Bishop of Gloucester asks about localising the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme

The Bishop of Gloucester received the following written answer on 7th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester asked His Majesty’s Government:

  • what assessment they have made of the potential merits of enabling local or regional authorities to influence or control the allocation of School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme budgets for their area.
  • what consideration they have given to reforming the School Fruit and Vegetable scheme (1) to strengthen local procurement strategies, and (2) to enhance the supply of (a) seasonal, or (b) organic, produce to schools.
  • what consideration they have given to enabling local authorities to have a role, on an initial pilot basis, in allocating funding from the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme in their area.
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Bishop of Durham speaks in a debate on GCSE and A-Level Results: Attainment Gap

On 8th September 2022, the Bishop of Durham spoke in a debate on the attainment gap in exam results, regarding children in North East England:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I begin by expressing, on behalf of these Benches, our concern for Her Majesty, and the assurance of our thoughts and prayers for her and the Royal Family.

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for securing this debate and pay tribute to the way she has stood up for the young people of the north-east throughout her distinguished career. I declare my interests as chair of the National Society and the Durham Diocesan Board of Finance.

I begin by celebrating the success of our young people and their teachers, particularly those of the north-east, in the recent A-level and GCSE examination results in both schools and further education colleges. However, we cannot hide away from the gap between the north and the south of England—the stats have already been quoted, so I will not repeat them. The most recent figures continue to show that disadvantaged communities in the north continue to be hit hardest by the Covid pandemic and its impact on learning. Poverty is in every north-east postcode and is set to worsen. Headlines include, for example:

“In 2020/21, the North East overtook London to have the highest rate of child poverty in the UK, at 38%”.

Continue reading “Bishop of Durham speaks in a debate on GCSE and A-Level Results: Attainment Gap”

Schools Bill: Bishop of Durham speaks and votes on amendments at report stage

The House of Lords considered the Government’s Schools Bill at Report Stage on 12th July 2022. The Bishop of Durham spoke in the debate on numerous amendments, several of which were put to a vote. His speeches and contributions from other peers are below:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Storey, that there are many maintained and voluntary-aided stand-alone schools that have turned themselves around incredibly well through good leadership and high-quality teaching, so academisation is not the simple answer. Local leadership and governance undoubtedly need to be got right. I declare my interest as chair of the National Society and would like to highlight the importance here, in the church sector, of the diocesan boards of education as key local engagers. We will come to that in a later group.

Local knowledge of schools is crucial in ensuring that their flourishing is provided for. However, I am going to disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Storey, because I find the amendment overly mandatory and restrictive, giving too much power to a local body to trigger a school leaving an academy trust; I am not sure that that is right. The principle of local governance needs to be got right. I am not convinced that this amendment as proposed is quite the right way to do it. As was said in Committee, it is important to have proper local engagement, but it must not be too detailed in how it is mandated.

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Schools Bill: Bishop of Chichester speaks on amendments at committee stage

On 13th June the House of Lords continued to debate the Government’s Schools Bill in committee. The Bishop of Chichester spoke in the debate, on behalf of the Bishop of Durham, introducing and responding to a number of amendments:

The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, I speak on behalf of my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, and declare his interest as chair of the National Society.

Continue reading “Schools Bill: Bishop of Chichester speaks on amendments at committee stage”

Schools Bill: Bishop of Bristol speaks on amendments in committee

On 13th June the House of Lords continued to debate the Government’s Schools Bill in committee. The Bishop of Bristol spoke in the debate, on behalf of the Bishop of Durham:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I speak in place of my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who unfortunately cannot be present today. I declare his interest as chair of the National Society.

I rise briefly to welcome Amendment 40 in this group, which offers real clarity on the issue. We welcome the recognition it shows that the religious body must be involved in giving an interim trustee notice to the proprietor of an academy school with a religious character. We are grateful for the Minister’s continued work on this and hope this might provide a little encouragement at this point.

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Bishop of Durham speaks on amendments to Schools Bill

On 8th June 2022, the House of Lords debated the Government’s Schools Bill (HL) in its first day in committee. The Bishop of Durham spoke in the debate, on amendments to the first clause:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I have to declare my interest as chair of the National Society, which oversees Church of England schools, although obviously they are all devolved around each diocesan board. I also apologise that I cannot be here for days two and three in Committee. I have a long-standing family holiday booked, and my marriage and parenthood are more important. I assure noble Lords that things will be covered by other Members on these Benches.

I have been told clearly by Members of this House that I should be very concerned about Clause 1, and indeed Clauses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and so on. Because of the nature of the people who have expressed those concerns, I listened very carefully. However, in principle I am persuaded that the move towards full academisation warrants the Secretary of State being given some additional powers. I disagree with a large number here: I think the direction of travel is abundantly clear. It is full academisation. If that is the direction of travel, we need to ensure that system is appropriately covered.

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Bishop of Worcester asks about the Schools White Paper

The Bishop of Worcester asked a question concerning Church of England schools and the government’s Schools White Paper on 29th March 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I echo the noble Lord, Lord Storey, in his thanks for the White Paper. In doing so, I declare my interest as president of the Woodard Corporation. In expressing gratitude, I appreciate in particular how the White Paper recognises the vital role the Churches have played in the educational landscape of this country for more than 200 years and that it sets out how the role needs to continue to be enabled in the future development of the school system. I will focus on two questions regarding the move towards the fully academised educational landscape set out in the White Paper and invite the Minister to agree that it requires two key things.

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Bishop of Birmingham asks about cohesion in schools

The Bishop of Birmingham asked a question regarding improvements in cohesion in Birmingham schools on 28th March 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, will the Minister commend the people of Birmingham for their extraordinary efforts since 2014 on cohesion and attempting to learn lessons from this very complicated event, as we have heard in your Lordships’ House today? Will she particularly commend them for the United Nations rights reporting school award, which has been applied for every year and is now awarded to 51% of primary and secondary schools in Birmingham, compared with only 18% across the country? Will she commend these actions and others, and ask for them to be replicated around the country so that we might live as one people?

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Bishop of Durham asks about children’s views of education during the pandemic

On 16th November 2020 Baroness Massey of Darwen asked the Government ” what plans they have to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into legislation.” The Bishop of Durham asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]:  Regarding the voice of children and young people, if Article 12 had been in law, what might their input have been on their own situation in schools, universities and the like through the pandemic? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about children’s views of education during the pandemic”

Bishop of Durham calls for postponement of Ofsted school inspections during ongoing covid-19 pandemic

On 29th October the House of Lords considered the Government’s Education (Exemption from School and Further Education Institutions Inspections) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 in Grand Committee. The Bishop of Durham spoke on the Regulations, highlighting the need for postponement of Ofsted and schools inspections whilst the vcovid-19 pandemic is ongoing:

The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: My Lords, I declare my interests as set out in the register. In welcoming warmly this new instrument to ensure that all schools are subject to inspection in the same way, we recognise the continuing value of inspections as a whole. I want to associate myself warmly with the comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, and the noble Lord, Lord Addington. However, although we welcome this instrument, we would also welcome the further postponing of Ofsted and school inspections, including the Section 48 inspections of schools with a religious designation, throughout the pandemic period. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham calls for postponement of Ofsted school inspections during ongoing covid-19 pandemic”

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