Education in the media: Thursday 22 February 2018


Today’s Education in Media blog looks at news around the schools admissions code, the University College Unions strike action , education export statistics and Minister Nick Gibb’s editorial on education standards.

School admissions

Today, Thursday 22 February, The Telegraph reported on a letter sent from Minister Nick Gibb to academies and local authorities outlining proposed changes to the Schools Admission Code. In the letter, the Minister calls for children from overseas who have previously been in care to be given the “highest priority” for places, where a school is oversubscribed.

The Telegraph article claims the proposed changes will mean schools should prioritise foreign children who grew up in care “over British youngsters”.

This is misinterpreted – this is about children, who originally were looked after children from outside England, that have been adopted by a family that is permanently residing in England.

Admission authorities in England can’t prioritise on the basis of nationality. It relates to children who will require a school place in England because they are living here, and have been adopted by a UK family from a care system in another country.

Children adopted from care can remain vulnerable and may have experienced abuse and neglect prior to being placed in care; supporting their education is part of ensuring they have the same opportunity as all other children to thrive.

We keep the admissions system under regular review and consider what changes we can make to ensure the admissions system continues to work effectively.

A DfE spokesperson said:

Children in care are amongst the most vulnerable in our society and wherever possible they should be admitted to the school which is best able to meet their needs. School admission authorities have been required to give looked after children the highest priority in their admission arrangements since 2007. This priority was extended to previously looked after children in 2012, to ensure that all children who receive highest priority whilst in care of the local authority continue to receive that priority once they have left care.

The department is looking to amend the Admissions Code, to ensure that children previously in care outside of the country are given the highest priority when considering school admissions.

Education export statistics

Today, Thursday 22 February, the Department published new figures highlighting just how much our education sector is generating for the UK economy - estimated to be £19.3bn, an increase of 19% since 2010.

The new figures show:

  • Total education exports and transnational education activity was estimated to be £19.3billion in 2015, an increase of 3% since the previous year and an increase of 19% since 2010.
  • Two-thirds of the revenue (£12.9 billion) from total education exports and transnational education activity is generated by higher education.
  • The majority of the revenue came from international students (non-EU and EU) who contributed £11.5billion in terms of living expenditure and tuition fees to total education exports and transnational education activity.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

The UK is a world-leading destination for education, study and research, and we want this to continue. I am delighted by the latest figures showing how much our education exports, including international study, are generating for the UK economy - estimated to be £19.3bn, an increase of 19% since 2010.

International students play a vital role in our society, bring greater diversity to our campuses and a welcome income to our wider economy. Their contribution alone is continuing to rise year-on-year, with today’s data showing an approximated £11.5bn contribution to our economy. This is particularly encouraging as we have since seen a rise in the number of both EU and international applicants to our universities.

Minister for Investment, Graham Stuart said:

Education broadens minds, provides the foundation for open and prosperous societies and gives Britain the skills we need to remain globally competitive.

As an international economic department we’re building on strong educational export growth, up 3 per cent on the previous year. Our specialist education team links UK providers to our extensive diplomatic network of 108 markets around the globe and has already helped more than 100 UK schools expand internationally.

Education standards

Today, Thursday 22 February, the Telegraph published an editorial piece from Minister Nick Gibb on reforming education standards.

Minister Nick Gibb writes that raising school standards for pupils from all backgrounds is the government’s driving force, and sets out an ambition that all Commonwealth countries should provide every child with at least 12 years of quality education by 2030.

University College Union strike action

Today staff in around 67 universities have walked out in a dispute over their pension scheme. This is the first of 14 days of strike action that will run until March 16.

There has been wide spread coverage of the strikes today. This includes prominent coverage running on the BBC and Sky news, as well as print coverage in the Times, Guardian, FT, ‘I’ and Mail.
Universities are responsible for their own pension provision, which is overseen by the independent Pensions Regulator. However, we are concerned about the impact of the strikes on students. Students rightly deserve value for money when they invest so heavily in our education system, and particularly at this crucial time with many taking their final exams soon.

Responding to the strike action today Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

I am deeply concerned about the impact this strike will have on students, who deserve to receive the education that they are paying for. For many, this is a vital time in their studies.

I am speaking to both Universities UK (UUK) and the University and College Union (UCU). I call on them to get back to the negotiating table, without pre-conditions, and to find a solution that avoids further disruption to students.

Where any strike action takes place, we expect universities to keep a close eye on the impact on students, and to put in place measures to maintain the quality of education that they should receive.

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