https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/01/14/education-in-the-media-monday-14-january-2019/

Education in the Media: Monday 14 January 2019

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at universities, relationships and sex education, the teaching workforce and schools’ budgets.

Universities

Today, Monday 14 January, the University and Colleges Union released a report on university admission processes. This was covered by the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Times Higher Education and i News.

The report reacts to the rise in unconditional offers and proposes changes such as later starts to the university year for freshers.

Universities are rightly responsible for their own admissions policies as autonomous institutions. All universities are expected to be responsible in their distribution of unconditional offers for the benefit of prospective students.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

The current admissions system allows students to choose whether to apply early or later in the school year, giving them time to make an informed choice and consider factors such as finances and accommodation, which are of particular interest to disadvantaged students.

Independent statistics from UCAS show that in 2018 there was a record proportion of 18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds going to higher education and accessing all the benefits it provides. In fact, this proportion has gone up year-on-year since 2012 and disadvantaged 18-year-olds are 52% more likely to go to university than they were in 2009.

Relationships and Sex Education

Today, Monday 14 January, the Schools Minister Nick Gibb will meet with Facebook and anti-bullying groups Diana Award and Childnet. The meeting will revolve around the joint ambition to make the internet a safer place. This was covered today in the Metro.

Facebook has endorsed the proposed new Relationships and Sex Education curriculum, which includes teaching on how to recognise dangers online, including what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like. This curriculum will be mandated across the country from September 2020, although some schools may introduce it as early as September 2019.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

No child should face the fear of bullying. The internet, whilst usually a force for good, brings with it new dangers – that’s why our new online safety lessons will teach pupils about how to use the internet respectfully and sensibly.

I’m pleased that Facebook has recognised the importance of these new lessons, delivered through compulsory relationships, sex and health education classes from 2020 – and charities and other groups are already doing so much to prevent and tackle bullying, both online and face to face. Schools are taking different approaches to successfully reduce bullying among their pupils, but I hope many more will sign up to this ambassadors scheme so that young people understand how to support each other.

We all have a collective responsibility to protect children from this kind of harm, whether as parents, Ministers, business leaders or school teachers. The Telegraph’s ‘Duty of Care’ campaign is an example of how we can all play a role in shaping the kind of society we want for our future generations and preparing them for life in modern Britain.

Teachers

Yesterday, Sunday 13 January, the Observer published an article, which reported fewer teachers from the EU are applying to have their Qualified Teacher Status recognised in the UK.

The proportion of people entering post-graduate initial teacher training in England from overseas has remained broadly stable since 2016-17, according to our most recent data available. We are aware that some EU teachers apply to have their qualifications more widely recognised to expand their opportunities in their current roles, rather than as an expression of interest to work in the UK.

Despite this, we still have ambitions to grow the teaching workforce, which is why we are focusing on many new initiatives as part of our Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, including teacher bursaries and offering taster days.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

There are no great schools without great teachers. There are more than 450,000 teachers in schools across the country – that’s over 10,000 more than in 2010.

The proportion of people entering post-graduate initial teacher training from overseas has been stable since 2016 – and in a competitive market, with unemployment at its lowest level since the 1970s, it’s important that we continue to focus on attracting and retaining good teachers. The Education Secretary has made clear his commitment to recruiting more teachers into our schools, and our upcoming Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy will also help address this.

Education Spending

Today, Monday 14 January, the Mirror and Independent have published articles on Government spending on education.

The Mirror article incorrectly states that “the number of secondary schools in deficit hit 30.3% last year, up from 8.1% in 2014”.

To clarify - this 30.3% figure actually only refers to local authority maintained secondary schools – not all secondary schools.

Overall, with primary and secondary schools combined, 94% of academy trusts and 90% of local authority maintained schools have either a cumulative surplus or are breaking even.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school.

And the overall 5-16 schools budget was one of two budgets protected in 2010, despite the necessary savings that had to be made due to the deficit.

The core schools and high needs budget is rising from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to a record £43.5bn by 2019-20, but the Education Secretary has been clear that he recognises the pressure schools feel on their budgets.

That is why he has set out his determination to work with the sector to help schools reduce the £10 billion they spend on non-staffing costs.

But let's also look at what's happening in our schools: standards are rising, with 163,000 more six-year-olds now on track to be fluent readers than in 2012, a more rigorous curriculum and qualifications, 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools – 86% of schools are now judged to this standard, compared to 68% in 2010 – and a shrinking attainment gap.

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