Last Wednesday in the House of Commons, the opposition day began with this piece that was set out by Kate Green who is the Labour Shadow Education Minister and the title of the debate was “Investing in Children and Young People”. Along with the other people who participated inevitably the Government needed to involve one of their Ministers. The education Minister who took part was Vicky Ford who is the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Education. At the end of the debate as Vicky Ford was finishing off the session which was more than three hours long an MP who I have met and have a great deal of respect for asked her as simple question. In one sense his question did not require a great deal of detail as the resignation of Kevan Collins is very well known amongst most people outside of Parliament. It is widely known that he resigned because his call for £10bn – £15bn for enable education to get back towards where it was prior to the COVID challenges. Even though this call took place in private and was discussed internally, he felt he needed to resign when the Department response was made public before he was informed and the decision was for £1.4bn to be released rather than the sums he was calling for. His resignation was referred to in my blog on 3rd June. However more importantly the news media covered it extensively. So here is the question and response.
Stephen Timms: Can the hon. Lady tell the House why she believes that Sir Kevan Collins resigned last week?
Vicky Ford: Sir Kevan is a very thoughtful person. He worked very closely with us on the two first key elements of the catch-up packages, which is the improved teaching and tutoring. In all my engagement with him, I found him to be very helpful, especially on the elements to do with early years. I do not know the rationale behind his resignation, but I do know that, as I said earlier, we are looking at the proposals to extend the school day, but that needs to be done with deep consultation and thought to make sure that that money, if it is invested, delivers the best education for our children. I am completely confused by exactly what Labour is suggesting it will do with the school day.
Of course the session last Wednesday did not focus exclusively on the loss of Kevan Collins, but this was the starting comment from Kate Green
That this House
regrets the resignation of the education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, over the Government’s inadequate proposals to support children after the coronavirus pandemic;
agrees with Sir Kevan’s assessment that the current half-hearted approach risks failing hundreds of thousands of young people;
and therefore calls on the Government to bring forward a more ambitious plan before the onset of the school summer holiday which includes an uplift to the pupil premium and increased investment in targeted support, makes additional funding available to schools for extracurricular clubs and activities to boost children’s wellbeing, and provides free school meals to all eligible children throughout the summer holiday.
And sadly because the Government is not interested in the Opposition Party views they could not even be bothered to vote. At the end of the session there were 224 MPs who voted in favour of the Labour call. Of these only one Conservative bothered to do so. She is Anne-Marie Morris who is the MP for Newton Abbot and she deserves to be applauded for doing so.