Today’s Education in the media blog looks at the latest exclusion statistics and an NAO report on the sale of the student loan book.
Yesterday, Thursday 19 July, the department released its latest exclusion statistics, showing the number of permanent and fixed period exclusions in England from 2016/17.
The statistics were covered by The Times, Independent, Guardian, Mirror, Daily Mail, Metro and Telegraph. The majority of coverage leads with the point that up to 40 pupils are being excluded from schools every day, with some also picking up on the rise in permanent exclusions due to sexual misconduct.
It is important to note that the rate of permanent exclusion in the most recent exclusion statistics is 0.10 per cent of pupils, which is lower than the peak of the permanent exclusion rate of 0.12 per cent in 2006/7.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:
We want every child to benefit from a world class education, with the right support in place, so they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Schools should only use permanent exclusions as a last resort but we do support teachers in taking proportionate and measured steps to ensure good behaviour in schools.
Whilst we know there has been an increase in exclusions there are still fewer than the peak ten years ago. We recognise some groups of pupils are more likely to be excluded than others which is why we launched an externally-led review to look at how schools are using exclusions and why certain groups are disproportionately affected. We are also transforming alternative provision to improve outcomes for children in non-mainstream education, which is backed by £4million innovation fund.
Today, Friday 20 July, the NAO released a report looking into the sale of the student loan book by the government, which they agreed represented value for money. The report was covered The Times, Financial Times, Daily Mirror, Independent and Guardian, with most leading on the suggestion that the sale represents a £604m loss for the department. However, many of the pieces do note that the sale has reduced the national debt by £1.7bn.
Contrary to media coverage this morning, the DfE and HMT do not disagree about the way in which the value of the student loan book is measured. The Government is completely transparent about the ways in which the different accounting and valuation measures are applied, and as the NAO make clear in their report on the sale, these accounting valuations are not intended to reflect the price that the market is willing to pay for these loans.
A Government spokesperson said:
The NAO report has recognised, the sale of the pre 2012 student loan book was conducted efficiently, represented good value for money for taxpayers, and does not affect borrowers. It also successfully strengthened the public finances and raised £1.7 billion.
Student loans are designed so that borrowers only repay when they can afford to - this gives more people the chance to go to university and get on in life, but also means many students will never fully pay back their loans. The Government has been completely clear about why the face value of the loans was higher than the sale proceeds and, as the report notes, these were older loans so many borrowers had already repaid in full by the time of the sale.