I am pleased to announce that Henry Smith MP (C, Crawley) has agreed to be a Guest of Honour at ICMI21, the second Conservative MP to do so (the other being Lee Anderson). William Collins and I will interview him in advance, Elizabeth Hobson and I will host his live Q&A.
Henry addressed four penetrating written questions to ministers in June and July of 2021. They’re here, along with the evasive responses:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the learning gap between girls and boys.
Nick Gibb (Minister of State for School Standards) – reply on 21.6.21
The Department recognises, and continues to monitor, the educational attainment gap between girls and boys. We have worked hard over the last decade to embed the reforms needed to raise standards for all children. Thanks to these efforts, the proportion of schools now rated by Ofsted as Good or Outstanding has risen from 68% in 2010 to 86% in 2020.
The Department does not design education policy that exclusively targets certain groups of pupils, including policy based on gender. We are committed to providing high quality education and training for everyone, regardless of their background.
When it comes to raising standards, evidence shows that teachers are the most important in-school factor affecting pupils’ education. The Department has recently announced an investment of over £250 million in our National Professional Qualifications and Early Career Framework programmes which are based on the best available evidence and have been developed in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation. Through this, the Department is committed to helping tackle the educational attainment gap for all pupils.
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether the Government has made an assessment of the potential merits of appointing a Minister responsible for male-specific issues.
Kemi Badenoch (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities) – reply on 17.6.21
The Equality Act requires the interests of both sexes to be considered when assessing equality impacts. The Government is focussed on delivering genuine equality of opportunity by addressing the real problems people, whatever their sex, face in their everyday lives using evidence and data.
That is why we recently announced the Equality Data Programme, a comprehensive project to improve equality data, enhance our understanding of equality, and get to the heart of the barriers all people face.
As ministerial appointments are made by the Prime Minister, any changes to ministerial titles would be a matter for him to consider. However, all Equalities Ministers have a responsibility to carefully consider issues affecting men and boys as part of their remit even where this is not necessarily indicated in their job title.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department is developing to tackle specific health issues affecting men and boys.
Jo Churchill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care) – reply on 6.7.21
The Department does not have a specific men’s health strategy. Relevant issues are identified and policy developed on a condition specific basis.
Henry Smith – reply on 13 July, 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to Answer of 21 June 2021 to Question 10325 on Education: Gender and with reference to the attainment gap between girl and boys, if he will design education policy to target pupils who are falling behind in their attainment to help close the attainment gap between boys and girls in education.
Nick Gibb (Minister of State for School Standards) – reply on 13 July, 2021
The Department recognises, and continues to monitor, the educational attainment gap between girls and boys. We do not design education policy that exclusively targets certain groups of pupils based on gender. The Department is focused on providing world class education and training for everyone, whatever their background.
The Government recognises that extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education and is committed to helping pupils catch up. The Department has announced over £3 billion to support education recovery and pupil premium is providing over £2.5 billion in the 2021/22 financial year targeted at disadvantaged pupils.