Today’s Education in the media blog looks at GCSE reforms and children in care.
Today, Monday 20 August, several papers including the Times, the Daily Mail, the i, and Telegraph have all published pieces looking at the effect that our GCSE reforms could have on this year’s results. This includes how many pupils will achieve the top grades (8 and 9) under the new grading system compared to those who achieved an A* in 2016, and how the results could be affected by the measures Ofqual has introduced to ensure no student taking the new qualifications for the first time will be penalised.
We have been clear that the new 9-1 grading system will ensure employers and educational institutions know whether students have taken the reformed, more challenging GCSEs or not.
The top grade 9 is also designed specifically to be more difficult to achieve than an A*, to acknowledge outstanding performance.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We want all children to have a world class education, including those of the highest ability. Our new gold-standard GCSEs don’t just raise academic standards but the new grade 9 provides stretch at the top end of the ability range to recognise and reward truly exceptional performance.
Yesterday, Sunday 19 August, the Observer published an article about children in care and the range of support offered by different local authorities. The piece is based on analysis by the think tank Social Market Foundation which looked at a wide range of issues. The analysis suggests that children in care are less likely to perform highly at school, and are more likely to suffer from exclusions.
The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed by at least 10% since 2011 and our reforms to the curriculum are raising standards at both primary and secondary schools.
To ensure this continues, we are targeting support for some of the poorest areas of the country through our £72m Opportunity Areas programme whilst our Social Mobility Action Plan is focusing £800 million of resources on helping disadvantaged children.
An ongoing review of school exclusions, externally-led by Edward Timpson, is also exploring the way schools use exclusions, and why some groups appear to be excluded at a disproportionate rate.
Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi said:
Where a council fails in its duty to keep a vulnerable child safe, we will not hesitate to intervene – since 2010, 45 councils have been lifted out of intervention and not returned, and we are taking action to improve services in the weakest areas. We have made £200 billion available to councils up to 2020 for local services including those for children and young people, and a further £270 million is supporting councils to develop innovative programmes to improve the lives of these vulnerable children.
We want every child to have the best start in life, with the opportunities and the stability to fulfil their potential. That is why this government is working hard to improve the system protecting the most vulnerable children, to make sure those at risk are identified early. And through our Children in Need review, we are identifying how to raise their educational outcomes.