Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at school accountability, the OECD report on the UK’s performance in education and reflects on the first year of the 30 hours initiative.
Today, the National Association of Head Teachers will publish a report into school accountability. The report argues that the current school accountability system creates a range of challenges for schools.
We are clear that accountability is important for schools, pupils and parents. A 2017 parent survey by Ofsted found that behind word-of-mouth recommendations (48%), the second most popular measure for parents when choosing a school was the Ofsted report.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
A strong accountability system is important for parents as it gives them information when picking the school that’s right for their children and gives schools essential information to help raise standards for their pupils – and standards are undeniably rising. The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has shrunk by 10% since 2011 and there are 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools – an increase from 66% of children in 2010 to 86% now.
However, we have repeatedly made clear that we want to ensure accountability is proportionate, helps to ensure standards in our schools are high and does not distract high-performing schools from what matters most – providing an excellent, broad and balanced education. Earlier this year the Education Secretary set out principles for a clearer accountability system and he has worked with Ofsted and union leaders to bust some of the myths around workload created by inspections so that teachers can focus on what matters in the classroom.
Today, Tuesday 11 September, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its annual Education at Glance report, which looks at education in the UK compared to the rest of the world. Some of the key points from the report are:
• The UK is in the top three countries for education spending as a proportion of gross domestic product
• The UK offers some of the most generous financial support for students among OECD countries
• The UK Higher Education system attracts second highest number of international students globally
The report found that our schools get more funding per pupil than France, Germany, Japan and many more nations. The UK is also ahead of countries such as France, Italy and Sweden in teacher pay, with teachers who possess 15 years’ experience earning more than their counterparts in these countries, and higher rates than the OECD average.
Financial support for students is also comparatively high in the UK, and a record number of 18 year-olds accepted a place at university on A Level results day this year.
The government is continuing to invest in education, and by 2020, school funding will rise to a record £43.5 billion – 50% more in real terms per pupil than in 2000.
Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds said:
I have been clear that I want to see a world class education for every child, whatever their background and this OECD study showing the great progress we have made in our efforts, highlighting the many strengths of our education system.
Since 2010 there are 1.9 million more children taught in good or outstanding schools, the attainment gap between rich and poor has shrunk by 10% and we have reformed qualifications to make them something parents, universities and employers can trust.
The result of this is that, as the report recognises, we have high levels of young people in education or employment, the financial gains from going to university outstrip the cost and people are more likely to continue learning throughout their lives.
30 Hours Free Childcare
Today, Tuesday 11 September, we are celebrating the first year of our 30 hours free childcare offer. To celebrate this milestone the Department has released new research which shows that thousands of parents are taking advantage of the government’s 30 hours free childcare offer.
It shows that the vast majority of parents (86 per cent) said their children were better prepared to start school ready to learn, due to spending time in government-funded childcare places.
The survey also showed that more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of parents taking up the free 30 hours offer for their three and four-year-olds, reported having saved money, which they were able to invest back into their families and improve their overall quality of life.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi today hosted a celebratory reception in Parliament with parents, children, early years providers and councils.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
Every parent wants to give their child the best start in life and that’s why it’s great to see that the research published today confirms the story I hear so often from parents during my visits up and down the country.
More parents are increasing their working hours, able to work more flexibly, and spending less on childcare so they have spare cash to spend on their families.
Working families of every kind are reaping the benefits, including single mums and parents from lower-income backgrounds, who all told us their children’s development had come on leaps and bounds by spending time in free childcare.
In its first year, more than 340,000 three and four-year-olds have benefited from a 30 hours place. Providers have stepped up to the plate to deliver the offer which is having a significant positive impact on families’ lives.