https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2016/08/26/education-in-the-media-26-august-2016/

Education in the media: 26 August 2016

Profile of an African American Teenager with copy space.

Todays news review looks at academy finances, GCSE results and the government's 30-hour free childcare offer.

Academy finances

The Local Government Association (LGA) has today, 26 August, called for councils to have the power and resources to monitor academies – particularly over how they spend their budgets.

The story was picked up by Radio 4’s Today Programme, the TES and BBC Online.

We are clear that one of the main strengths of the academy system is that where issues of any kind are identified we can take swift action.

Academies’ annual accounts are scrutinised by an independent auditor who determines whether they are true and fair - this is not the case for local authority schools.

In 2013/14, academies’ expenditure was £100 million less than income.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

All academies operate under a strict system of oversight and accountability – more robust than in council-run schools — ensuring any issues are identified quickly. Unlike other schools their accounts are scrutinised by an independent auditor and we have considerably more financial information about academies than we ever had for council-run schools.

 

The academy programme puts control of running schools in the hands of teachers and school leaders - the people who know best how to run their schools. They also allow us to tackle underperformance far more swiftly than in a council-run system where many schools have been allowed to fail for years.

GSCE results

On Thursday, 25 August, the GSCE results were released and received widespread coverage across broadcast, in print and online.

The Times reported that there were increased entries in physics, biology and chemistry, which was welcomed by the Royal Society.

The Evening Standard’s leader was clear that that the resits are a necessary means of raising education standards and improving social mobility.

However, some media outlets, including the Guardian and the Daily Mail, questioned whether resits in maths and English are the best way to test young people who are already disengaged in the subjects.

What the coverage does not fully recognise is that this summer thousands more young people aged 17 and over successfully resat their maths and English GCSEs at colleges and schools across England. 51,200 maths exams sat by students aged 17 and over were graded A*-C – up from 30,000 in 2012. For English, the equivalent figures were 34,500 in 2016, up from 21,100 in 2012.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We want an education system that properly serves everyone, regardless of their background, so even more pupils can secure the qualifications that gives them the best possible chance for the future.

 

We make no apology for ensuring young people leave school with a good understanding of English and maths. This summer thousands more of those aged 17 and over successfully resat their maths and English GCSEs, with more than 50,000 achieving a good pass in maths and more than 34,000 achieving a good pass in English.

 

This is vital to ensure they have the foundations to take the next steps, whether that is further education, an apprenticeship or a rewarding career.

Yesterday the Education Secretary Justine Greening and School Standards Minister Nick Gibb congratulated the hundreds of thousands of 16-year-olds who received their GCSE results.

Nick Gibb also wrote for the today’s Telegraph about our focus on building an education system that serves everyone.

Childcare

The Today Programme ran a piece on the government’s 30-hour free childcare offer this morning. The piece reported that there are funding concerns from providers in York, one of eight councils chosen to deliver the programme a year early, to help get it right for September 2017.

The 30-hour offer builds on our record investment in childcare - £6 billion by the end of this Parliament – and we are consulting on plans for a fairer funding system for nurseries and preschools. Both of these have received widespread support.

The BBC put forward accusations from some childcare providers in York that they will lose income under this new funding system – but under our proposals, York Council’s funding is set to increase and more of this money will be pushed through to providers. In fact, York’s funding rate under the Early Years National Funding Formula (EYNFF) will increase by 16% to £4.27 per hour, per child compared to the amount they received in 2015-16. Providers (both private and maintained) can expect to see an average increase of 17% in 2017-18.

The BBC package also suggested that the 30-hour offer may not be truly ‘free’, with nursery owners claiming they will have to ask parents to pay additional charges to meet their costs. This fails to recognise the additional £1 billion per year we will be investing in the early years by 2019-20, including £300 million per year from 2017-18 for a significant increase to the average rate paid for the two-, three- and four-year-old entitlements.

Providers have always been able to charge parents for discretionary items such as food and nappies, or additional services like trips off-site or music lessons – but these must not be compulsory charges. They are absolutely not allowed to be a condition of a free place.

We are committed to ensuring parents can access flexible childcare arrangements to meet their working patterns – but we have been clear that it is for providers to determine how they manage their free places and we encourage them to work closely with parents to respond to demand. Our early implementers programme will be testing different models to see what works best, and our recent consultation on delivery set out a number of proposals to encourage flexibility, including enabling parents to access a childcare place both during term time and in the school holidays.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We are doubling our free childcare offer for working parents to make it easier for them to get on and balance work with their family lives. We will be spending a record £6 billion on childcare by the end of this Parliament and recently published plans for a fairer funding system for nurseries and preschools, which received widespread support.

 

We had huge demand from local areas to take part in delivering our 30 hour offer a year early and the eight areas that were chosen – including York – will help us get the delivery of our offer right so we can hit the ground running in September 2017.

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