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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Education in the media: 5 January 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprenticeships, Curriculum, Higher Education


Today’s news review looks at the Children’s Commissioner’s report into children’s engagement with the internet, a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute into alternative providers, British Sign Language becoming a formal apprenticeship qualification and Mandarin Chinese coming out on top in a parental poll.

Children’s Commissioner Report

The Children’s Commissioner has today, Thursday 5 January, published the results of a year-long study  looking at children’s engagement with the internet. The ‘Growing Up Digital’ report suggests that children are increasingly left to fend for themselves online against dangers such as bullying and grooming, and calls for digital citizenship to be taught within schools. This story was covered by the Today programme and ITV Good Morning Britain. It has also been covered online by The Guardian, BBC Online, Telegraph and HuffPost.

Within schools, e-safety is covered at all key stages in the new computing curriculum and we have invested £4.5 million in supporting teachers to deliver this curriculum. Our statutory guidance for all schools makes it clear that schools should ensure children are taught about safeguarding, including online, as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Schools have a statutory obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of their children.

A Government spokesperson said:

The internet has given children and young people fantastic opportunities, but protecting them from risks they might face online or on their phones is vital. The UK is a world leader in internet safety, but there is more to do, and we will carefully consider this report as part of our ongoing work to make the internet a safer place for children.

Higher Education Policy Institute

The Higher Education Policy Institute has today released a report on alternative providers in the University sector. The report claims that plans in the Higher Education and Research Bill to expand private providers in the UK’s University sector will mean two-thirds of alternative providers could be unregulated. This story has been covered by the BBC Online, Independent, THE, Guardian and the FT.

We have been clear that the Higher Education and Research Bill will deliver important reforms and ensure the UK’s world class higher education sector remains one of the UK’s greatest national assets and delivers for everyone.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

More alternative providers than ever will be regulated thanks to the reforms being introduced through our Higher Education and Research Bill . As well as regulating all those receiving public funding, the Office for Students will have the ability to regulate alternative providers outside of public funding.


The Bill , which is currently going through Parliament, will build a higher education system that offers students high quality teaching, more choice and greater competition.

British Sign Language

Today, Thursday 5 January, the Telegraph, TES and FE Week covered our announcement that British Sign Language will be accepted as an alternative qualification to Functional Skills in English for apprentices, giving people with disabilities an equal chance to get on.

Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon said:

I am committed to breaking down barriers to ensure people of all ages and all backgrounds get on the ladder of opportunity through an apprenticeship.


For those whose first language is British Sign Language, this simple change will allow them to achieve their full potential. I look forward to implementing more changes like this to make sure apprenticeships can work for as many people as possible, whatever their background.

Mandarin Chinese

This morning Sky News covered a poll released by the British Council and the UCL Institute of Education, that revealed parents think Mandarin Chinese is the most beneficial non-European language for their children to learn. Sky interviewed Mark Herbert, head of schools programme at the British Council.

The British Council and UCL run the Mandarin Excellence Programme, a DfE-funded programme which aims to see 5,000 more young people in England studying Mandarin Chinese by 2020.

We recognise that Mandarin Chinese will become increasingly important in our globally competitive economy, and the Mandarin Excellence Programme is helping to give young people the chance to acquire fluency in spoken and written Mandarin, benefiting not only themselves but the wider UK economy.

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