https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/12/17/education-in-the-media-monday-17-december-2018/

Education in the Media: Monday 17 December 2018

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the Policy Exchange report on classroom behaviour and the NEU report on child poverty. In addition to this there is positive news about apprentices, and a response from the Education Secretary to the Commission for Religious Education.

Policy Exchange Report

Today, Monday 17 December, the Policy Exchange published a report which looks at class room behaviour from pupils in English schools. This was covered in the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and the Mail.

Our ambition is for all schools to be safe and disciplined environments where pupils can fulfil their potential. Schools are responsible for creating such environments as well as delivering the highest quality of teaching.

In 2017, Tom Bennett’s ‘Creating a culture’ report  was published which provides practical advice for school leaders to maintain good discipline and prevent classroom disruption. The report links to the department’s advice on behaviour and discipline as well as the importance of mental health and wellbeing in the context of behaviour.

The government is committed to ensuring that all teachers are equipped with the skills to tackle serious behaviour issues that could compromise the safety and wellbeing of pupils and staff.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Classrooms should be safe, calm and stimulating places for both our children to learn in and our teachers to teach in. Poor behaviour disrupts both learning and teaching, often most keenly affecting disadvantaged young people.

Since 2010 we have taken decisive action to empower teachers to tackle poor behaviour, and many schools are already leading the way in tackling persistent disruption. As these important findings from Policy Exchange show, we now need all schools to follow the lead of the best-performing so that we can build on the rising standards in our schools.

To help school leaders make that happen, we have pledged £10 million for schools to share best practice on behaviour management so that teachers can focus on the most important task – teaching.

Child Poverty

Today, Monday 17 December, the National Education Union published a report into the levels of child poverty in schools. This received coverage from the Guardian, the Independent and the Mirror.

We want every child to have access to the best quality education as well as a good standard of living, which is why the government continues to spend around £90 billion on working age benefits to ensure a strong safety net for those who need it.

We are also working specifically to support disadvantaged children in schools, with £2.4 billion funding going into free school meals for these children through the Pupil Premium. During the summer we also provided funding of up to £2 million to seven organisations to run holiday programmes in disadvantaged areas, so that children could have access to free activities and meals during the school holidays.

A Government spokesperson said:

Teachers shouldn’t have to step in to tackle the issues highlighted by this survey, and we’re already taking action to make sure that they don’t have to. Since 2010 there are 300,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty, employment is at a record high and we’re committed to ensuring that every child gets the very best chances in life.

We continue to spend £90 billion a year on welfare to support those who need it most, have introduced the National Living Wage and helped workers keep more of the money they earn by cutting taxes for 31 million people by an average of £1,000.

On top of this, we’ve introduced funding to support thousands of disadvantaged families in the school holidays to ensure they get the extra help they need.

Apprentices in demand

Today, Monday 17 December, the Times has published an article based on research by the Education Endowment Fund which says that almost three quarters of companies are now recruiting apprentices.

We embrace this news and it is great to see that young people with technical skills are in demand in such a wide range of industries. This is testament to the unique combination of earning whilst learning which apprentices benefit from, and more employers are now benefitting from too.

In 2020 the new gold-standard T Level qualifications will be introduced, which will go even further to bringing technical education on a par with traditional academic education in England.

Religious Education

Earlier this month, on Thursday 6 December, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds wrote a letter to the Commission on Religious Education, in response to their report on the RE curriculum.

While the Education Secretary carefully considered the recommendations in the report, the Education Secretary made a commitment to teachers that he would not make any further significant changes to the curriculum or to qualifications, beyond those already announced, in the remaining lifetime of this parliament until 2022. While considering these proposals he had to balance this against the consequences for teachers. Reducing teacher workload is one of his top priorities, and providing stability while recent curriculum and qualifications reforms are being embedded is key to this. Taking all this into account, he has decided that now is not the time to begin these reforms.

However, we agree that there is a need to continue to recruit and train more specialist teachers of Religious Education teaching. We have therefore improved bursaries so that RE trainees with a 1st, 2:1, 2:2, PhD or Master's will now receive £9,000; increasing the offer for most trainees.

We have also announced new funding for religious education subject knowledge enhancement courses of up to 8 weeks. These offer graduates the chance to brush up on the subject they want to teach before entering initial teacher training or to do this during their teacher training. This may, for example, be in a subject they studied at A level but not at university. Depending on the provider, these may be offered online; through distance learning; face-to-face; or through a mixture of these approaches.

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