https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2016/10/31/education-in-the-media-31-october/

Education in the media: 31 October

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Today’s news reviews looks at a report from think tank ResPublica, alongside coverage on how far parents are prepared to travel to get their child to a grammar school. It also addresses a misleading article in the Mirror about our 30 hours free childcare pledge.

ResPublica report

On Monday, 31 October, think tank ResPublica issued a report, commissioned by Knowsley Council, suggesting that new grammar schools could transform the prospects for white working-class children in Britain.

The report - Achieving Educational Excellence in Knowsley: A Review of Attainment - found that of all pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, white British children were least likely to do well. It found that selective schools could be "transformative" in these working class areas where aspiration is low.

It also calls for the Government to focus on grammar schools in deprived areas where there are little or no middle class families to dominate the admission system.

The report was covered widely in print, broadcast and online, including The Times, Daily Telegraph, ITV News, Daily Mail and the i.

We welcome this report and the initiatives suggested to improve standards in Knowsley.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

This research shows the transformative impact grammar schools can have on the life chances of less well-off pupils. That is why we are consulting on proposals to tap into that expertise and spread that knowledge across the system so that every child has access to a good school place.

Distance travelled to grammar schools

On Sunday, 30 October, the Telegraph reported that demand for grammar schools is so high that on average parents travel three times as far to drop their children off than at other secondary schools.

Children have to travel 3.1 miles on average to get to grammar school, compared to just 1.1 miles for non-selective schools. This is further evidence that there are not enough grammar schools to meet demand from families.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

We want to build a country that works for everybody, regardless of their background, and education lies at the heart of that.

 

We already know grammar schools are popular with parents, and these figures underline the effort they are willing to make for their children to attend a good school.

 

Our proposals will help create more great school places within easy reach of parents, wherever they live, so their children have the chance to fulfil their potential.

30 hours free childcare

On Sunday, 30 October, the Mirror published a piece on childcare provision, claiming that maintained nursery schools are running out of money. It claims the government’s pledge to deliver 30 hours of free childcare is "at risk".

We are continuing to work with nurseries, playgroups and childminders in all local areas to get ready to deliver our 30 hour free childcare offer to working families next September – this includes working with them on the financial support they need.

It is also important to note that maintained nursery schools – which this article focuses on – make up a small but important part (2.8%) of the support that families depend on, and are not necessarily representative of the wider sector.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Maintained nursery schools make up a small but important part of the childcare families rely on, particularly in deprived areas. That’s why we’ve committed an extra £55 million funding per year to give these nurseries stability for at least the next two years – this is backed up by our record £6 billion investment in childcare by the end of the Parliament.

 

We will be consulting on maintained nursery schools in due course and will continue to work closely with the sector on this.

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