Today’s news review looks at the National Student Survey results, the EBacc, and children’s social care services.
National Student Survey results
Today, Wednesday 9 August, the National Student Survey results were published.
Overall, the Department is pleased to see that results show student satisfaction is at 84%. Satisfaction with teaching is particularly high, with 85% of students agreeing that teaching staff are good at explaining things and make the subject interesting.
In addition, students said that they are intellectually stimulated and challenged to achieve their best work.
We are, however, determined to push that figure even higher and make sure students get value for money. The new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rewards high standards while the Office for Students will regulate the sector with students’ interests at its heart.
Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:
While overall student satisfaction remains high, we know there is significant variation in teaching quality and outcomes both within and between providers.
“There is more to do to ensure that students and taxpayers investing heavily in our higher education system secure value for money from it. That is why we have created a new regulator, the Office for Students, that will systematically hold universities to account for teaching quality and student outcomes through the Teaching Excellence Framework.
“In the next phase of performance assessment, the TEF will focus on teaching and outcomes at subject level and we are also developing a powerful new teaching intensity metric informed by contact hours and class sizes.
Yesterday, Tuesday 8 August, and today outlets including The Guardian and PA reported concerns of a decline in foreign languages and creative subjects in secondary schools.
Reports suggested that a focus on the EBacc at GCSE meant some schools have seen a fall in demand for languages at A level, while others suggest that the academic nature of the EBacc means creative subjects are being marginalised.
Neither of these concerns are borne out by the evidence. Since the introduction of the EBacc the proportion of pupils taking at least one arts subject has actually increased. While the EBacc sets out the key academic subjects employers and universities value the most, it leaves room for pupils to do other subjects.
Since September 2014, languages have been a compulsory part of the national curriculum in maintained primary schools to lay the foundation for further language study in secondary school.
Along with English, maths, science, and history or geography, secondary school pupils must enter a languages GCSE to enter the EBacc. Prior to 2010, fewer than half – 43% – of pupils were studying a GCSE in a foreign language, down from 76% in 2000.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
The EBacc is a key part of our drive to extend opportunity for all and is already helping children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to benefit from a rigorous education. It is designed to keep pupils’ options open for future study and employment.
“There is no evidence that entries in arts subjects have declined as a direct result of the introduction of the EBacc performance measure. Since the EBacc was announced, the proportion of pupils in state funded schools taking at least one arts subject has increased from 45.8% in 2011 to 48% in 2016.
“Having the opportunity to study a language is an important part of the core academic education that will help young people gain the knowledge and understanding they need to compete in an increasingly global workplace.
“As part of our work to address the historic decline in the study of modern foreign languages, we have made it a compulsory part of the primary curriculum and introduced the English Baccalaureate at GCSE, that includes the study of a GCSE, and which we hope to see 75% of pupils studying by 2022.
Children’s social care services
On, Wednesday 9 August, The Local Government Association (LGA) issued a press release claiming that children’s social care services were under financial pressure.
The money given to councils for local services – £200bn this year – isn’t ringfenced so local authorities can spend it according to their priorities.
We know that since 2010-11, councils have increased spending on children’s social care by around £530 million to nearly £8 billion last year.
The government has driven forward improvements to the child protection system so that children at risk are identified as early as possible and swift action is taken to give them the support they need.
In addition, we are supporting the recruitment and training of social workers so they have the skills they need for this important job, investing over £750 million in bursaries and training programmes. The Department also works closely with Ofsted and underperforming local authorities to monitor their performance and inform any intervention measures.
A Government Spokesperson said:
Every single child should receive the same high quality care, support and protection, no matter where they live. Councils will receive more than £200 billion for local services, including children’s social care, up to 2020. This is part of a historic four-year settlement which means councils can plan ahead with certainty.
“Councils are doing excellent work, spending more nearly £8bn in total last year on children’s social care, but we want to help them make sure they do even more. That’s why we set up the our £200 million Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme to help them develop new and better ways of delivering these services.