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Education on the agenda in Westminster yesterday

Posted by Vicki 03 June 2010 : education ,

Education was at the top of the agenda yesterday in the House of Commons – an issue of prime importance to race equality given the different attainment levels of various ethnic groups.

In his first Prime Minister’s Question Time, David Cameron reiterated commitments made in the coalition agreement to introduce a pupil premium in schools, stating that  this will benefit the poorest children by helping them attend the best schools. Given that some BME groups are among the poorest in society this initiative is likely to have an impact on race equality, although the extent of this will not become clear until full details of premium are announced in the Education and Children’s Bill.

Later in the afternoon, the new education secretary Michael Gove came head to head with former education secretary and labour leadership candidate Ed Balls when he gave a speech on his government’s education reforms. In the exchange, Gove stated that there will be no cuts in front-line funding for schools, Sure Start and sixth forms. He also argued that there are currently wide performance gaps between private and state schools, adding that this goes against principles of both social mobility and justice.

Hackney MP Meg Hillier also contributed to the debate, highlighting the large number of pupils in her constituency for which English is a second language. Further to this, she stressed the importance of ESOL provision in education.