https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/30/disadvantage-gap-unconditional-offers-and-childrens-services/

Disadvantage gap, unconditional offers and children’s services

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Today our blog looks at new reports by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) and Ofsted.

EPI Report

Today, Tuesday 30 July the Education Policy Institute (EPI) published a report on the disadvantage gap in education. The report says that the disadvantage attainment gap has stopped closing, and that poorer pupils are around 18 months behind their wealthier peers in progress at GCSE level. The report has been covered by BBC Online, the Times, the Independent, the Guardian, the Mail and the Sun.

There is currently more money going into schools than ever before and the Government has acted to tackle disadvantage by providing schools with an extra £2.4 billion this year through the Pupil Premium.

New guidance available through the Education Endowment Foundation will also help schools to make good choices to improve their disadvantaged pupils’ outcomes.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

The gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed considerably in both primary and secondary schools since 2011. During that time this government has delivered a range of reforms to ensure every child, regardless of their background, gets a high-quality education. We are investing £2.4 billion this year alone through the Pupil Premium to help the most disadvantaged children.

Teachers and school leaders are helping to drive up standards right across the country, with 85% of children now in good or outstanding schools compared to just 66% in 2010, but there is more to do to continue to attract and retain talented individuals in our classrooms.

UCAS Report

Today, Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) has published a report looking at university offers, including unconditional offers made to prospective students. The report says that two in five 18-year-olds who applied to university received an unconditional offer this year. This has been covered by the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph and the Mail.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

What sets the UK’s world-leading universities apart is our relentless focus on quality and this must be protected.

There is a place for unconditional offers, however this data highlights the continued rise in their use and we know some students who accept unconditional offers can be more likely to miss their predicted A Level grades. We also have particular concerns about the use of conditional unconditional offers, which can potentially pressure students into accepting a place which may not the best option for them.

Many institutions are already taking steps to address the rise in unconditional offers and we hope these efforts continue, with the figures showing a different picture next year. We look forward to seeing the results of the OfS’ and UUK’s reviews of admissions practices to ensure they work in the best interests of students.

Children’s Services

Yesterday, Monday 29 July, Ofsted published an inspection report on Northamptonshire County Council’s children’s services. This was based on an inspection undertaken last month and found that the services were overall inadequate. This has been covered by the Guardian.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We will not hesitate to take action where children’s services are failing vulnerable children and young people. As serious weaknesses were identified in Northamptonshire’s children’s social care we took swift action to put in place a commissioner and agreed support from Lincolnshire County Council, including providing a team of experienced and dedicated social workers to ease pressure and make improvements. We have since announced that we plan to set up a children’s services trust.

The latest Ofsted inadequate rating underlines the importance of swift action to raise standards and ensure the welfare and protection of children in the region.

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