Education in the media: Thursday 1 March 2018

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at Secondary School offer day and the latest on university strikes.

Secondary school offer day

Today, Thursday 1 March, is the day that parents will find out what secondary school their children are going to at the start of the next academic year.

The number of good school places is an incredibly important issue for parents, who want their child to get the best education possible. Thanks to reforms and investment made by the department, there are 735,000 more school places – with 136,000 in the last year alone – for English children at secondary school compared to 2010. On top of this, the quality as well as quantity of education has increased. According to Ofsted figures, there are now 1.9 million more good or outstanding school places than in 2010.

All of this means that the overwhelming majority of children are going to one of their preferred schools. Figures from last year show that over 8 out of 10 children were able to attend their first choice of secondary school, and the number rises to well over 9 out of 10 children when looking at offers for one of their top three secondary school choices.

On top of this, our reforms mean that disadvantaged children have benefitted significantly from an improved education. Since 2011, the disadvantage gap has narrowed by 10 per cent in secondary schools, and the attainment gap has narrowed by 3.2 per cent. As well as this, more pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, Special Educational Needs pupils and pupils on free school meals are being entered for English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects compared to last year, ensuring pupils have the knowledge and skills they need for future success.

The offer day has been covered by the Independent, Telegraph and the Mail.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

This morning, thousands of pupils will find out which secondary school they will be going to this September and thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, 1.9 million more children are now going to good or outstanding schools than in 2010.

We are raising standards across the country so that every child can go to a good school where they are taught the knowledge and skills they need for future success and we’re investing £5.8 billion to create even more good school places. This builds on the 735,000 places we’ve created since 2010 – meaning nine out of ten pupils get one of their top three choices of schools.

University Strikes

Yesterday, Wednesday 28 February, Minister Gyimah attended the launch of the Office for Students, following which the Minister discussed his views on the compensation issue for students at universities affected by the ongoing strikes.

The minister’s comments on compensation specifically were covered by BBC News online, the Financial Times and Independent.

At his speech yesterday, Minister Gyimah was clear that universities are under great scrutiny, as part of a wider push toward greater responsibility and accountability to students; the minister was clear that he wanted to see universities embrace – and not fight – this change.

On top of this, the minister was very clear that he would like to see all universities impacted following the example of universities who have already stated they will offer compensation to students affected adversely by the strikes.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

It is encouraging to see that mediators have moved in to try and help negotiate a way forward and prevent further disruption to young people’s studies.

Students should not lose a day of the education they are paying for and I expect young people to get compensation for the lost study time, as some universities like Kings College London have already started looking in to. Universities should also look to provide additional lectures where they are missed due to strike action, which is so important at this time in the academic year.

Today is World Book Day! To see what is the Secretary of State’s favourite book – and why – check out our video with the Secretary of State here.