Schools & early years

  • The Commons Education Select Committee released a report that raised significant concerns about the performance, accountability and expansion of multi-academy trusts. They called on the Government to allow local authorities with a track record of strong educational performance to set up their own MATs. The Committee Chair, Neil Carmichael, said ‘MATs have emerged from the Government’s plan to increase the number of academies but policy and oversight have been playing catch-up’.
  • The Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report showing that although spending per pupil in schools is set to be at least 70 per cent higher in 2020 than it was in 1990, there has been no rise in spending per pupil in sixth forms and FE.
  • Research by the Social Mobility Commission found that the gap between poor pupils’ attainment at the end of primary school and the end of secondary school has widened, and that children on free school meals achieve almost half a GCSE grade less progress in ‘Attainment 8’ core subjects than better-off pupils. Since 2012, pupils from low-income families have been making less progress year on year than their more affluent peers.
  • Education Secretary Justine Greening announced a £415 million fund for facilities to support physical education, after-school activities and healthy eating. The money will go to primary and secondary schools and sixth-form colleges, and will come from the sugar levy.

Further education & skills

  • The Education Policy Institute (EPI) published a study, which found that employers in the North accounted for 36 per cent of all apprenticeships starts in 2016, despite accounting for 23 per cent of the working population.
  • Research by the DfE’s ‘Get In, Go Far’ campaign stated that small UK business owners are expected to hire 202,000 new apprentices over the next 12 months.
  • A study by the University of Westminster’s Centre for Employment Research found that, on average, apprentices are from significantly less deprived background than learners taking other FE qualifications. 46 per cent of 16 to 18 learners at level 2 taking non-apprenticeship qualifications are from the most deprived backgrounds, compared with 39 per cent of apprentices.
  • A study by the Baker Dearing Education Trust revealed that 45 per cent of 20 to 35 year olds working in STEM related jobs believe the subjects they studied at school are useless in the working world. Three fifths thought that technical skills would have been more useful than learning traditional academic subjects.

Higher education

  • The Government proposed amendments to the Higher Education and Research Bill, including to enable universities to offer more accelerated courses, including those lasting two years with content condensed into a shorter period. Universities Minister Jo Johnson said ‘These changes will not mean any compromise in quality, or an increase in overall degree costs for students. The tuition fees for a student taking an accelerated degree will never be more, in total, than those for the same degree over a longer time period.’
  • The Higher Education Policy Institute published a paper urging schools and universities to play a greater role in ensuring students are aware of the BTEC qualifications that are most likely to help them progress to higher education, and found that only 15 BTEC students were accepted at the four most selective higher education institutions in 2015. The report notes that greater numbers of high-attaining students are taking courses in sports science rather than STEM subjects, and calls for schools to ensure that students ‘receive the information and guidance they need to make more informed choices’.
  • A report by the University and College Union revealed that university vice-chancellors received an average salary package of £277,834 in the last academic year, more than six times the average pay of their staff. The report also revealed that 24 British universities had increased packages to their vice-chancellors by 10 per cent or more in 2015-16.

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