https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2016/08/22/education-in-the-media-22-august-2016/

Education in the media: 22 August 2016

Gang Of Teenagers Hanging Out In Urban Environment

Today’s news review looks at a government study of health and wellbeing, university fees, and our new Core Maths qualification.

Mental health

Today, 22 August, The Times reports on the findings of a DfE study which surveyed 30,000 young people on a broad range of health and wellbeing issues. The survey was published in July this year.

The article reports that a third of middle-class girls are suffering from symptoms of “psychological distress” and girls are more than twice as likely as boys to suffer symptoms of depression. However, it fails to reflect the extent of the work being done across government to tackle the issue.

It should be noted that the funding for children’s mental health in this research does not take into account the £1.4 billion investment over this parliament, which is one of the largest investments the sector has ever seen.

Overall mental health funding increased to an estimated £11.7 billion last year.

A Government spokesperson said:

Children’s mental health is a priority for this government and we know that intervening early can have a lasting impact. We are putting a record £1.4 billion into transforming the dedicated mental health support available to young people across the country and are working to strengthen the links between schools and mental health services.

 

We are also driving forward innovations to improve prevention and early support, by investing £1.5 million on peer-support networks in schools so children feel empowered to help one another.

University fees

On Sunday, 21 August, The Sunday Times reported on student loans and the average amount that students are expected to repay. The article speculated that graduates are facing an interest rate of up to 4.6% and could end up repaying more than £100,000.

It also claimed that students had been ‘mis-sold’ the loans due to the way the repayments are calculated.

The Independent and the Metro followed up on the story.

We have made clear that graduates pay back their loans at a rate of 9% of earnings above £21,000, meaning repayments are proportional to earnings, not debt levels.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Interest rates are linked to RPI to ensure that student funding remains sustainable in the long term. There is extensive information and support to help borrowers understand the loan terms, and they must sign a declaration that they have done so.

 

As the OECD has recognised, our student funding system is sustainable with a relatively high threshold before borrowers have to repay their loan. It removes financial barriers for anyone hoping to study with outstanding debt written off after 30 years. Graduates enjoy a considerable wage premium over non-graduates and repay their loans in line with income - at a rate of 9% of earnings above £21,000.

Core Maths

Today, 22 August, The Times reports on the government’s new Core Maths qualification which is designed to make sure every teenager continues to study the subject until the age of 18.

The article speculates that only one in seven schools is offering pupils a chance to take core maths. Low recognition among parents and unwillingness by universities to include it in their entry requirements are some of the reasons that have been blamed.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

This data reflects the first year the Core Maths qualifications were examined and we are confident entries will rise in the future. We are delighted thousands of pupils have taken the course, which teaches them practical maths skills that will help them in all walks of life.

 

Mathematics is essential and it is encouraging to see rising numbers of people studying maths post-16. Maths is still the most popular subject at A level and the Core Maths qualifications - which have been welcomed by universities, employers and teachers - provide another valuable alternative for those wishing to continue studying it after GCSE.

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