Page 3 | Webchat with Conservative Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, TUESDAY 28 April at 11.30am

(145 Posts)

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RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 24-Apr-15 17:01:32


We're pleased to announce the second of our three politics webchats this week with Nicky Morgan, who was Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities until Parliament dissolved earlier this month. She will be joining us for a live webchat on Tuesday 28 April at 11.30am.

Nicky is the Conservative candidate for the Loughborough seat. She has done a couple of webchats with us before; in one of them she made some headlines after saying that 'no option is off the table' when questioned about whether the Conservatives should consider all-women shortlists to improve women's representation in Parliament.

Since becoming Secretary of State for Education, Nicky has been perceived by some as taking a less combative approach to teachers and the education sector than her predecessor, Michael Gove. She has emphasised the importance of 'freedom' for schools, and has said that tackling unnecessary workload is a priority. There has been some controversy about her vote against the Equal Marriage Act; she has also announced plans to include issues like consent in sex education lessons.

Do join us at 11:30am on Tuesday 28 April to talk politics, education and other important issues with Nicky. As ever, if you can’t make it then, do leave a question for Nicky on this thread. And please remember our webchat guidelines.


OP’s posts: |
Maladicta Tue 28-Apr-15 11:36:08

I'm a mature student just about to start a Primary PGCE. I'm deeply concerned by the number of newly qualified teachers who drop out of the profession - the figure I've seen most recently is 40% within the first five years.

What are you doing to stem this?

Erinoco Tue 28-Apr-15 11:36:35

Dear Ms Morgan

Was it really kind to the pupils of Durham Free School to force them all to join new schools at the start of the Summer term, with only a few months left until the end of the school year? Some I know are really suffering with this, especially the kids with SEN - as are the local schools who have had to accommodate them all at such short notice.

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 11:37:12


Is there such a thing as consistency in our primary schools. My 6yr old son has had 10 teachers in his first 18months of School and has covered the same topics term after term. I am struggling to make sense of it all let alone him?

Hi dixiechix1978,

10 teachers in that time period does seem unusual and I certainly don't want to see young people rehashing the same work and topics. Have you raised it with the school or the governors, or been given an explanation as to why?

More broadly I want to see a general period of stability in our schools to let the reforms we've put in place over the course of this Parliament settle down, and to let us get some real evidence about the impact these reforms are having on young people's attainment and achievement.

EElisavetaOfBelsornia Tue 28-Apr-15 11:38:38

What is your position and that of your Party on Home Education?

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 11:42:17


Why go to all the expense and effort of a workload survey without offering any concrete solutions, just promises about having a longer lead in time for new initiatives? You say that many aspects of workload are down to senior managers in school and that is true, but most school based workload by SMT is generated by fear of ofsted.

Hi clopper,

I've noticed a couple of questions about teacher workload, so if it's ok I'll take a few of them at once.

Firstly I recognise that teacher workload is an issue for teachers - and in particular workload that detracts teachers from what they do best, inspiring young minds. That was the whole reason why I launched the workload challenge and I was delighted that 44,000 teachers took the time to respond.

In our response we set out some important initial steps towards reducing workload, as you mention that includes longer lead in time, but also work with Ofsted and a commitment to support schools to share resources that avoid them having to reinvent the wheel. In our manifesto we've committed to doing more to reduce the burden of Ofsted inspections.

But to be clear, as I said in my conference speech last year, I don't think that there is a silver bullet when it comes to teacher workload, but there are more things we can do in the short, medium and long term. That of course involves working hand in hand with the profession. I very much hope I have the opportunity to take this work forward.

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 11:44:26


You voted against the Equal Marriage Act.

Why are you homophobic?

Hi LineRunner,

I'm not.

What I've always asked is that people should judge me on my record in the job. Since taking over the role of equalities minister I've launched a £2 million fund to tackle homophobic bullying, released extra funding to help support LGBT activists overseas and commissioned work to support homelessness and domestic violence among LGBT people.

On the specific issue of equal marriage, my personal position has changed and I would now vote in favour. But I think we do have to be careful about using that one vote as a litmus test for people's wider beliefs.


Natgaff Tue 28-Apr-15 11:45:56

Currently there is one entire morning dedicated to special educational needs on the pgce course! That is clearly not enough.

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 11:49:11


What are your priorities as minister for women and equalities and do you consider yourself a feminist?

Hi wickedwaterwitch

On your second question - yes absolutely.

On the first I think the two key parts to my approach as Minister for women is firstly to ensure that women have the choice to be able to live their lives in the way that they want to and secondly to ensure that there is no limit on the aspirations of our young women and girls.

We've done a huge amount of work to realise both of those goals, from campaigns to encourage more young women to consider careers in traditionally male dominated sectors, to support for women in business, to shared parental leave. In the next Parliament I want to go further and our commitment to introducing an additional 15 hours of free childcare for working parents is a key part of that.

At the same time I also want to support vulnerable women and girls. Tackling domestic violence at home and violence against women and girls more broadly across the globe is paramount. I think we've got a great record in this area, from Clare's Law to new legislation on revenge porn, to William Hague's work on the international stage. Over the next 5 years I want to build on the investment we've put in to support vulnerable women.

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 11:49:52


Currently there is one entire morning dedicated to special educational needs on the pgce course! That is clearly not enough.

I agree! My hope is that programmes like Schools Direct will see special schools playing more of a role in using their expertise for training from day one.

DFSMum Tue 28-Apr-15 11:50:06

In response to LineRunner's question and the response from Ms Morgan. Sir Michael Wilshaw told the Education Select Committee that there was 'very bad homophobic bullying' going on at Durham Free School, yet this wasn't in their OFSTED report. Where did he get this information from and can you verify this statement in your role of equalities minister? The school was not homophobic!

ReallyTired Tue 28-Apr-15 11:51:51

Could you allow some flexiblity when the phonics check is done. I am sure that my daughter could have passed the phonics check at the end of reception. Instead she is bored rigid working on her phonics for the year 1 phonics check. I feel that bright children should be able to get on with other aspects of literacy IF they have taken and passed the phonics check at the end of reception.

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 11:53:08


Teachers in this country are looked down upon by parents, government ministers and the media as being workshy whingers. How will you support teachers in becoming better understood and respected as professionals as they are in countries such as Finland and Singapore?

Hi DoctorLawn,

For starters I really don't think this is the case, one thing that unites politicians on all sides of the political divide is their respect for the teaching profession. As a parent myself I can tell you I have the utmost respect for the people who teach my child and based on my conversations with parents I think that's common across the board.

That said, I do think that the teaching profession hasn't always been regarded in the same light as others such as medicine or law. I think a key part of that is that teachers haven't had a body like a Royal College to be the custodian of professional standards and to lead the development of the profession. That's why I was pleased one of my last acts in the previous Parliament was to announce support for an independent college of teaching that I think will address many of the issues that you raise.

Margalot Tue 28-Apr-15 11:54:43

As equalities minister and a so-called protector of human rights, does Nicky Morgan think her treatment of Durham Free School was fair and just? There are three parts to my question: a.) why didn’t she come and visit the school, b.) why did she ignore all the letters from us parents (and those of our kids) and c.) why was the decision made to close the school the day before its first OFSTED monitoring inspection was due, that, given the progress made by the new Acting Head, could have seen it come out of special measures?

Incidentally it would appear that the treatment of our school has breached several human rights acts and equalities acts.

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 11:55:33


Could you allow some flexiblity when the phonics check is done. I am sure that my daughter could have passed the phonics check at the end of reception. Instead she is bored rigid working on her phonics for the year 1 phonics check. I feel that bright children should be able to get on with other aspects of literacy IF they have taken and passed the phonics check at the end of reception.

Hi ReallyTired,

Interesting question. The phonics check is having a truly transformative approach to young people's reading, with 100,000 young people now reading better than in 2010. I pay huge tribute to my colleague Nick Gibb for championing the introduction of phonics.

But the point you raise is an interesting one - we already have resits for pupils who don't pass the check first time, but perhaps we could look at opportunities for those who are more advanced to take it at an earlier point - I absolutely want to see schools stretching the brightest pupils which I know many good schools already do.

TwoLeftSocks Tue 28-Apr-15 11:58:03

How would you improve the provision for children with SENs who are in mainstream school. Special schools are generally great (though in short supply) but there are many who struggle in mainstream, in classes of 30, but aren't high needs enough to qualify for EHIPs.

What would you do to support them more so that they can shine at their (often non-academic) talents?

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 11:58:11


Its seems only fair to ask...

Nicky, you too have a tremendous head of hair. What are your top tips for looking unruffled in PMQT?

Hi ElizabethHoover,

Having watched PMQs back a few times I'm not sure I agree with your assessment of me as "unruffled", but thank you anyway!

For once I agree with Tristram in that I have to thank my hairdresser Kate. But he's completely got it wrong on washing your hair before bed!

IceBeing Tue 28-Apr-15 11:59:40

Having seen the MNHQ comment about things important to MNers, there were at least two whole threads taken over by discussion of the morals of religious discrimination in state funded schools! I hope my question will get noted because of them.....

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 11:59:41

I can see lots of questions about Durham Free School, which I'll absolutely come to in a second, I just want to plough through some of the others first.

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 12:02:28


Will you if in office after the election give parents the discretion to defer their summer borns.

In practice this is almost impossible at the moment in England as leas force parents to put children straight into year one if they defer.

My DS is a summer baby and has mild delay. He is likely to be operating at age around 3.5 approx and will be in a class where he is the very youngest by age and the average child is a year ahead developmentally. As his delay is mild he doesn't qualify for any additional support.

Hi Springtimemama,

Lots of questions about summer born children today, hope you don't mind if I try and group them together.

Firstly I completely understand that this is an issue for many parents and something we're going to look at again if we're in a position to after the election.

But we have already done some work in this area - we've actually revised the government's guidance to make it more flexible because we do believe that the parents of summer born children should have greater choice about this. The new guidance stresses that these decisions should be made locally by admissions authorities in conjunction with parents and taking into account the views of head teachers. Ultimately it's about what's best for the child and we have now formally written that into the guidance we have published.

As the schools minister Nick Gibb told the Education Select Committee just last month, admissions authorities and headteachers do need to do what's in the best interests of the child and it's right that decisions on whether to admit a child outside of their normal age group are made at a local level based on the individual circumstances of each child.

The select committee has now asked us to consider what more we can do and we are happy to look at that, but the guidance is absolutely clear that the flexibility is there and the interests of the child should always be put first.

miniegglover Tue 28-Apr-15 12:06:56

Ms Morgan

You state that you are happy with your son's primary education providers, which is good, but looking forward a few years, if you weren't happy with the choice of secondary school in your local area for your son, what would your options be?

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 12:08:04


It was recently announced that a Conservative government would force children who do not achieve the expected level in Y6 to resit their SATs in Y7, in exams that would be marked by teachers - adding to workload and encouraging teachers to inflate figures to avoid government penalties if fewer than the target of 80% pass.

Given the poor reception this policy received, on here and elsewhere, how can you defend yet another attempt to fatten a pig by weighing it?

Hi noblegiraffe,

Thanks for your feedback on the new policy.

Let me be entirely honest, I don't want to be in a position where any child is having to take a resit test in Year 7 and we shouldn't be in that position. My hope is that as our reforms take effect we'll soon see almost every child who is able leaving primary school reading, writing and adding up well.

But the truth is we're not there yet. I'm incredibly proud of the fact that the number of young people who are leaving school unable to read, write and add up properly has fallen from one in three to one in five. But that's still too many. We know that of that one in five only 7% go on to achieve 5 good GCSEs including English and maths - which just shows how their performance at 11 can hold them back for the rest of their lives.

So this check is about making sure that all young people get those basics right, and those that don't the first time have a second chance to do it. Of course good secondary schools are already making sure young people catch up and putting our £500 catch up premium to good effect, but I want every school to be doing the same.

As for the 80% target it's wrong to assume this is all about penalties, we've said we'll consult on an appropriate level and those schools that don't reach it will receive extra support to get up there.

slug Tue 28-Apr-15 12:09:01

"But I think we do have to be careful about using that one vote as a litmus test for people's wider beliefs."

How on earth are we supposed to judge your beliefs if not from your actions?

NickyMorganMP Tue 28-Apr-15 12:11:29


What is your position on the morality of religious discrimination against four year olds?

I know children who have been refused a place at their local school, the one all their friends from nursery are going to because they are the wrong religion or no religion.

Is it moral to discriminate and is it even sensible to segregate education by religion given our climate of fear of extremism?

Personally I would support integration all the way, and an end to faith schools.

Hi IceBeing,

I know faith schools is a much debated topic on Mumsnet, so thank you for the question.

I fully support Britain's faith schools and I know our church schools in particular do a fantastic job at educating young people.

As part of that I do think it's right that schools are able to select young people on the basis of their faith - but I know many faith schools cast the net much wider than this already.

I'm very keen to promote religious integration and tolerance and we see some fantastic examples of schools of all faith and none working together to promote this. It's also the reason that I changed the Religious Studies GCSE so that now students won't only be able to study one religion, usually their own, but will have to study another as well.

BoffinMum Tue 28-Apr-15 12:12:10

12:08 answer is unsubstantiated - in fact you were criticised for saying a large percentage of children could not read at 11, and taken to task publicly.

IceBeing Tue 28-Apr-15 12:12:31

hmm rather than giving them an extra exam, wouldn't a better solution to children aged 11 who are not at a level at which they can make a successful move to secondary school be to give them an extra year to catch up before they move to secondary?

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