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Education in the media: 20 September 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprenticeships, School places, School sizes

Today’s news review looks at school capacity and the apprenticeship levy.

School capacity

On Tuesday 19 September, the Liberal Democrats released a fundamentally misleading press notice claiming there is a school place crisis because many schools run at capacity.

The reality is that 94 per cent of pupils get a place at one of their preferred schools with 83 per cent getting a place at their top choice. This clearly indicates that the system is working and there is capacity in it. To suggest that there is a crisis is wrong.

This has been covered today by the Daily Mirror (p8), the Independent and The Daily Mail (p10). And in brief by The Times (p4) and The Sun (p2). The reports led on that the majority of secondary schools are full.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

These claims are fundamentally misleading – we fund local authorities to provide school places for every pupil based on their own forecasts. The result is that the vast majority of parents secure a place for their child at their first choice of secondary school – 83.5 per cent this year, with more than 94 per cent having received offers at one of their top three choices.

We have created 735,000 new school places since 2010 – with 136,000 more in the last year alone. We have allocated £5.8bn of funding between 2015 and 2020 to make sure local authorities can provide all the places they need in future.

Apprenticeship levy

Today, 20 September 2017, the Evolve Learning Group and West London College published a report about the apprenticeship levy. The findings claim there is confusion and a lack of understanding among businesses about the levy.

The report was discussed briefly on the Today Programme this morning.

It is important to consider that the levy will be paid by less than 2 per cent of UK employers. There is a very large part of the market not represented by the data in the report. These numbers reflect future commitments from a new service and do not reflect latest numbers of overall starts for this age group.

We are working closely with levy-paying employers to make sure they can use the new apprenticeship service to plan their programmes and make the most of their levy investment.

Nearly 10,000 employers are now registered on the service and more and more apprenticeship placements are being confirmed every day. We are also pleased to see that from 132 large levy payers in August, 83 per cent have received increasing demand.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Our apprenticeship reforms put control back into the hands of employers. We are aware that there will be a period of adjustment while employers plan ahead to make sure they can maximise the opportunities that apprenticeships can bring to their organisation.

However throughout the development of the apprenticeship levy, we have involved thousands of employers and training providers, helping them to understand how much levy they will pay and how they could use their funds to pay for training.

We want to make sure we reach 3 million high quality apprenticeships starts in England by 2020, and are on track to deliver this, with over 1 million starts since May 2015.

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