https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/11/29/education-in-the-media-thursday-29-november-2018/

Education in the Media: Thursday 29 November 2018

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at unconditional offers from universities, the National Apprenticeship Awards and a story on SATs exams.

Unconditional Offers

Today, Thursday 29 November, UCAS has issued a report, which looks at university applications and the number of unconditional offers being given to young people. This received coverage from the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph, the Independent and the Mail.

The report shows that more than a third of all 18-year-olds applying to university this year were handed an unconditional offer. It says this is an increase from just 2% in 2013 and that the key risk is that unconditional offers distract the pupils that receive them from their studies, resulting in their grades dropping.

We expect universities to be responsible in the way that they use unconditional offers. It is essential that they are only issued where appropriate; so that students can properly weigh-up the decisions they make regarding their chosen course of study and preferred university.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Unconditional offers have long played a legitimate role, for example in ‘portfolio’ subjects such as Fine Art.  But this very steep rise in their use across a much wider range of subjects is disturbing. This report shows that many students could be distracted from the final year of their schooling, and achieve A Level grades lower than they are capable of.  These are effects that we know can have a significant impact on their career.

The systematic use of unconditional offers is not in the interest of students and they should not be used just to get people through the door. I expect universities to use them responsibly and where institutions cannot justify the rising numbers being offered I have made clear to the Office for Students that they should use the full range of powers at their disposal to take action.

National Apprenticeship Awards

Yesterday, Wednesday 28 November, the ceremony for the National Apprenticeship Awards 2018 took place in London. This was covered by TES and FE Week.

The National Apprenticeship Awards recognise and celebrate the work of apprentices and employers across the country. Last night’s ceremony looked at excellence in apprenticeships and showcased some great individual success stories.

The 2018 awards included over 1,100 apprentices, employers and individuals from over 200 English towns and cities.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Apprenticeships are an excellent way for anyone to gain new skills and forge a career in anything from aerospace engineering to nursing. The National Apprenticeship Awards is a fantastic event to celebrate the achievements of apprentices, employers and training providers, and I want to wish all the winners and nominees congratulations on their incredible efforts.

SATs Tests

Today, Thursday 29 November, the I News reported on maladministration regarding SATs exams in primary schools.

Any school that administers the national curriculum assessment and tests are required to do so in-line with the published statutory Assessment and Reporting Arrangements and Test Administration Guidance.

However, it should be considered that annulled results do not always mean intentional cheating.

A DfE spokesperson said:

Exam results are annulled for many reasons and it is not always because of intentional maladministration.

These statistics show the strength of the primary testing system, with only a small minority of the 16,000 schools, where pupils took national curriculum tests having maladministration confirmed. Only 0.12% of the total number of schools doing tests at key stage 1 and 0.49% at Key Stage 2.

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