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Education in the media: 9 October 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprenticeships, Child protection, Universities

Today’s education in the media blog looks at the news around abuse, cheating at university and the benefits of degree apprenticeships.

Peer on peer abuse

Tonight, Monday 9 October, BBC Panorama is airing a documentary about children’s relationships. The programme will focus on interviews with victims and parents of victims who have been affected by peer on peer abuse at school.

Ahead of the programme, there has been widespread media coverage after a parent has spoken out about a school’s handling of abuse her daughter has experienced.

This has been widely covered in today’s papers, online and on the BBC’s news channel. The story also ran on the Today Programme and BBC’s The Victoria Derbyshire Show ran an interview with the mother of the victim as well as a wider group discussion on the topic.

Obviously we can’t comment on the specific case in question but our ‘Keeping Children Safe In Education’ guidance is clear that schools should ensure that their child protection policy includes procedures to minimise the risk of peer on peer abuse.

The guidance isn’t designed to tell schools exactly what they should do in any given situation because a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn’t be appropriate. It provides them with the information to make decisions around the safeguarding of children for themselves.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Schools have a duty to ensure they protect any of their pupils who are victims of sexual assault. In doing so, they should work closely with the police and other relevant authorities involved including the local authority and health services, to ensure pupils are properly supported and not exposed to any risks.

Statutory safeguarding guidance is clear that schools should have an effective child protection policy in place that addresses sexual abuse among pupils.  This should include procedures to minimise it along with advice on how allegations will be dealt with and how victims will be supported.

Cheating at university

On Sunday 8 October, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) published a report that found university lecturers are contributing to online ‘essay mills’ – sites which offer fraudulent essays for a fee.

Today, Monday 9 October, the QAA has published new guidance for providers on how to effectively tackle contract and essay mills cheating. The guidance focusses on ways that universities can more effectively prevent and detect contract cheating.

The news of the report’s findings was covered over the weekend by The Telegraph and today the guidance has received pick up in The Guardian, The Times and was reported by The Today Programme.

The Department welcomes the recommendations made by the QAA and we expect the Office for Students (OfS) to address these concerns. Any institution that turn a blind eye to cheating could be stripped of powers under the Office for Students.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson:

This form of cheating is unacceptable and pernicious. It not only undermines standards in our world-class universities but devalues the hard-earned qualifications of those who don't cheat and can even, when it leads to graduates practising with inadequate professional skills, endanger the lives of others. That is why I asked the Quality Assurance Agency to look at this issue and introduce new guidance for students and providers.

I welcome the publication of this guidance and expect the new regulator, the Office for Students, to ensure that the sector implements strong policies and sanctions to address this important issue in the most robust way possible.

Degree Apprenticeships

Today, Monday 9 October, The Times reported on a new revolution of degree apprenticeships from the Russell Group Universities and PWC.

Under most degree apprenticeships, students spend four days a week in the workplace and study for a day a week. This new move will see school-leavers become full-time students and have the whole “student experience” alongside fee-paying undergraduates.

PWC is paying for 40 apprentices to enrol on the BSc in computer science, live on campus and graduate with a traditional degree. The apprentices will work at PWC’s offices during the summer terms and during a work placement year in the third year.

The news has been welcomed by experts who say companies will end up with work-ready graduates, universities will have income generated by guaranteed tuition fees and the move will give apprentices a degree minus the tuition fees – as well as a salary and work experience.

PWC’s degrees in computer science start next year at Leeds and Birmingham Universities, with more companies expected to follow.

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