Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 05/09/2019

Starting salaries for teachers to increase by £6,000 – This could bring new teachers’ salaries up to £30,000.

Starting salaries for teachers could rise to £30,000 – an increase of £6,000 – under government plans to reform teacher pay. The proposal comes after years of unions calling for an end to the “erosion” of pay, with some saying teachers have faced years of pay cuts at a time of “unprecedented levels of change” in the education system, including new curriculum and exam systems. The minimum salary for teachers in England and Wales, excluding London, is currently £23,720, while the minimum for inner London is £29,664, according to the government website Get Into Teaching.

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The government has today confirmed it will scrap the inspection exemption for ‘outstanding’ schools – with new plans for Ofsted to rate schools on their financial health.

In a series of announcements this morning centred on school improvement, the government also pledged to set up a specialist academy trust to takeover the schools no-one wants and expand Lord Agnew’s cost-cutters’ initiative. Here’s what we know:

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Scrap academies programme, says ex-DfE adviser – Report calls for an end to both academies and maintained status in a new simplified state-school system.

The academies programme should be scrapped and replaced with a system in which all state schools have the same status, according to a hard-hitting new report by a former Department for Education adviser. The report warns that the exorbitant pay of multi-academy trust chief executives has damaged the reputation of academies and a lack of transparency over school decision-making is leaving parents and communities in the dark. However, the EDSK report, published today, also suggests getting rid of maintained school status and moving to a system where every school has the same “state school” status and is funded directly by the government.

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The Report: Are contextual offers the path to greater social mobility in higher education? The Office for Students wants more ambitious contextual offers to be used by university admission teams, but a recent HEPI survey revealed student opinion is divided on lower grade offers. How did we get here and what is the sector doing?

Universities are sometimes referred to as ‘providers’ – and it is a term that will no doubt crop up a few times before the end of this piece – but that word, and the transactional culture it infers upon universities, omits the huge importance higher education institutions (HEIs) have on social mobility; nowhere does societal inequality seem so noticeable – or so newsworthy.

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Schools will get no additional funding until next year, prime minister Boris Johnson has confirmed, after revealing further details of his spending pledge which will see £7.1 billion extra pumped annually into schools by 2022.

The government has announced today it will inject £2.6 billion extra into the schools budget in 2020-21, which includes £700 million earmarked for pupils with special needs. Then a further £2.2 billion will be injected in 2021-22, and another £2.3 billion in 2022-23. This means schools will get (cumulatively) an extra £14 billion across the three years, with the yearly schools budget boosted by £7.1 billion by 2022-23.

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The academies programme should be replaced with a single “unified” school system based on the best current practice from across the sector, a think tank has said.

A new report from EDSK, directed by Tom Richmond, a former adviser to both Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan, criticised the “fragmented and incoherent” education system and called on the government to “set the explicit goal of bringing all state schools together again”. However, the plans have been met with scepticism from unions, amid concerns the proposals amount to total academisation on the sly and implementing them would cause unnecessary upheaval.

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Call made by an ex-aide to Michael Gove to close Labour’s academies so schools get ‘level playing field’ – Academies were created by Labour and the programme was greatly expanded by Michael Gove when he was education secretary.

The academies programme should be closed down to put all schools on a “level playing field”, according to a think-tank led by a former education adviser to Michael Gove. Academies are schools in England which are outside local government control. They therefore have wide-reaching powers to decide their curriculum, set their own teacher pay policies and alter the length of the school day.

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Fighting the student mental health crisis using technology – Cathy Parnham examines the role social media and digital channels play in tackling student mental health.

The stark truth – 50.3% of students have thoughts of self-harm – twice as many as reported in 2017 – 44.7% use alcohol or drugs to cope with problems – One in three needs professional help – Nine out of 10 students struggle with feelings of anxiety – up 18.7% on 2017 – 33% feel lonely often or all the time – 21.5% have a current mental health diagnosis
– 75.6% conceal their symptoms from friends for fear of stigma.

The data is alarming: nine out of 10 students struggle with anxiety and a third feel lonely often and over half have thoughts of self-harm. One of the challenges universities face is identifying students who may be struggling and getting appropriate help to them, in time and in a way in which they can engage with complete confidence and trust.

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Expert panel: What progress still needs to be made for disabled students? – Is UK HE becoming more accessible to students with disabilities? And if so, is it happening fast enough? Steve Wright asks the experts in the third in our series.

Gail Hopkins: We need to do more to support students. We need more resources, more funding, more people on the ground who have training and experience in dealing with students with disabilities. I think that, really, universities need a centre for disability support where students can drop in and have access to a range of professionals, and to an environment where they can feel supported and talk to other students in similar situations.

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It will take more than an increase in STEM study to close the UK skills gap – New research from the IET finds that 73% of engineering and tech employers see job applicants who have academic knowledge but lack workplace skills.

Government statistics published earlier this month show a marked increase in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, up 26.2% since 2010. At first glance, the rise is a significant boost in the bid to close the UK’s STEM skills gap. However, new research from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) suggests that such hopes should be tempered with caution. After collating feedback from 700 UK engineering and technology companies, IET found that 73% experienced problems with job candidates whose workplace skills failed to match their academic knowledge.

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How to prepare students for the global economy – To succeed in higher education and beyond, today’s students need to develop an international outlook, says Harry Hortyn, co-founder of Oxford Summer Courses.

The term ‘global village’ was first coined back in the 1960s, when the precursors of today’s technology made international trade, travel and communications a possibility for more than just the fortunate few. With the dawning of the digital age, the next generation of industrialists, innovators and scientists will be the first true citizens of that global village, and their colleagues are just as likely to be sitting thousands of miles away as working at the next desk.

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Government pledges £14 billion for schools in three-year package – Government says deal meets Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign pledge to increase school budgets in England by £4.6bn above inflation.

In what the Government is billing as a £14bn package over three years, schools teaching pupils between the ages of five and 16 in England will have £7.1bn more by 2022-23 compared to 2019-20. On a 2019-20 baseline, schools will receive their first £2.6bn increase in 2020-21, followed by £4.8bn in 2021-22, before the £7.1bn mark is reached in the third year.

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Celebrate nutrition with a Great Roast Dinner – The campaign will see schools encouraged to invite parents and other family members through the gates to share the meal with their children.

Getting closer to Christmas, roast dinners are coming to the forefront of our minds on those cold Sunday nights. So, it seems only appropriate that this celebration filters down to children. Led by the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme and Knorr Gravy, The Great Roast Dinner campaign has been launched aiming to encourage more pupils to eat a healthy school dinner. The celebration will put great school food in the spotlight through a series of roast dinner-themed events taking place throughout the academic year.

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Significant increase in alternative qualifications in independent schools – The ISC’s analysis of Year 13 exam results show more schools are now offering alternative qualifications to A-levels.

There has been a rise in the number of Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools offering alternative qualifications to A-levels. The ISC’s research of this year’s exam results show more independent schools than ever are offering BTECs, Pre-Us and Extended Project Qualifications (EPQ). 90% of schools had results for exams other than just A-levels this year. There has also been an increase in the number of young people successfully securing these qualifications.

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The number of complaints received by Ofqual about England’s largest exam boards has nearly doubled over the past two years, latest figures show.

Statistics released by the exams regulator today reveal that there were 143 complaints made against AQA, Pearson and OCR in 2018-19. This is a rise of 54 per cent from the 93 complaints received last year and a 91 per cent rise in the number of complaints received in 2016-17 – 75. The three exam boards issue millions of certificates every year. In 2018-19, AQA issued the largest number of certificates, handing out 3,264,990. Meanwhile, Pearson awarded 2,438,670 and OCR gave out 795,490.

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‘Young people might be bypassing the ballot box, but they are still intent on changing the world’ – Dominic Traynor, CEO of LitFilmFest, dismisses claims that ‘young people don’t care about politics’.

It is a time-honoured tradition for older generations to accuse younger generations of political apathy. Today, however, proponents of the ‘young people don’t care about politics’ rhetoric have statistics on their side – statistics which revealed an alarmingly low turnout of young people in general elections. But does refusing to vote indeed signal political apathy amongst the youth?
Or is there another, emerging trend of pupil politics which favours activism and direct confrontation to casting a ballot? And is this new way of being a young, political citizen something that schools can harness for good?

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Pupils studying BTEC qualifications score on average the equivalent of a grade higher than they do in GCSE English and maths, a new analysis has found.

The study, by Education Datalab, analysed the average progress 8 points scores of pupils across both GCSE and technical qualifications compared to their English and maths scores. It found that in BTEC health and social care, pupils scored on average the equivalent of a grade and a half higher than they did for GCSE English and maths – the largest difference for all technical qualifications with at least 5,000 state school entrants.

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Travelling, learning or working: how to master the three types of gap year – Meets three students who approached their gap year with purpose and reaped the rewards.

When you’re knee-deep in A-levels, a gap year can be a tempting prospect. But now the post-exam parties are over and bedrooms have been cleared of textbooks, the task of filling that 12-month stretch in a way that’s fun, rewarding and looks good on a CV can be daunting. Dr Paul Redmond, author of The Graduate Jobs Formula, says the key to success is having clear aims and objectives – and being able to speak afterwards about what you gained. Here, three students reveal whether their gap years ticked the boxes.

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Student view: We shouldn’t see computing as ‘too hard’ – Student Heather Watt says children should study computing earlier to get rid of the stigma that it is too difficult.

It has always surprised me that, despite computational thinking being so valuable, very few young people take an interest in the subject of computing. Studying computing provides students with tangible skills, which can be used in several industries – it is an important life skill. Yet, computing requires the ability to demonstrate the skill of computational thinking. This may be a factor as to why it is often deemed a “hard” subject and is in decline in schools across Scotland.

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Academies minister Lord Agnew has vowed to crackdown on schools using “monopoly suppliers” for their school uniform – claiming it was a “pernicious way of excluding children from less well-off backgrounds”.

During a joint education and work and pensions select committee session on Wednesday, Emma Hardy raised the issue of the cost of school uniforms, particularly the requirement of some schools that parents buy branded items from monopoly suppliers, thereby increasing costs. Labour MP Hardy called on the government to encourage schools to stop using branding on all their items, or to make it optional. She asked for Agnew’s support in calling for schools to limit the cost of uniform.

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.