https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/29/religion-in-schools-student-data-and-english-a-levels/

Religion in schools, student data and English A Levels

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at religion in schools, student data and A Level subject choices.

Religion in schools

Today, Monday 29 July, two parents announced that they are launching a judicial review against a Church of England multi academy trust regarding collective worship in the school. This has been covered by the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Times and the Today Programme.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Collective worship encourages pupils to reflect on the concept of belief and helps shape fundamental British values of tolerance, respect and understanding for others. Parents can choose to withdraw their children from all or any part of collective worship. Non-faith schools can also apply for an exemption from the duty to provide predominantly Christian collective worship if this does not suit the needs of their local community.

Student data

On Saturday, 27 July, Buzzfeed published an article based on Freedom of Information data they obtained, saying that the Department for Education holds data on the personal religious belief of 3.2 million students and the sexual orientation of 3.7 million students.

The article also says that Buzzfeed has identified 11 universities that failed to make clear that named records of students ‘ sexual orientation and religion along with other personal data would be shared with the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We take data protection extremely seriously and we keep all personal information safe - in line with legal requirements.

The information collected by HESA and shared with the department is done so we can meet our public sector obligations to carry out equalities impact assessment. These particular data items, which students don’t have to provide, are not shared by us outside of the department.

English A Levels

Yesterday, Sunday 28 July, the Sunday Telegraph published an article based on the uptake of English A Levels dropping by 35% in the last three years. The Times also reported on this today.

Over 60% of roles on the Home Office shortage list are STEM roles – primarily seeking either engineering or digital expertise. The 2017 Employer Skills Survey found that there is significant demand for skilled and qualified professionals in IT and engineering, as well as a need for complex numerical and statistical skills.

The more rigorous GCSE in English literature examined from 2017 rewards pupils for getting to grips with a wider range of literature at a deeper level. We are confident that this is providing better preparation for pupils to take the A level.

A Department for Education spokesperson:

Overall English is the fourth most popular A Level subject after mathematics, biology and psychology, all of which have seen increased entries in recent years.

Studying English language and literature at A Level builds students’ understanding and appreciation of our language and the depth and power of our rich and varied literary heritage as well as helping them develop valuable critical and analytical skills.

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