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Education in the media: 3 June 2016

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Attainment gap, Careers, Term time holidays

Two girls in uniform

Today’s news review looks at a Sutton Trust report about  young people’s aspirations and proposals by Barnsley Council to change school term times.

The Sutton Trust report

The education charity The Sutton Trust has published a report which finds that Year 9 girls are more likely than boys of the same age to believe that going to university is important. The Believing in Better report, based on Oxford University research, shows that 65% of 13-14 year old girls thought it was very important to go to university, compared to 58% of boys in this age group.

The story runs in the Telegraph, the Guardian and The i, as well as on this morning’s Today Programme.

A Government spokesperson said:

We want all pupils, regardless of their gender or background, to reach their full potential. Thanks to our reforms the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates has narrowed since 2011, and there are 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools since 2010.


Latest figures show we have the highest ever number of young people going to university. But we know there is more to do to widen participation in higher education. That’s why the Prime Minister has committed to doubling the proportion of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds entering higher education by the end of this Parliament, from 2009 levels.


We have introduced a more rigorous curriculum so every child, regardless of their background, learns the basics they need such as English and maths so they can go on to fulfil their potential whether that’s into the world of work or continuing their studies, and encouraging more young people, particularly girls, to study STEM subjects.

Changing term dates

The Times and the Guardian report that Barnsley Council is consulting on shortening the summer break for the schools it is responsible for, and proposing to add an extra week of holiday in the autumn.

The head of Barnsley Council was interviewed on the Today programme on the issue, he said the decision was based on evidence, but he was prepared to listen to concerns.

Our position on freedom to change term dates is:

Academies, free schools and some faith schools have freedom over their term dates, and all local authorities have the power to vary term dates for the rest, including for individual schools. We encourage local authorities to listen sympathetically to arguments for changes to term dates.


We have put heads and teachers firmly back in charge of their classrooms – thanks to our reforms there are now almost 200,000 fewer pupils regularly missing school compared to 2010.

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