MP for Windsor
Working Hard For You
Universal Free School Meals

Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the potential costs and benefits of the introduction of universal infant free school meals in the UK.

Mr David Laws (Minister of State for Schools): The Department for Education is responsible for the introduction of the requirement that state-funded schools in England should offer universal infant free school meals, which came into effect on 1 September 2014.

Between 2009 and 2011 the Department for Education and the Department of Health piloted the provision of universal free school meals in Durham and Newham. The independent evaluation of those pilots showed that there were a number of benefits arising from the provision of universal free school meals, including improved attainment, healthier eating habits and increases in the uptake of meals among children who would have been eligible for free school meals under the existing criteria. We also know, from research carried out by the School Food Trust (now Children’s Food Trust), that universal infant free school meals will save families who previously paid for school lunches up to £400 a year per infant child.

The Department has used School Food Trust research into the costs of school meal provision, as well as feedback from local authorities and stakeholders, to inform the allocation of funding for this policy and the targeting of implementation support. In particular, this research informed the decision to allocate £2.30 of revenue funding per meal taken by newly eligible pupils.


Teaching of STEM subjects in schools

Mr Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics there were in UK secondary schools in (a) 2011-12, (b) 2012-13 and (c) 2013-14.

Mr David Laws (Minister of State for Schools): The following table provides the number of science (by separate science subject), technology, engineering and mathematics teachers in service in publicly funded secondary schools in England in November of each year from 2011 to 2013: [1], [2]

Subject [3] 2011 2012 2013
Physics 5,900 6,000 6,200
Chemistry 6,900 7,200 7,400
Biology 8,500 8,700 8,800
Combined/General Science 34,700 32,700 32,900
Other Sciences 2,800 2,400 2,400
Technology 14,800 13,800 13,400
Engineering 1,600 1,500 1,500
Mathematics 35,200 32,800 33,300

Source: School Workforce Census

[1] Figures are based on a large sample of over 70% of secondary schools.

[2] Figures are rounded to the nearest 100.

[3] Each teacher is counted once under each subject they teach.


High-quality computing teachers

Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she has taken to encourage (a) computer science graduates and (b) professional programmers to become teachers.

David Laws (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education): The Department for Education is committed to recruiting high-quality graduates into teaching. The latest data published by UCAS on 25 September 2014 in its ‘UCAS Teacher Training statistical releases’[1], indicates that there will be an increase in computing trainees commencing initial teacher training (ITT) this year, although this will not be certain until the 2014/15 ITT census is published.

For computing trainees starting their training in 2015/16, we have increased bursaries to up to £25,000 tax-free. We are also funding a prestigious scholarship scheme for computing trainees worth £25,000 tax-free and offering a range of professional benefits. Additional funding has also been made available to schools offering School Direct (salaried) places in computing to boost starting salaries; computing trainees will be able to earn over £21,000 nationally and £25,000 in inner London.

There are a range of other incentives in place to attract high quality computing trainees into the teaching profession, including:

  1. The delivery of a targeted marketing campaign to encourage high-quality computing graduates and potential career changers to consider a career in teaching.
  2. The offering of tailored support for graduates and career changers interested in teaching computing, including access to a School Experience Programme.
  3. Funding of computing subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) programmes, which prepare applicants for teacher training by building up or refreshing their existing knowledge. 31% of computing applicants who accepted an ITT place for 2013/14 accessed a SKE course.



Business Education in Schools

Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Education what recent steps he has taken to encourage businesses to engage with schools so that students develop a more practical understanding of business.

David Laws (The Minister for Schools; Yeovil, Liberal Democrat): The Department for Education wants to give employers a much greater role in inspiring and motivating young people about the world of work. We published statutory guidance in April to improve links between schools and employers so that pupils can receive careers advice from people with experience of business. More employers are getting involved by interacting with young people in the classroom and giving them an insight into the workplace. This can also include coaching, mentoring, work tasters and work experience. From October we are reshaping the role of the National Careers Service (NCS) to expand its offer to schools and colleges. It will be easier for employers and educators to participate in the NCS.

We are taking steps to connect the education system to the world of work to ensure that young people have the skills, experience and qualifications that employers want. Last month we announced the introduction of Technical Awards for students aged between 14 and 16. These qualifications, which are equivalent to GCSEs, are developed in partnership with employers and will give students the opportunity to develop practical skills.

The Department has introduced Tech Levels for students aged between 16 and 19 who want to learn technical skills as an alternative to, or alongside, A levels. The 227 Tech Levels taught from September 2014 are all endorsed by employers, trades or professional bodies and cover most practical careers. From September 2016, all Tech Level courses will also involve employers in the delivery or assessment of the qualification.


Availability of business resources in public libraries

Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent steps he has taken to provide more business resources in libraries.

Edward Vaizey (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of DCMS; Wantage, Conservative): The Enterprising Libraries programme, a £1.2 million partnership between Arts Council England, the British Library and the Department for Communities and Local Government, is supporting local economic growth by turning libraries into spaces for the development of business ideas, providing coaching, advice, meeting spaces and IT support for local businesses and entrepreneurs. Currently 16 public libraries in England are actively engaged in the programme and receiving financial support.

Other specific initiatives being delivered through public libraries includes the Access to Research service. This two year pilot commenced in January 2014 and provides a free service enabling local libraries to provide users with access to a wealth of research, including business information. In addition, library authorities are developing business resources to meet local needs. Staffordshire for example has introduced Start2, a service that is available in all public libraries across the county and has trained staff offering information and signposting on all aspects of looking for and finding work, including providing a starting point for entrepreneurs who want to start their own business and small enterprises looking to expand by signposting them to relevant sources of information or specialist organisations.