Queen’s Speech 2021 Briefing: Inclusive education and COVID-19 recovery

State Opening of Parliament on 11 May marked the formal start of the parliamentary year. The Queen’s Speech set out the government’s agenda for the new parliamentary session. ALLFIE’s briefing highlights the relevant areas for inclusive education and our Covid19 campaign.

The Government has announced their post Covid-19 education recovery plan, which includes a combination of initiatives and legislation.

The Government’s Education Recovery Plan

The Government has appointed the Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, to develop a long-term plan that builds a better and fairer education system in England and delivers significant reforms to address the scale of this challenge.  Major investment is awarded to the catch-up programmes, including longer school days, summer schools, structured cultural and extra-curricular activities, additional tutorials, and pastoral support for children who have been adversely affected by a year of school closures and lockdown restrictions. .

Sir Kevan Collins has now resigned from his role as Education Recovery Commissioner.

SEND Green Paper

The Government began a major review of the SEND framework review in 2019. Two years later, we are still waiting for the Department for Education to publish any proposals coming out of the SEND review. We are expecting that the SEND Green Paper consultation, setting out the Government’s proposals for SEND reform, will be published by the end of June. So watch this space for further information and engagement opportunities to have your say.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021

The Government wants to establish secure schools for children convicted of crime.   These secure schools will be for children between the ages of 12-18 years old.

Oasis Restore, the first Secure School pilot, will be registered as a Secure Children’s Home and regulated by Ofsted.   OSIS secure school anticipate that their pupil intake will be disabled and many of them will come from the BAME communities as their statement includes the following:

“Challenges such as not being able to control emotions or understand oneself or others, plus living with neuro-developmental disorders, are common amongst young people within the criminal justice system. We also know that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) children, specifically boys, are over-represented compared to the general population.” It will be situated on the site of the Medway secure training centre in Kent with a stated aim to “place education and healthcare at the heart of youth custody”.

Secure Schools alongside alternative education providers and special schools are forms of segregated education that are incompatible with the development of inclusive education.

Skills and Post-16 Education Bill

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will include making skills training more readily available to increase individual’s employability.

The purpose of the bill is to deliver the Prime Minister’s new Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which will provide free Level 3 vocational courses to help individuals (without these qualifications) to gain in-demand skills. These courses will be delivered by further education providers.

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will require colleges to develop Local Skills Improvement Plans. These plans will by bringing together employers, further and higher education providers, and local communities to identify the employment skills needed enable students to acquire the relevant qualifications. Traineeships, apprenticeships, and technical courses, including T Levels, will align with employment skills standards, overseen by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

In the bill, Young Disabled people and children labelled with SEN will continue to gain direct work-related skills alongside Maths and English. Support will be available for students with education and health and care plans (EHCPs) who are “capable” of completing mainstream courses with their non-Disabled peers. Capital funding for further education institutions is available to improve the accessibility and suitability of buildings and campuses for Disabled students, in compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and SEND policy.

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will also strengthen the powers of Government Ministers and regulatory bodies in dealing with poor quality provision in further and higher education. The Secretary of State for Education, OFSTED and the Office for Students will have stronger enforcement powers to address low quality further and higher education provision.

The bill will introduce Lifelong Loan Entitlement, which will give individuals access to the equivalent of up to four years’ worth of student loans for Level 4-6 courses (Degree and Post Graduate Certificate / Diplomas). For students with Level 2 and higher qualifications, a review of Equivalent and Lower Qualifications Restrictions will take place to facilitate the retention and stimulation of demand.

Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill

This bill will strengthen student unions and university duties in promoting and securing freedom of speech and academic freedom in higher education. A new Director for Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom role will be created at the Office for Students, to champion freedom of speech and academic freedom on campus.

Digital and Blended Learning

The Department for Education is working with education providers to maintain and improve the role that digital and blended learning will continue to have in education post Covid-19.

Professional Qualifications Bill

Since leaving the EU, there is no requirement for the UK to automatically recognise professional qualifications from overseas. This bill will create a new framework for the UK to recognise professional qualifications from across the world to ensure employers can access professionals where there are UK shortages.

For more information about the Queen’s Speech, follow this link.

ALLFIE will be examining the proposals in greater detail and will decide how best to use the legislative opportunities to promote ALLFIE’s campaign for inclusive education.