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Academic A-levels: Knowsley

Volume 633: debated on Monday 11 December 2017

4. What steps she is taking to ensure that academic A-levels are taught in the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley. (902846)

Knowsley Metropolitan Borough will benefit from an initial A-level offer in September 2018 through Knowsley Community College’s imminent merger with St Helens College. The 2018-19 prospectus has now been published, setting out the A-level offer available, and the Department is also working with Knowsley’s local authority to ensure the implementation of Knowsley Better Together, which is the wider local plan for improving access to A-levels in Knowsley.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but in a number of meetings with Knowsley MPs over the past year, her Ministers have promised to bring in a recognised excellent provider to restore academic A-level provision to Knowsley. The provision of some college vocational A-levels is a welcome development, but it is not enough. What progress has the Department made on delivering the promises made by her Ministers to local MPs over the past year?

I was happy to meet the hon. Lady and her colleagues, and I am sure she will remember from the letter I sent her following that meeting that I have asked my officials specifically to convene a further meeting locally to agree an approach on the maths support programme, which will focus on improving level 3 maths, and on the English hub roll-out for Knowsley.

The new A-level provision from next September in Knowsley is very welcome, but will the Secretary of State commit to working with the local authority and the commission established under the leadership of Christine Gilbert to ensure that more young people in Knowsley are able to take advantage not only of academic A-levels but of vocational qualifications?

We want to ensure that that kind of offer is available for every child in our country, including in Knowsley. As the right hon. Gentleman suggests, there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that the education offer on people’s doorsteps in Knowsley gets better over the coming years. He will know that a lot of work is going on locally, and that is complemented by our national focus on standards. I have written to him about this, and I am happy to do my role in ensuring that we work together to improve education outcomes for children in Knowsley.