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Written Statements

Volume 704: debated on Wednesday 1 December 2021

Written Statements

Wednesday 1 December 2021


Initial Teacher Training

Today, I am announcing the publication of the Government’s response to the Initial Teacher Training Market Review report.

The ITT Market Review report was published in July 2021. The report draws on a strong evidence base and best practice examples to support its 14 recommendations for improving and delivering high-quality teacher training. After its publication, we held a public consultation and stakeholder engagement programme on the review recommendations to ask for input from ITT providers, schools, teachers and interested bodies. This engagement has been crucial in informing the detail of the Government’s response to the review.

The Government response to the ITT Market Review report sets out our plans for a new ITT market. These plans are based on many of the review’s recommendations and the best available evidence on the features of world-class training.

Our reforms to the ITT market will deliver consistently high-quality training so that all teachers begin their careers with the knowledge and skills they need to be effective in the classroom. The reforms establish a new set of quality requirements for all ITT programmes that lead to qualified teacher status. These will ensure that all ITT providers offer:

an evidence-based training curriculum that, at a minimum, applies the principles of the ITT core content framework;

intensive training and practice opportunities to students;

a lead mentor or mentor leadership team to support trainees, with all mentors themselves offered a training curriculum.

When formulating our response, we have fully considered all views and feedback from the consultation and wider stakeholder engagement. While we want the reforms set out in the response implemented as soon as possible, we have listened to the sector and understand that, to ensure success, we need to give schools and ITT providers reasonable time to prepare for implementation. We have therefore decided to extend the implementation timeline by one year, meaning that all ITT programmes leading to QTS will need to comply with the new ITT quality requirements from September 2024.

Most of the recommendations proposed in the ITT Market Review have been accepted with some amendments and clarifications based on the feedback received. These amendments include funding to support mentoring requirements, reducing some of the proposed minimum time allocations and giving providers more flexibility in how they deliver the new intensive placement.

We have also accepted the review recommendation of an accreditation process that will require ITT providers to demonstrate that they meet the quality requirements. An accreditation process is necessary to ensure that all providers are treated fairly and that both new and existing providers meet the new requirements.

We will provide funding to support the implementation of these and further measures outlined in the Government response in 2024-25. Additional funding will be subject to future spending review outcomes.

The Government are committed to levelling up education standards to help every child reach their full potential. Brilliant teachers are central to this ambition, which is why we are creating a world-class teacher development system, providing teachers and school leaders with evidence-based training and support at every stage of their career.


Health and Social Care

HIV Action Plan

The government are committed to achieving zero new HIV infections and AIDS and HIV-related deaths in England by 2030. Today I am pleased to announce the publication of a new action plan which will drive forward progress towards delivering on this commitment and sets out how we will achieve our interim ambition of an 80% reduction in new infections by 2025. To support this, NHS England and NHS Improvement will expand opt-out testing in emergency departments in the highest prevalence local authority areas, a proven effective way to identify new cases, and will invest £20 million over the next three years to support this activity. It is timely that we publish our plan shortly ahead of World AIDS Day to underline again our commitment to tackling HIV, show our support for people living with HIV and remember those we have lost to AIDS.

The reduction in HIV transmission in England is a success story. There was a 35% reduction in new HIV diagnoses in England between 2014 and 2019. In 2019 an estimated 94% of people living with HIV had been diagnosed, 98% of those diagnosed were on treatment, and 97% of those on treatment had an undetectable viral load, meaning they cannot pass on the infection.

However, our ambitions are highly stretching and will require a doubling down on existing efforts and the adoption of new strategies to ensure we reach everyone we need to. We will need to maintain the excellent progress made with key groups—gay and bisexual men, younger adults, those in London—and significantly improve diagnoses for other groups. To achieve this, the HIV action plan sets out how we will ensure that partners across the health system and beyond maintain and intensify partnership working around four core themes, prevent, test, treat and retain. We will enhance, expand and bring together single elements of evidence-based HIV prevention activities into a comprehensive combination prevention programme. Components include preventing people from acquiring HIV, ensuring those who acquire HIV are diagnosed promptly, preventing onward transmission from those with diagnosed infection and delivering interventions which aim to improve the health and quality of life of people with HIV.

A national HIV Action Plan Implementation Steering Group, chaired by Kevin Fenton and comprising of all key partners, including the voluntary sector, will ensure we drive forward progress in line with our aims, and we will make an annual report to Parliament on our progress.

I would like to thank Dame Inga Beale, members of the HIV Oversight Group, the Independent HIV Commission, and all those that have helped for their excellent work in supporting the development of our plan. The action plan sets out how we will continue to work together with all those who share our ambition to achieve zero new HIV infections. The publication of the plan today is an important step towards achieving our goal.


Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Slough Borough Council

On 25 October 2021, I announced to the House that the Secretary of State was minded to intervene at Slough Borough Council (“the Authority”) and to appoint commissioners to take over functions associated with financial management and governance, oversight of the collection of revenues and distribution of benefits, and non-executive functions relating to the appointment and dismissal of statutory officers.

At the same time, I sought views on how best to improve political stability in the Authority’s leadership and to move towards a four-yearly election cycle.

These proposals followed the publication of an external assurance review, led by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and Jim Taylor, the former chief executive of Salford City Council, Trafford Council and Rochdale Borough Council. The review showed that the Authority had failed in its best value duty. This is a requirement set out in the Local Government Act 1999 to make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the way in which its functions are exercised, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. In addition, the review showed that the financial challenge was acute, and that the Authority could not become financially sustainable without Government support.

The governance element of the review identified poor practices which had dated as far back as 2011, but which were still occurring today; the council was unable to resolve such difficulties on its own (p.29). The council had the third highest level of borrowing per head for councils in England, but there was little evidence of any concerted, strategic, or commercial plan of investment; there was little evidence that the council understood the financial implications and risks of such borrowing (p.21).

Financial government was poor; the council was not equipped to undertake pre-decision scrutiny; its budget lacked clear business cases setting out how its planned savings could be delivered (p.17). There was no significant corporate ownership or understanding of finance; if the senior council senior team and senior members had acted more rigorously, the current financial impact on the council could have been mitigated (p.18).

As part of my announcement in October, I invited the Authority to make representations about my proposals to formally intervene on or before 5 November 2021. The Authority, its Conservative councillor group, an independent councillor and seven residents made representations. All representations supported the intervention and the proposal to appoint commissioners. The Authority accepted the findings of the external assurance review, stated that it looked forward to working with commissioners, and in relation to elections, confirmed that it had established a cross-party working group and planned a consultation. The Conservative group and the independent councillor pledged to work with the commissioners. Residents were universally supportive of the intervention and keen to see real improvement in the Authority’s services.

Best value intervention in Slough Borough Council

Following consideration of these representations, the Secretary of State has decided to proceed with the proposals announced on 25 October.

The Secretary of State is mindful that the lessons from past interventions suggest that once commissioners are in post, additional issues can arise. He is therefore directing the Authority to undertake an assessment of the functional capability of all service areas within the next three months, to identify any gaps in capacity and capability, and may expand the scope of the intervention if necessary.

Appointing Commissioners for Slough Borough Council

The Secretary of State has decided to appoint two commissioners with a proven record of leadership and transformation, strong financial management and governance, and the specific expertise that will be relevant to their functions.

Max Caller CBE (Lead Commissioner)—Max led the best value inspections at Northamptonshire and Liverpool and was a commissioner at Tower Hamlets. Max is a former chief executive of the London Boroughs of Hackney and Barnet and former chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

Margaret Lee (Finance Commissioner)—Margaret recently retired from Essex County Council where she held senior finance roles, including the statutory finance officer, and is a member of the London Borough of Croydon improvement and assurance panel.

The commissioners have been appointed for three years from 1 December 2021 to 30 November 2024, or such earlier or later time as we determine. We are clear that the directions should operate for as long, and only as long, and only in the form, as necessary.

The commissioners will be asked to provide their first report within the next three months, with their initial views and an assessment of whether they require further support. If further appointments are necessary, we hope to reflect the diversity of Slough’s population. Further reports will be provided every six months, or as agreed with the commissioners.

I want to be clear that most decisions will continue to be made by the Authority; the intention being that commissioners will only use their powers as a last resort if they are dissatisfied with the Authority’s improvement processes.

Commissioners will work collaboratively with the Children’s Services Commissioner, Trevor Doughty, to make sure that these vital services continue to be delivered effectively and efficiently in line with the Authority’s statutory duties. The Children’s Services Commissioner will continue to support the Slough Children First company and Slough Borough Council on its important work to continue to improve children’s social care services, which are no longer rated “inadequate”. He will also work with the council to explore the ideal future scope of services to be delivered by the company, including the recommendation on this in Jim Taylor’s report.

Following the recent Ofsted-Care Quality Commission inspection of local services for children and young people with special educational needs and or disabilities (SEND), the local area must now prepare a written statement of action setting out how it will improve these services. The Department for Education is supporting the council in this important task, and is considering how to engage and work with the commissioner team to ensure this work is also prioritised.

I am also asking the commissioners to support the Authority in relation to the negotiations with the Department for Education on the safety valve intervention programme. The Authority will participate in the programme given the size of its dedicated schools grant deficit. The programme requires collaboration across education and finance leadership for the long-term benefit of children and young people with high needs.

As with other interventions led by my Department, the Authority will be directed to meet the costs of the commissioners. The Government have reviewed the level of fees paid to commissioners appointed using powers in the Local Government Act 1999 and have determined that they should be uplifted. The fees paid to individuals are published in appointment letters which are available separately on I am assured this provides value for money given the expertise that is being brought, and the scale of the challenge in councils requiring statutory intervention. Given the importance of these roles, my Department will also move to a new annual open recruitment process to identify potential candidates for future commissioner appointments and other non-statutory improvement roles. Further information on this process will be published in due course.

Future of Slough Borough Council

Since the publication of the external assurance review the Authority have updated their financial position. The situation is unprecedented. Commissioners will play an important role in informing Ministers’ response to the situation in Slough, including the council’s request for exceptional financial support, and what the right medium-term plan might be for Slough, given the scale of the financial and wider challenges facing the council.


The Government will continue to work closely with the political, business, and cultural leadership of Slough, and is committed to making sure the residents of Slough have what they need from their local council, including confidence in its service delivery and financial management and governance.

I have published the directions and explanatory memorandum associated with this announcement at