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Education in the media: 29 August 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Careers, Equalities, GCSE results, Ofqual


Today’s news review looks at our career returners announcement and the recent coverage around private schools and exam cheating.

Career returners announcement

Yesterday, Monday 28 August, the Government Equalities Office announced a new programme for public sector career returner programmes, aimed at teachers, civil servants, health professionals and social workers.

The formal schemes are offered by employers to provide training and support to people who have taken time out of the workplace. This is part of our work and part of the £5million fund announced in March’s budget to support parents and carers returning to work, to build skills, and to continue to work towards closing the gender pay gap.

The announcement was reported widely and positively across national media yesterday, including the Daily Telegraph (p4), Express (p43), Mail (p22), Sun (p2), i (p4) and BBC Online.

The initiative has been widely welcomed with the Local Government Association pledging its support and Prof. Lisa Bayliss-Pratt of Health Education England saying that helping clinicians return to work will be a major boost to the NHS.

In addition, yesterday the Government Equalities Office launched a public call for evidence about returner programmes. You can read more about this here.

Minister of State for Apprenticeships, Skills and Women, Anne Milton, said:

We want to help people who are looking to get into work, which is why we are going to do more to help people get back into work after a career break.

Millions of us need to take time out from our careers, but it can be really hard to return. This is bad for the people affected, and the businesses who miss out on their talents. Women, in particular, find the routes back into employment closed off after taking time out to start a family.

“These returner programmes will make it routine for women to go back to the workplace and get on with their careers. It ultimately should also help us to tackle the gender pay gap. I think it’s important that the public sector leads by example and introduces programmes to support people returning to the workplace.

Exam cheating

Over the weekend there has been widespread coverage about private schools – Eton, Winchester and Charterhouse – being caught up in claims of exam cheating after teachers shared confidential test content with pupils in advance.

The news was first covered on Saturday’s front page of the Guardian (p1), and in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph (p1). There has been further pickup today in The Daily Telegraph (p1), The Times (p2), FT (p2), i (p13) and Daily Mail (p18).

Winchester has since suspended its head of art history and nullified the results for two exams, while Charterhouse has also confirmed it has been investigated by the exam board.

In response to the news, Ofqual released a statement:

In any given year there are unfortunately a very small number of incidents such as these. The relevant exam board is responsible for informing Ofqual when situations like this occur and for taking any actions it considers appropriate in response. CIE has kept us informed of developments in relation to this incident and we have been closely monitoring its actions.

We analyse all instances of malpractice every year and we will summarise the issues that arose in 2017 in our annual report on the summer, published in December. Each year we consider whether any changes to the regulatory framework are necessary.

This is a matter for Ofqual and the exam board. We have been clear that any suggestion of malpractice is a cause for concern and must be looked into.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Parents and students must be able to have faith in the exam system. Any suggestion of malpractice is concerning and should be looked into. "Cambridge International Examinations board are dealing with the incidents ‎and have made the exam regulator Ofqual aware.

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