Today our blog looks at a number of topics including school funding, apprenticeships, university offers, employment and training, resilience and vulnerable families.
Today at Prime Minister’s Questions, the Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn spoke about the level of funding going into our schools, which the Prime Minister responded to.
We have been clear that there is more money going into our schools than ever before, and since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every 5 to 16 year old in every school and made funding fairer across the country.
Figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that real terms per pupil funding for five to sixteen year olds in 2020 will be more than 50% higher than it was in 2000.
However, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and have introduced a wide range of practical support to help schools and head teachers, to help schools make the most of every pound on non-staff costs.
We have also provided schools with funding for additional pressures – such as an extra £940million to cover increased pension costs for 2019/20 so state-funded schools and colleges can focus their resources on providing the best education.
The Secretary of State has made clear that as we approach the next spending review, he will back head teachers to have the resources they need to deliver a world class education.
Today, Wednesday 22 May, the Public Accounts Committee will publish their progress report on our apprenticeship programme. The report includes a number of findings, including that the number of apprenticeship starts has fallen by 26% in the 2017-2018 academic year compared to the 2015-2016 year. This was covered by the Telegraph, the Times, the Financial Times and the Mirror.
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, Anne Milton said:
We are making apprenticeships better. They are now longer, higher quality and have more off-the-job training - a point the PAC acknowledges.
We are increasing the numbers of people with learning disabilities or from BAME backgrounds starting apprenticeships. We have projects aimed at helping people from disadvantaged areas to achieve an apprenticeship with all the benefits it provides.
Our reforms have also seen more employer buy-in giving employers greater control so they can invest in the people and skills they need. Companies like BAE Systems, JP Morgan, Marks & Spencer and Lloyds Banking Group are embracing the system and supporting the development of new high-quality apprenticeships.
There is still work to be done, but we won’t sacrifice quality for quantity and I’m thrilled that the number of people starting on our new high-quality apprenticeships has risen by 79% in the first half of 2018/19 compared to the same period last year.
We are considering the PAC’s recommendations carefully and will respond in due course.
Today, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds has welcomed the response from numerous universities to his call last month for institutions to stop the practice of issuing ‘conditional unconditional’ offers. This has been covered by the Times, the Mail and the Metro.
The Education Secretary has also written an article for the Times Red Box on this, where he emphasises the importance of maintaining exceptional educational standards in our country.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
Our universities are world-class and world-leading, with four ranked among the top ten across the globe. At the heart of that global reputation is a trust in the quality and high standards of the education provided – this reputation is hard won and should be fiercely protected.
That is why I am delighted by the actions taken so far to rise to the challenge of preserving that quality. I wholeheartedly support PayPal’s decision to withdraw services from essay-writing firms that are exploiting university students. This is a big step forward towards beating academic cheating but we now need more organisations to follow suit – it is their moral duty to do so.
I also welcome the responses from the universities I wrote to regarding their use of ‘conditional unconditional’ offers – particularly those who have informed me that they have ended this practice or committed to reviewing it.
Today, the Office for National Statistics published data on the number of people not in education, employment or training (NEET). The data says this number has fallen by 24,000 from October to December 2018 and is down 34,000 when compared to January to March 2018. This was covered by the Telegraph, the Times, the Metro and the Star.
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, Anne Milton said:
We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to get the skills needed to get on in life which is why it is good that these latest stats show that once again the number of 16 to 24 year olds not in education, training or employment has fallen.
Since 2010 youth unemployment has halved and the Government is investing nearly £7 billion during the 2018/19 academic year to make sure there is a place in education or training for every 16 to 19-year-old who wants one.
This is alongside our reforms to post 16 education including our high quality apprenticeship standards and the new gold standard T Levels – the technical equivalent to A Levels – being rolled out from 2020.
Today, as part of its Next Generation special edition, the Mirror has published an article based on an interview between the Education Secretary and two pupils.
The interview is wide-ranging and includes conversation around dealing with the stress of exams, and using the experience to prepare for later life.
Keeping Families Together
Today, the Times published an article based on words from Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi about the department’s £15 million fund to keep families together. The Minister emphasised the importance of projects such as this to ensure that vulnerable families get the support they need.