On 16th January 2019 the Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway received three written answers to questions, on school exclusions and the education of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers:
The Lord Bishop of Ely:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following their Race Disparity Audits, what steps they are taking to ensure that educational institutions improve the standard of reading among Gypsies, Roma and Travellers aged 6–7.
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following their Race Disparity Audits, what steps they are taking to ensure that educational institutions improve attainment at GCSE level for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.
Lord Agnew of Oulton: The department’s education reforms, including those aimed at improving teaching, literacy and numeracy, and strengthening the curriculum and examination system, are designed to deliver opportunity and high standards for all pupils, regardless of their ethnic background. These reforms are reinforced by new school accountability measures, which are intended to encourage schools to focus more closely on the attainment of all their pupils. The introduction of a new national curriculum for maintained schools from 2014, with phonics at its heart and the establishment of 32 English Hubs in 2018 specifically support primary schools to improve standards of reading.
The department knows that the most significant factor affecting pupil attainment, which cuts across all ethnicities including a high proportion of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children, is economic disadvantage. To tackle this, the department has provided a total of £13.75 billion from April 2011 to March 2018 through the pupil premium to help schools improve the progress and attainment of their disadvantaged pupils. The department continues to provide this additional funding, which is £2.4 billion this year alone.
In January last year, the department established the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller stakeholder group to inform policy development to raise the attainment and participation of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils at all stages of education.
The Lord Bishop of Ely: To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the review of school exclusion report was not released by their deadline of the end of 2018; and when they intend to publish that report.
Lord Agnew of Oulton: In March 2018, the government launched an externally-led review of exclusions practice, led by Edward Timpson CBE. The review is exploring how head teachers use exclusion, and why pupils with particular characteristics are more likely to be excluded from school. It is also considering the differences in exclusion rates across primary and secondary schools in England.
The review has gathered substantial evidence, including over 900 submissions to the call for evidence. Edward Timpson has also chaired a series of roundtables and the review has met with over 100 organisations and individuals, including schools, local authorities, parents and children.
The review will report in early 2019.