Today’s news review looks at the Education Select Committee report on teacher shortages, the Department’s announcement to crack down on academic fraud, and the Women and Equalities Committee report on the gender pay gap.
Today, Tuesday 21 February, the Education Select Committee issued a report on the shortage of teachers in England, calling it a ‘major challenge’. The report calls on the government to focus on teacher retention, concerns about teacher workload and continued professional development.
Our latest Initial Teacher Training figures show teacher retention has been broadly stable for the past 20 years, with 7 out of 10 teachers still in the classroom after 5 years. There are 5,850 maths and science trainees this year – an increase of 12 per cent on 2015. Physics teacher recruitment is also up 15 per cent on 2015.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
There are more teachers in England’s schools than ever before with secondary postgraduate recruitment at its highest since 2011. We are investing more than £1.3billion in recruitment over this parliament and have recruited more trainees in key subjects like physics and maths than last year.
We recognise there are challenges. The Secretary of State has set out her ambition to continue driving up standards through investment in professional development so the best teachers stay in the profession. Initiatives like these, the Opportunity Areas programme and the Teaching and Leadership Fund will also help increase recruitment and retention in areas that have struggled.
Today, Tuesday 21 February, the Department for Education announced plans to work with key higher education stakeholders to produce sector-led guidance on the use of essay mills – websites which provide fraudulent, custom-written essays for students to submit as part of their degree. The new sector guidance will suggest action that universities should take against students caught using essay mills. There will also be guidance for students that makes the risks of using an essay mill clear. This was covered by the BBC, the Telegraph, Times, Guardian, Mail, Sun (p.7) and the Mirror (p.12).
The use of essay mill websites was uncovered by a Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) report, commissioned by the Government and published last year. This found that websites often advertise their services to students for a fee and many promote ‘plagiarism free guarantees’ or essays tested against plagiarism detection software.
Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:
This form of cheating is unacceptable and every university should have strong policies and sanctions in place to detect and deal with it.
Essay mill websites threaten to undermine the high quality reputation of a UK degree so it is vital that the sector works together to address this in a consistent and robust way.
Gender pay gap
The Women and Equalities Committee has today, 21 February, issued concerns that the Government is not effectively tackling the structural causes of the gender pay gap. The report criticises the Government’s response to their recommendations on eliminating the gender pay gap. This has been covered by BBC, Guardian, FT, The Independent, ITV News, Daily Mail, inews and HuffPost. There was also a report on the Today programme.
The UK’s gender pay gap is at a record low but we have to push further to eliminate it completely, which is why the Government is introducing requirements for all large employers to publish their gender pay and bonus data from April 2017.
A Government spokesperson said:
We are committed to tackling the gender pay gap and our policies, which aim to balance the needs of employees and businesses while addressing this gap, are working.
We now have the lowest gender pay gap on record, around 60,000 more people a year are taking advantage of the right to request flexible working and the introduction of Shared Parental Leave gives parents extra flexibility and we will continue to evaluate this as it beds in. Women over 40 can also get support in the workplace through the National Careers Service.
But we know there’s more to do. That’s why we are requiring employers to publish their gender pay and gender bonus gap for the first time from April and we are giving working parents of three and four year olds up to 30 hours of free childcare from September.
You can see more information about the gender pay gap reporting requirements here.