Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at new plans for an enrichment checklist, widening participation in higher education, the latest statistics on apprenticeships and a new project to recruit skilled professionals into teaching.
Yesterday, Thursday 22 November, the I published an interview with the Education Secretary Damian Hinds, about the upcoming launch of an enrichment list of activities, which aims to help young people to build character and resilience. This was followed up today by articles in the Sun, the Star and the Mirror today.
The idea was inspired by the Education Secretary’s visit to St Werburgh’s Primary School in Bristol, where children had a passport of activities, which they were encouraged to take part in over the course of the school year, both during the school day and at home.
The new enrichment list is being worked on in collaboration with external organisations such as Action for Children and Parent Kind, and will support schools in encouraging children to take part in a range of activities outside of the classroom. This list is outside of the curriculum and will in no way be assessed or measured.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
Bluntly, it is about doing stuff that doesn’t involve looking at a screen. It’s about getting out and about.
We put a lot effort into making sure we can share really good curriculum plans and teaching materials. This is an equivalent of that for stuff outside the curriculum in recognition of the fact that what you do academically is only part of the story.
We hope having a list itself helps to stimulate a conversation about all the brilliant things to discover when you are growing up.
Everybody can remember somebody who left school with no GCSEs or O levels, but went on to do something spectacular.
Qualifications are obviously not the only thing, and I tend to think the difference is everything you can’t write on a certificate – drive, tenacity, sticking with the task at hand. And being able to bounce back from the knocks that inevitably come to all of us.
Yesterday, Thursday 22 November, the Higher Education Policy Institute published research on the spending of tuition fees by universities. In addition to this, the Public Accounts Committee released a report on the sale of the student loan book. These reports have been covered by BBC Online, the Independent, the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph, the Metro, the Sun and the Financial Times.
Nominal, undiscounted cash flow predictions do not represent the value of student loans to Government today. Therefore, as well as taking into account foregone repayments, the Government’s valuation also reflects: the time value of money, the effect of inflation, the riskiness of the asset, and the opportunity cost of having money tied up in that asset. Having taken these factors into account, the National Audit Office clearly found that this sale of student loans offered value for the money for the taxpayer, and was carried out efficiently.
The National Audit Office also found that the sale had no impact on borrowers or current students. The sale will categorically not result in private investors setting the terms or operating the collection of repayments. Sold loans continue to be serviced by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Student Loans Company (SLC) on the same basis as equivalent unsold loans. Investors have no right to change any of the current loan arrangements or to directly contact borrowers.
Following both the aforementioned reports, we released our annual statistics on widening participation into higher education. These statistics show that record a record 25.6% of pupils who receive free school meals are progressing to higher education.
The Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
There are no limits to any child’s potential and while that potential and talent is evenly spread, the opportunities to make the most of it sometimes aren’t. Today’s data show in some areas and for some communities just how stark that difference is.
There is no reason why a white working class child growing up in Sunderland or Somerset should be less likely to go to university than any other child growing up in this country. We need to challenge ourselves, ask why that is and what we can do about it. I want universities to work with us. Use this data, look at your own admissions policies and work out what you can do to ensure that your university is open to everyone who has the potential, no matter their background or where they are from.
We’ve already made some key changes. Universities have to publish offer and acceptance rates by gender, ethnicity and social background so the OfS can take action if needed to drive improvements in access. Universities can only charge the maximum fee cap if they are taking genuine steps to increase access and participation. And we need to think about successful participation - completion of university course and employment prospects - as we seek to build further on these improvements.
The proportion of children going to good or outstanding schools has risen but we know education begins long before they enter the classroom. That’s why we are working with a range of organisations to tackle the gap in the early years before children start school that can hold young people back throughout their school life. Our Opportunity Areas and Opportunity North East programmes are rallying businesses, charities and education organisations to work with us to help raise aspirations for all.
Yesterday, Thursday 22 November, we announced a £10.7 million funding boost for three organisations – Now Teach, Cognition Education and The Brilliant Club – to recruit business leaders and PhD graduates into the teaching profession.
This investment seeks to build on the teaching workforce by focusing on recruiting people from leading careers and fields of study to share their skills in key subjects. There will be an emphasis on recruiting in priority subjects such as Maths and Physics, as the scheme looks to recruit and support up to 600 teachers over the next two years.
The Telegraph has also run a comment piece by Lucy Kellaway, who founded Now Teach after retraining as a teacher. She emphasises in her piece that the challenge of retraining is outweighed by the rewards of teaching.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:
Education is all about the teacher standing at the front of the classroom. We have one of the most talented generations of teachers working in our schools and we want to build on that.
By focusing on skilled professionals who want to change careers and PhD graduates, we can ensure pupils are benefiting from the broadest range of skills, expertise and life experience. This approach will help drive up education standards further so young people are acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.