MPs spent over an hour grilling the education secretary and his ministers in Parliament this afternoon.
Damian Hinds answered questions alongside the schools minister Nick Gibb, the children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi, and others.
Here’s what we learned.
1. 92 struggling schools are waiting for a sponsor…
Asked for an update on the government’s academisation plan, Gibb said there are now more than 2,000 open, sponsored academies.
A further 92 schools are currently subject to an academy order and are “in process of being matched with a sponsor”.
Last December, Ofsted’s annual report revealed that more than 60 schools branded ‘inadequate’ had still not been taken over.
2. …but academies are ‘working’
Heidi Alexander, the MP for Lewisham East, raised the particular problems in finding a sponsor faced by Sedgehill School in her constituency.
But Gibb denied there were problems with the academies system as a whole.
“We have 7,000 academies now, most of which are converter-academies, which themselves are becoming sponsors across the system,” he said. “The academies programme is working and is raising standards across the system.”
3. Hinds ‘should have been more precise’ on funding
The education secretary was pilloried for comments he made at the last education questions, when he claimed that schools were seeing a “real-terms” increase in funding.
Hinds was slapped on the wrist last week over the claim, which is incorrect. In fact, schools are only seeing their funding increase in cash terms, which does not take into account cost rises.
“Across the system per-pupil real terms funding is being maintained,” Hinds told MPs today, but admitted he “could and should have been more precise” when he spoke about the matter in January.
4. More details on RSE reforms will be published ‘shortly’
The government will publish responses to its recent “call for evidence” on relationships and sex education reforms “shortly”, Gibb said.
Teachers and others were asked for their views when the consultation was launched in December.
Parliament voted last year to make relationships education compulsory for all children from the age of four, and sex education compulsory for all children aged 11 and over.
5. SEND pupils without an EHCP will still be supported
Although the government is “aiming” to have all pupils with special educational needs and disabilities transferred to an education and health care plan by April, those who don’t by the deadline will still be supported.
Nadhim Zahawi, the children’s minister, insisted that most councils are on target, but those who don’t have a plan by the deadline “will have support maintained”.
Last month, the local government ombudsman warned that pupils are waiting up to 90 weeks to be transferred from the old statements system to the new EHCPs.