is one thing that we would like to address in our response to the Green Paper.”
Robin’s question on affordable childcare was put to the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan:
“I welcome this ministerial team, especially my right hon. Friend Robert Halfon, who did such a brilliant job as Chair of the Select Committee on Education. I look forward to working with them all and seeking to hold them to account.”
“I have heard concerns from both sides of the House, including today from Mr Dhesi, MP for Slough about the affordability of childcare, and I am keen that the Select Committee urgently looks into that matter. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, if we are to meet the Prime Minister’s objective of education being a silver bullet and helping more people into work, affordable childcare is essential?”
In response, Minister Keegan said:
“The early years are a vital part of every child’s education, helping to set them up for life. We are committed to improving the affordability, choice and accessibility of childcare, and have spent more than £20 billion over the past five years supporting families with their childcare costs.”
Notes to editors
For a full transcript of the Education Questions, please see:
To watch Robin's questions, please see:
For Robin’s point of order in Parliament to acknowledge his election see: