Education in the media: Friday 9 March 2018


Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at topics that will be raised at the Association of School and College Leaders’ conference today and an international survey into parent’s attitudes to their children’s education.

ASCL Conference

Today, Friday 9 March, is the first day of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference. The union trailed a number of speeches set to take place today, including from Education Select Committee member Lucy Powell MP, Confederation of British Industry President Paul Drechsler and ASCL union President Carl Ward. On top of this, the union has published a survey on children’s mental health and social media.

Lucy Powell’s speech will focus on oversight and accountability in the school system.

The speech by CBI President Paul Drechsler’s will discuss the encouragement of thought and creativity in the education system in addition to a more academic curriculum.

The speech by ASCL President Carl Ward will discuss the various policy changes that the Department for Education has undergone over recent years and how this has affected the education system.

The various announcements were covered by Schools Week, The Independent, TES, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Today Programme and other outlets.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

This Government’s long-term reforms are about giving a world-class education to everyone, whatever their background, and they are working.

Thanks to the hard work of teachers, there are now 1.9million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers is falling and our young readers now rank among the world’s best.

We must further raise our game to be fit for the future which is why we are introducing new gold-standard GCSEs and new technical qualifications like T-levels which will be on a par with A-levels, providing genuine choice for young people.

Mental Health

ASCL has conducted a survey that claims a majority of headteachers believe social media is damaging children’s mental health. The Independent (p14), i News (p23), Mail (p23), Telegraph, TES and Sun (p21) have all reported on this survey.

To support schools, the Government has pledged £1.7 billion to help promote, protect and improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Our proposals outlined in the children and young people’s mental health green paper will provide significant additional resources for early mental health intervention for all schools – over £300 million has been made available to support these.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We recognise that growing today not only bring immense benefits to our children but also new challenges too

We are taking action to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online by introducing a social media code of practice, an annual transparency report and we have funded guidance on how schools can tackle cyberbullying. These measures include setting standards and tracking companies’ progress in stamping out online harm.

We are also looking at how we make sure pupils are taught about mental wellbeing and the effect of internet harm as part of our work to improve Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Personal Social and Health Education in schools.

Varkey Foundation

Today the Varkey Foundation has published a survey on international trends concerning parents’ views and attitudes toward their children’s education systems. The survey polled 27,380 parents across 29 countries.

The survey was covered by BBC News, the Daily Mail, TES and the Press Association, with all the pieces leading on the statistic that UK parents spend less time helping their children with their homework than in many other countries.

There are many positive statistics to come from the survey, including that 87% of UK parents rate the quality of teaching at their child's school as fairly or very good. The majority of UK parents – 68% – also felt that the quality of state schools was fairly or very good, compared to the survey average of 45%.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Academic standards are rising in our schools and thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers 1.9 million more pupils are now in schools rated good or outstanding than in 2010 and nine out of ten schools were given this rating at their latest inspection.

We are pleased to see that parents feel confident in the quality of teaching in our schools and we are continuing to invest in bringing more excellent teachers into the profession. We are also investing over £41 billion in school funding and have spent £5.8bn to create 735,000 more good places across the country since 2010.