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Education in the media: 26 September

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Academies, Child protection, Equalities

primary stem

Today’s news review looks at reports from  over the weekend about the gender pay gap; the use of school census data; and claims from the Local Government Association (LGA) about the cost of converting schools to academies.

Gender pay gap

New research from Deloitte claims that the gender pay gap will not close in the UK until 2069, due to a shortage of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs.

The report was covered by a number of papers, including The Guardian, The Independent and the Daily Mail.

We are clear that although the gender pay gap is the lowest it has ever been, we want to make our country a place where everyone can succeed at work. That’s why from April 2017 we are – for the first time ever – introducing a legal requirement for large businesses to publish information on how much they pay their male and female staff.

A Government spokesperson said:

The gender pay gap is the lowest on record but we are committed to eliminating it completely in a generation. We’re taking action to require businesses to publish their gender pay gaps for the first time ever from April next year and we agree that getting more girls into STEM subjects can play a part.


We are continuing to encourage more girls to study these subjects and last year, 12,500 more girls sat A-Levels in STEM subjects compared to 2010.

School census data

Today, 26 September, it was reported in The Guardian that parents are being urged to boycott requests to disclose their child’s nationality and country of birth over concerns that the data could be used by the Home Office for immigration enforcement purposes.

We take the privacy of children in schools extremely seriously. This data is solely for internal Department for Education use in order to  provide the best possible education system, and will not be passed to the Home Office.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Collecting this data will help ensure our children receive the best possible education. It will be used to help us better understand how children with, for example, English as an additional language perform in terms of their broader education, and to assess and monitor the scale and impact immigration may be having on the schools sector.


Data on pupils’ country of birth, nationality and level of English proficiency is collected through the school census in line with the national population census. These data items will not be passed to the Home Office. They are solely for internal Department for Education use for analysis, statistics and research.

Cost of academy conversion

A report from the Local Government Association (LGA) has claimed that converting all remaining council-maintained schools into academies could cost the taxpayer £320 million.

The coverage does not fully reflect that we have £600 million available in this Parliament to support academy conversion. It should also be pointed out that the LGA has based its calculations on the costs for the “sponsored” method. We expect the vast majority of schools to follow the “converter” method, which typically incurs much lower costs.

Most of these would not act as standalone schools but would convert into or create a Multi-Academy Trust, benefitting from economies of scale, sharing of resources and wider collaborative benefits that MATs offer.

The report was covered in the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Schools Week and TES.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We have the funding to ensure more schools can take advantage of the opportunities presented by becoming an academy, with over £600m available in this Parliament to support schools to convert and build capacity in the system.


We recognise local authorities and church dioceses will also face costs and funding will also be provided to them. We are considering options for this and will make further information available in due course.

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