Today’s blog focuses on the recommendations published today on post-18 education, as well as funding for special educational needs.
Today, Thursday 30 May, the Post-18 Education Review Panel, led by Philip Augar, published its recommendations to government. The report makes recommendations across higher and further education, including cutting tuition fees to £7,500 per year, extending the repayment period of student loans, and making reforms to further education. This was covered by the Telegraph, the Times, the Guardian, the Mail, the Mirror and the Sun.
As the Prime Minister said at the launch event for the panel’s report this morning, this government is dedicated to making higher education accessible to everyone and we have welcomed the work of the panel.
Government will now look carefully at the recommendations in full and conclude the review in due course.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
Our world-class higher education system can transform lives and are a great contributor both to our industrial success, and to the cultural life of the nation. Higher education can be a great engine of social mobility, open up a world of opportunities and broaden horizons.
This report acknowledges fully the key truth that our further education colleges also play a vital role in performing these functions. Too often we have had in our country a bias towards higher education, but we need to recognise equally the opportunities in both.
Our current student finance system is a fair and progressive one, but it is right to look at it again, to ensure it continues to work for our whole society. There are very high quality courses across the full range of subjects, from creative arts to medicine – but there are also courses where value, in its widest sense, is not being delivered either to students or to taxpayers, who also make a sizeable contribution. We need to address this so everyone can be sure they’re getting the best standard.
I am determined that every young person has the best opportunity to learn and succeed, regardless of their background or circumstance and this means improving not only the education on offer but access to it.
I thank the panel for their work, which now gives the Government a lot to consider, and we will now carefully look at their recommendations before concluding the review.
Josh Gulrajani, member of the Review's User Reference Group:
Being involved in the creation of this report has offered an invaluable opportunity to shape the future for students like myself as they progress to and through Further or Higher Education.
I am pleased to see the focus the panel has placed on the full learning experience of students; these recommendations are an important step change to ensure students are recognised for the work they undertake and are supported to achieve awards at all levels.
Throughout my involvement in this review it has been really clear to me how the panel has prioritised listening carefully to the ideas and worries of students and the sector, and the recommendations in this report demonstrate that.
SEND Funding and EHCPs
Today, widespread protest marches are expected to take place to lobby for more funding for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
In addition to this, the department has released new data on education health care plans (EHCPs) – these care plans are built for young people and children with special needs to be met in their education. The data shows that there is an 11% increase in children and young people on EHCPs since 2018.
The total funding we have allocated for high needs funding this year has risen to £6.3 billion – up from the figure of £5 billion in 2013. Funding worth £31.6 million has been committed to train more Educational Psychologists, who are critical in identifying special educational needs and providing a statutorily specified contribution to EHC needs assessment.
We have also issued a call for evidence to make sure the funding system is getting money to the right places.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
These statistics are concerning. Education, Health and Care Plans were introduced to provide personalised and tailored support for those children with more complex needs, but the 10% increase in plans last year is a clear challenge for the SEN and disability system. We will use this data to follow up with local authorities who are not performing well to support and challenge them to improve.
My ambition for children with additional needs is that they have the same opportunities to succeed in life as any other child and I am pleased to see that children with new plans are securing more placements in mainstream schools, reinforcing our belief that every school should be a school for a child with SEND, and that all schools should be inclusive.
Whilst we have increased the total amount allocated to high needs funding to £6.3 billion this year, we recognise the pressures in the system and we are working with the sector ahead of the spending review to find a long term, sustainable solution for high needs funding.