Schools & Early Years

  • Teach First called for more men to consider a career in teaching after the latest Government statistics revealed that only 26 per cent of teachers in England are men. Brett Wigdortz, Chief Executive of Teach First, said: ‘Young people need role models from all backgrounds to unlock their potential and aspiration, and to help them understand the world’.
  • The Welsh Government published new figures showing that the gap between the GCSE results of children from poorer backgrounds and their peers fell for the second year running. 35.5 per cent of GCSE students entitled to free school meals achieved five good GCSEs including English or Welsh and Maths. However two thirds of other pupils achieved the same benchmark.
  • Girlguiding UK published research showing that 15 per cent of girls aged seven to ten feel embarrassed about their appearance. Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, said schools had a ‘huge role to play in building resilience to the negative pressures and attitudes girls may face, and lessons that do this need to be a priority in all school timetables’.
  • Digital Awareness UK warned that children are going to school tired and unable to concentrate due to using social media after they go to bed. Their survey found that 10 per cent of young people check their phones for notifications at least 10 times a night. The online safety organisation recommended preventing children from using smartphones 90 minutes before bed.
  • Research into school places claimed there will have to be 2,000 more schools built by 2020 to meet the needs of almost 730,000 school age children. Mark Robinson, Chief Executive of public sector building consultancy Scape, which undertook the study, said: ‘A radical new wave of school-building must be a top priority for the Government’.
  • Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn appointed his new shadow education team, including Emma Lewell-Buck as Shadow Minister for Children and Families, and Tulip Siddiq as Shadow Minister for Early Years.

Further education & skills

  • DfE released figures demonstrating an increase in the number of people undertaking apprenticeships. The data showed that 905,000 people are currently studying for an apprenticeship, with 130,000 under 19 year-olds beginning an apprenticeship during the 2015 to 2016 academic year. Robert Halfon, Skills and Apprenticeships Minister, commented: ‘Apprenticeships work, that’s why they lie at the heart of our commitment to giving everyone the chance they deserve to get the skills and jobs they need for their future.
  • The Institute for Apprenticeships posted an advertisement for its first permanent chair, which will pay £140,000 a year, for two days work per week. The IfA will have an estimated annual budget of £8m until 2020 and become fully operational in April 2017.
  • FE Week reported that more than 10 per cent of university technical colleges are expected to close, only six years after they were first introduced. One such college is Royal Greenwich UTC in London, which is costing Greenwich Council £13m to convert into a secondary school. A council spokesperson said: ‘The Greenwich UTC sadly did not attract the expected numbers; as seen with colleges nationally, some students were hesitant at switching to a technical course at the age of 14.’
  • The Public Accounts Committee will hold an oral evidence session on delivering value through the Apprenticeships Programme on Wednesday 12th October.

Higher education

  • The Universities UK Social Mobility Advisory Group published its final report, which concluded that despite ambitious work to widen participation, disadvantage remains in society. The report called for greater focus on advice and guidance for students, as well as better collaboration between universities, schools, employers and government.  A report on the progress made against the recommendations will be published by Universities UK at the end of 2017. The Chair of the Group and Chief Executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge, stated: ‘The evidence provides a stark reminder of the work that still needs to be done to improve social mobility.’
  • Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, praised the awarding of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics to British scientists – David Thouless, Duncan Haldane, and Michael Kosterlitz – but said: ‘Such triumphs depend on Britain’s university system remaining well-funded and world class – something that the loss of EU research money in the wake of Brexit puts in doubt.’
  • Times Higher Education published data which found that the success rate for grant proposals at UK research councils has fallen again. The success rate in 2012-13 was 30 per cent but fell to 26 per cent in 2015-16.
  • The Times reported that Niall FitzGerald, the Chair of University College Dublin’s Smurfit School’s advisory board, has called on Irish universities to capitalise on Brexit, noting that EU funding is at risk of being withdrawn from UK-based researchers. FitzGerald said: ‘Ireland does provide an attractive proposition for the displaced and talented academics and research funding which the EU bestows on their work.’
  • Further amendments were tabled to the Higher Education and Research Bill to ensure the Office for Students consults students and to require an assessment of the evidence of the reliability of TEF metrics to be made and for this to be published.

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