Education in the Media: Tuesday 6 March 2018

Today's Education in the media blog looks at faith schools, the 'Troops to Teachers' initiative, National Apprenticeship Week and mandatory reporting.

Faith Schools

Yesterday, Monday 5 March, seventy faith leaders, politicians and academics wrote to the Daily Telegraph to call on the government to not lift the faith cap and allow schools to admit more children based on religion.

The letter was covered in The Daily Telegraph extensively, including a copy of the letter in full appearing in the print edition. The piece refers to the Secretary of State’s previous comments that he would look into the issue around faith schools.

We have been clear that we want to ensure that all young people have access to a good school place and we are keen for faith groups to play a key role in this. Faith schools have long played an important role in our education system, both in terms of academic success and contribution to the wider common good. The Department is currently in the process of responding to the Schools that Work for Everyone consultation, which includes future plans for faith schools.

A Department for Education spokesperson:

The government is committed to offering parents and children a diverse education system with wide variety of high quality providers – and this includes faith schools. We will be responding to the Schools that Work for Everyone consultation, including plans for the faith cap, in due course.

Troops to Teachers

Following coverage in last week’s Sunday Times, today the Daily Mail has run a positive piece on the ‘Troops to Teachers’ initial teacher training initiative, run jointly by the Department and the Ministry of Defence. It was also covered on broadcast by Good Morning Britain.

The initiative provides ex-service personnel with a £40,000 bursary to retrain as a teacher from this September, as well as universities nationwide offering incentives on courses to veterans who have left full time employment from the Army, Air Force or Navy in the last 5 years.

The scheme replace the existing Troops to Teachers programme, and will provide greater flexibility to ex-service personnel by enabling them to train with any Initial Teacher Training provider, while still receiving the same level of financial support.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Academic standards are rising, with 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools and a record 15,500 more teachers than in 2010. We want this trend to continue and to explore every opportunity to attract the best and brightest into teaching.

Our ex-servicemen and women – who have already contributed so much to our country – have a wealth of experience and expertise that can be shared in the classroom, teaching pupils the knowledge they need to succeed alongside vital skills, such as leadership and self-discipline.

Mandatory reporting

Yesterday, Monday 5 March, the Department published a joint response with the Home Office to the consultation ‘Reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect’, which includes proposals on mandatory reporting for professionals working with children. The original proposals for mandatory reporting would mean that professionals could face criminal sanctions for failing to report known or suspected child abuse to the relevant authorities.

In a written ministerial statement, Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins stated that the case for mandatory reporting had not been made but sets out plans to strengthen information sharing between police, social workers and healthcare professionals to tackle child abuse and neglect, and to improve joint working and decision-making. The announcement was covered by The Independent, The Guardian, and Community Care among others.

Teachers already have a responsibility to report any suspicions they have about abuse or neglect of a child and there are a number of ways that they can report this. England has a higher rate of reporting than countries where mandatory duties are in place, and the evidence from serious case reviews, Ofsted inspections and the consultation responses does not suggest there is a systemic problem.

Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said:

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the social workers and other professionals who support the most vulnerable in our society, especially those who have been victims of abuse.

The response to this consultation shows the strength of feeling among the sector on this extremely important issue, and it’s vital that we work directly with people on the ground, supporting them to carry out their work sensitively and efficiently.

Decisions we make as a government should be with the ambition of improving outcomes for as many in society as possible, which is why we must listen to the views and experience of the sector as we progress further with our reform agenda.

National Apprenticeship Week

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, The Guardian and The Times have both run interviews with Minister Milton on the benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship.

In The Guardian, the Minister notes that university should not be seen as the default option for young pupils, and that apprenticeships give pupils the option to “sail ahead of their peers”. The coverage in The Guardian also includes a wide range of positive pieces, including on the breadth of apprenticeship options, and how apprenticeships can offer a degree-level education without debt.

The Times ran an article from the Minister that outlines the quality of apprenticeships, stating that degree apprenticeships combine a high-quality degree with an apprenticeship, and that all apprenticeships are jobs-first whilst bringing with them a strong level of education.

Find out more about National Apprenticeship Week here.