2nd reading for proposed holiday hunger bill – Friday 19 January 2018

This week I report on the second reading of the proposed School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill, the Education Select Committee’s views on tightening up academy trust accountability and concerns around Ofsted’s recent report on the reception curriculum.

MPs urged to back holiday hunger bill
A private members bill proposed by Labour MP Frank Field will get its second reading in the House of Commons today. If passed, the School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill will give councils a legal duty to ensure free meals are provided to children who need them during the school holidays.

Mr Field chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on hunger, which revealed in its report in April last year, that giving just over £100,000 a year to every council would could end holiday hunger. The bill proposes a modest initial pilot of the free meals and activities duty, to be imposed on councils in areas of high deprivation in England, as identified in the English Indices of Deprivation. A report reviewing the pilot scheme would then be published within a year. Under the terms of the bill, local authorities would be required to “facilitate and coordinate” the provision of meals and activities during the holidays.

Education Committee’s views on academy trust accountability
This week the Parliamentary Education Committee suggested the Government should publish “scorecards” for academy trusts and base decisions on whether they are allowed to grow both on educational and financial performance.

The Committee Chair, in a letter to Lord Agnew, the Academies Minister, warned of a lack of joined-up accountability in the school system, particularly over failed trusts, demanding improvements to the way their performance is assessed by officials and communicated to parents and staff.

Concerns raised about Ofsted reception report
Early years experts and teachers are among those who have signed a letter raising concerns about Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings report on the reception curriculum, calling for it to be “withdrawn”. Their concerns include that its recommendations will mean the reception year becomes less based on play.