Today’s Education in the media blog looks at tuition fees for students from the EU, children placed in care in Kent, a report into inequality in the school system and how we are supporting parents to teach their children from home.
Today, Monday 2 July, the Department announced that the maximum tuition fees that a university is able to charge students will be frozen for the second year running. In addition, we confirmed that students from the European Union starting courses in England in the 2019/20 academic year will continue to be eligible for ‘home fee status’ – meaning they will be charged the same tuition fees as UK students.
Today’s announcements builds on the Prime Minister’s pledge last October that the Government would freeze maximum tuition fees for full-time undergraduate courses in 2018/19 at £9,250 – and increase the amount borrowers can earn to £25,000 before they need to repay their loans. This will save over half a million graduates up to £360 this year.
The announcement was covered by the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and the Guardian.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
I want everyone with the talent and potential to be able to take advantage of our world class universities. We’ve already raised the amount of money graduates need to earn before starting to pay back their student loans, and freezing tuition fees for another year is another example of the steps the Government is taking to support those in higher education.
Students from the EU make an important contribution to the universities sector and it is a testament to our system that so many students from abroad choose to come and study here. Today we are providing clarity and certainty on their fees for the duration of their courses.
Children in care
Yesterday, Sunday 1 July, the Sunday Times ran a story about headteachers in Kent expressing concern that children are being placed in out of borough care in Kent. Headteachers have said that placing children in care in their borough leaves children vulnerable to illegal activities and abuse. This was followed up today by the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
We are clear that councils have a legal duty to ensure decisions on placements are in the best interests of the young person. We are analysing data on the use of these placements to help us understand what is driving local authority decisions and practise. This includes considering whether there is increased likelihood of placing young people away from home in areas where demand for placements outstrips supply.
A Government spokesperson said:
This Government is committed to reducing out-of-area placements for children in care. Councils have a legal duty to make sure decisions on placements are in a young person’s best interests – this includes the location.
We continue to work closely with Directors of Children’s Services, who must approve any decision to move a child out of their home area, and we are supporting councils in London so fewer children are placed in homes beyond their borders, which is backed by part of a £200million programme.
Stability is key to improving these young people’s outcomes, so our Serious Violence Strategy includes £11 million to help steer them away from crime, and we are investing £13 million to protect those at risk of sexual or gang exploitation and peer abuse.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 3 July, the UCL Institute of Education will release a report on inequality in the school system which they say is linked to issues such as teacher numbers and school funding. This was covered exclusively by the Observer on Sunday 1 July.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We want to improve education for every child. This government has introduced the £2.5 billion Pupil Premium to support the education of disadvantaged pupils, and since 2010 we have seen the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers narrow by over 10% in both primary and secondary school.
Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, the vast majority of pupils are in a good or outstanding school, 1.9 million more than in 2010, and an increase from 66% to 86% over that time.
And thanks to our reforms schools that aren’t delivering for young people are being turned around, with 65 per cent of schools made into a sponsored academy seeing improvement from inadequate to good or outstanding.
But there is always more to do, which is why we are investing £23 billion by 2020 to create more good school places and we are targeting £72 million at the areas that need it most to help improve prospects and opportunities for some of the most disadvantaged young people.
Learning at home
Yesterday, Sunday 2 July, we launched a £6.5 million fund to boost parents’ confidence with learning at home. Parents who need help teaching their children reading, writing and language skills will get practical help, such as home visits and online tools. Voluntary and community groups will get a share of the multi-million pound fund to run projects that help disadvantaged families and children with additional needs, building on the free childcare offer already available to the most deprived two-year-olds.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
Giving every child the best start in life means making sure the right early development opportunities are in place. That starts in the home, which means giving parents the confidence to help their children read, learn new words and social skills at an early age.
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with additional needs can face the greatest barriers in their early development, so it is important that where that help is needed it is in place as early as possible – such as through our free childcare for two-year-olds from lower income families which is used by more than 70% of those who are eligible.
This funding boost will go to organisations with a proven track record of breaking down learning barriers for children with additional needs. This is an important part of this government’s work to improve education for every child, to make sure that this is a country that truly works for everyone.
Read more about this funding for learning from home here.