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Levelling Up Missions: Education and Skills

Volume 708: debated on Thursday 3 February 2022

I have announced a number of new education and skills reforms which support delivery of two of the Government’s 12 levelling up missions which can be found in full on gov.uk.

The missions that the Department for Education will lead are:

Education: By 2030, the number of primary school children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths will have significantly increased. In England, this will mean 90% of children will achieve the expected standard, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by over a third.

Skills: By 2030, the number of people successfully completing high quality skills training will have significantly increased in every area of the UK. In England, this will lead to 200,000 more people successfully completing high quality skills training annually, driven by 80,000 more people completing courses in the lowest skilled areas.

Plans to deliver our ambitious education mission will be underpinned by proposals for 55 new education investment areas that will target investment, support and action that help children from all backgrounds and areas to succeed at the very highest levels. Education investment areas will cover the third of local authorities in England where educational attainment is currently weakest, plus any additional local authorities that contain either an existing opportunity area or were previously identified as having the highest potential for rapid improvement. A list of all 55 education investment areas can be found on gov.uk.

We will also open new free schools where they are most needed and prioritise education investment areas in doing so. This will include new specialist sixth-form free schools, helping ensure talented children from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to the highest standard of education this country offers.

The UK Government will create a transformative new online UK National Academy. It will support pupils from all backgrounds and areas to succeed at the very highest levels. This support will be made available across the UK.

I am announcing a joint project to be launched between DfE and the Food Standards Agency to design and test a new approach for local authorities in assuring and supporting compliance with school food standards. The UK Government will promote accountability and transparency of school food arrangements by encouraging schools to complete a statement on their school websites, which sets out their whole school approach to food.

In addition, the UK Government will invest up to £5 million to launch a school cooking revolution, including the development of brand new content for the curriculum and providing bursaries for teacher training and leadership and training for governors and trusts.

To make our skills mission a reality, thousands more adults will soon be able access free, flexible training and get the skills they need to secure careers in sectors including green, digital and construction as part of up to an additional £550 million boost to expand the popular across the country.

To better understand the skills gaps, I am establishing a new future skills unit which will look at the data and evidence of where skills gaps exist and in what industries. Furthermore, we are working with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to roll out higher technical qualifications from September 2022, which have been approved against employer-led standards as providing learners with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for a given occupation.

Employers must be at the heart of reforming local skills infrastructure. To realise this, the 2021-22 skills accelerator is piloting new employer-led local skills improvement plans and supporting providers with strategic development funding to help shape technical skills provision to better meet labour market needs.

So that in future we can achieve greater alignment to the delivery of employment and skills interventions, in Blackpool, Walsall and Barking and Dagenham the Government are trialling new pilot pathfinder areas to bring together local delivery partners from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education, to support people into work and better identify progression opportunities for those in part time employment.

Alongside launching a further nine institutes of technology, taking the total in England to 21 and exceeding our manifesto commitment, the Government will secure their long term-position as anchor institutions in their regions, on a par with the UK’s world-leading historic universities successful institutes of technology will in future be able to apply for a Royal Charter.

We will also increase access to HE particularly in towns, cities and rural locations without access to this provision.

As part of the launch of the £2.6 billion UK Shared Prosperity Fund, adults across the whole of the UK will benefit from the multiply programme, offering national and local support for people to gain or improve their numeracy skills, worth £559 million over the SR21 period.

I will place a copy of the full list of the education investment areas and the methodology for their selection in the Libraries of both Houses.

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