https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/02/01/education-in-the-media-thursday-1-february-2018/

Education in the media: Thursday 1 February 2018

Today’s education in the media looks at school uniform, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership report and Pupil Premium funding.

School uniform

There has been wide reporting today, Thursday 1 February, ahead of a speech Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman is making at the Church of England’s schools conference on British values.

In the speech, Amanda Spielman will warn that British values are being ‘undermined’ by people who use religion to ‘actively pervert education’. She has also stepped in to support the headteacher of St Stephen’s Primary School in Newham, Neena Lall, who has reportedly experienced bullying and intimidation over banning the hijab at the primary school.

This has been covered by the Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express who all reference the continuing row over the hijab at St Stephens school.

We are very clear that extremism has no place in our schools, which is why we have changed the law and the requirements on schools so that they have to actively promote the Fundamental British Values of democracy.

We are also absolutely clear that violence or bullying in any form is unacceptable and has no place in schools.

We back individual schools to set uniform policies and we expect them to consider the needs of their pupils, and to listen to the views of local parents.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Extremism has no place in our society – that’s why we changed the law and the requirements on schools so that they have to actively promote the Fundamental British Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and the mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. If there are any allegations of schools promoting ideologies or discrimination in the classroom, we will not hesitate to take action.

Intimidation or bullying of any kind towards school staff is also completely unacceptable and anyone who feels they are facing such behaviour should report it to their employer or the police, if necessary. We back individual schools to set uniform policies but we would expect them to consider the needs of their pupils, and to listen to the views of local parents. This is made clear in the guidance we publish to help schools understand their responsibilities.

Northern Powerhouse

Today, 1 February, a report was published by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, led by former chancellor George Osborne, calling on the Prime Minister to ‘focus on poor education attainment in the North of England’. The report claims that pupils in the north of England are, on average, one GCSE grade behind comparable pupils in the South.

The story has run prominently across broadcast media including an interview with George Osborne on the Today Programme and analysis of the findings on BBC Breakfast and Sky News. The report was also picked up by the Daily Mirror, Guardian, Sky News, BBC Online, FE Week, Schools Week, Northern Echo and Yorkshire Post.

The government has made clear its commitment to support schools in the North, which can be seen through the Social Mobility Action Plan, the £72 million invested in areas across the country, including the north through the Opportunity Areas Programme and our recent investment to improve literacy in schools in these areas.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Standards are rising thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, with 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools since 2010 and nine out of ten schools awarded this rating at their latest inspection.

We want all pupils to benefit from a world-class education that inspires them to make the most of their lives, no matter where they live or their background. That’s why we launched our Social Mobility Action Plan, which sets out a range of action including targeting the areas that need the most support through the £72million Opportunity Areas programme and our recent investment in literacy to help every child arrive at school with the vocabulary levels they need to learn. This builds on the £2.5billion we provide to schools to help raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils through the Pupil Premium.

Pupil premium

On Wednesday, 31 January, the Labour party issued a press release claiming that the Pupil Premium has been cut by over £140 million since 2015 despite the Conservatives pledging to protect it in their 2017 manifesto.

The claims made in the press release are wholly untrue – we have fulfilled our promise to protect the pupil premium rates during this spending review period.

This has been received limited pick up and has been covered by the Mirror and i news.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: 

These figures are grossly misleading. The fact is, we have fulfilled our promise to protect pupil premium rates – investing over £11bn since 2011 to help support their most disadvantaged pupils and close the attainment gap at both primary and secondary level.

The cash amount per pupil has remained the same and the changing funding levels simply reflect the fact that the number of eligible pupils has fallen.

We have already set aside an extra £1.3 billion for our schools over the next two years, which means per pupil funding for schools will be maintained in real terms over this period.

For more information on school uniform, see our guidance to schools, governing bodies and local authorities.