Over the summer, Ben Howlett, the Member of Parliament for Bath, raised the issue of child poverty and the support schools can give to pupils in poverty with the Secretary of State for Education, highlighting Saint Gregory’s, Bath as an exemplary school committed to the provision of high quality education for all.
During Education Questions, Mr Howlett asked the Secretary of State, ‘What steps her Department are taking to encourage schools to broaden opportunities available for disadvantaged children.’
In reply the Rt Hon. Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, said ‘Our education reforms are giving every child, regardless of background, a strong academic grounding and rigorous education. Through the pupil premium, a 2010 Conservative party manifesto commitment, we have invested an extra £6.25 billion in schools so that all pupils can fulfil their academic potential. Disadvantaged pupil attainment is increasing and the gap between them and their peers is closing.’
Mr Howlett subsequently asked, ‘I thank my Right Honourable friend for her answer. In my constituency of Bath, as she will know, some estimates put one in five children living in child poverty and many local schools are doing a fantastic job to give local children who are on pupil premium equal opportunities. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the introduction of the pupil premium by this government is improving their outcomes?’
Nicky Morgan responded, ‘Can I thank my Honourable friend for his question. I can absolutely confirm that the pupil premium is having an impact. It is right that most disadvantaged pupils are supported by targeting funding which is why we are continuing to provide the £2.5 billion pupil premium this year and made a commitment to it in our manifesto. It is down to excellent schools like Saint Gregory’s Catholic College in Bath for using the best evidence based strategies to transform pupils’ life chances.’
Upon leaving the chamber, Mr Howlett commented: ‘I am assured by the Secretary of State’s response that the Department of Education is taking the issue of child poverty in Bath seriously and that pupil premium is helping all students to fulfil their potential. St Gregory’s, like many other schools across Bath, provide vital support for children and young people in Bath and I would like to thank them again for all of their hard work. Child poverty is a serious issue which I am determined to tackle over the next five years and I am delighted that the Department of Education are also working tirelessly to find a resolution.’
Headteacher, Raymond Friel, said, ‘I am delighted that our school has been praised as an example of schools that continue to provide exceptional education to all children equally. We strive to continuously promote the dignity and well-being of every child and ensure that they flourish with us in a safe, happy and enriching environment.’
‘This recognition is testimony to the very high quality teaching found at Saint Gregory’s and to the hard work and dedication of our team.’