Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the latest UCAS admissions data, the narrowing disadvantage gap in primary schools and an update on the Taking Teaching Further programme.
Today, Thursday 13 December, UCAS published admissions data showing that a record proportion of students in England and Scotland received university offers. This was reported in the Independent, the Guardian and the Mail.
The record proportion of students being issued offers is great news for young people looking to progress into higher education, and is testament to their hard work. However, there is still work to be done, especially to make sure that every young person has equal opportunity to access and then succeed in higher education.
The Office for Students also announced the outcome of its consultation on access and participation, setting out long-term timeframes for the elimination of disparity gaps. Working towards narrowing the disadvantage gap is a key goal for the Secretary of State, who has called for universities to improve their access and participation plans.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
Whilst potential and talent is evenly spread, the opportunities to make the most of it sometimes aren’t. 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 are all aware of the different rates of access to university for different groups and it’s simply unacceptable for universities not to act to increase their efforts to reach out to potential talent across the country. The data is out there, and I have a simple message to universities: 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 know that university is a key determinant of future success so I want to see the access and successful participation plans that universities are beginning to produce next year take significant action. Access and participation plans should emphasise successful participation that is completion of the full course, followed by quality employment. I see no reason why race or background should be a factor in whether a student can access and benefit from the opportunities that higher education provides – and we must all share a collective endeavour to tear down these barriers where they exist.
Key Stage 2 Attainment
Today, Thursday 13 December, we have released new statistics, which show that the gaps between disadvantaged pupils and their peers in primary schools is continuing to narrow.
The data shows the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed by 13% since 2010 – 3% in the last year. The statistics also show that disadvantaged pupils in multi-academy trusts made significantly more progress in writing and maths than the national average for disadvantaged pupils.
Overall standards remain high with 88% of pupils who met the phonics standard in year 1 reaching the expected standard in reading at the end of key stage 2.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:
Standards are rising in our schools, with 86% of schools now rated good or outstanding as of August 2018, compared to 68% in 2010 and these statistics show that the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has closed by 13% since 2010.
Every child, regardless of their background, deserves a high quality education and opportunity to fulfil their potential. Headteachers are using the freedoms afforded by academy and free school status to make this a reality, as illustrated by the progress disadvantaged pupils in multi-academy trusts are making in writing and maths.
Taking Teaching Further
Today, Thursday 13 December, we announced the opening of the second round for the £5 million Taking Teaching Further Programme. This initiative will invite bids from colleges and providers in an attempt to bring industry professionals into FE teaching. This was covered by FE Week.
Taking Teaching Further has been designed with the Association of Colleges and the Education Training Foundation, who are also delivering the programme on our behalf in order to create further links between the education sector and the industry.
Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Anne Milton, said:
We are transforming technical education in this country with the introduction of new T Levels from 2020, so more young people have access to high quality qualifications which include high-quality training opportunities with a clear path to skilled jobs.
The Taking Teaching Further programme will help attract talented and inspiring people with industry expertise to teach in the further education sector. These are the teachers who can inspire, energise and bring on the next generation of highly-skilled young people.