MPs raised concerns about the adequacy of funding for sixth form colleges, outcomes for children in need, the inclusion of problem gambling in the PSHE curriculum, the role of early years in boosting social mobility, and mental health support for looked-after children.
Asked about whether Progress 8 provides a fair measure of progress pupils make in secondary school, Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb said: “We think it is a good measure. We are looking at some of the details of the outliers when we calculate Progress 8, and we will have more to say on that in due course.”
The minister also said that the government has “adopted a more flexible approach to public sector pay” and has asked the School Teachers’ Review Body to target the next pay award in order to promote teacher recruitment and retention.
Later that afternoon, MPs also debated the recently announced plans for grammar school expansion and new maintained faith schools following an Urgent Question from the Labour Party. The Secretary of State for Education acknowledged that “not enough children who are eligible for free school meals are able to attend” grammar schools at present and emphasised that in order to access the £50 million Selective Schools Expansion Fund “schools need to come forward with a proposal for how they are going to make their admissions broader and more accessible”.
On the topic of faith schools, some Conservative backbenchers were critical of the decision to drop the manifesto commitment to remove the 50% cap on faith based admissions from free schools’ oversubscription criteria.