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Education in the media: Tuesday 28 November 2017

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Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the Social Mobility Commission’s report out today, and texts used in Islamic schools.

Social Mobility

Today, Tuesday 28 November, the Social Mobility Commission launched its annual ‘State of the Nation’ report. The report focuses on social mobility ‘cold spots’ throughout the country, noting that several areas – including Oldham and Bradford – have improved.

The report was covered by the BBC this morning, including on The Today Programme and BBC Breakfast, as well as BBC Online.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has commented on the report’s findings, but has inaccurately suggested that the department has missed its teacher recruitment targets five years in a row, and that more teachers have left than joined the profession in the last two years.

Both of these claims are untrue:

  • In 2012/13 recruitment was 100 per cent
  • Official statistics on entrants and leavers show that the number of qualified teachers entering and re-joining the profession is higher than those who have left. This has been true for the last five years running.

Tackling social mobility is one of the department’s priorities and the Opportunity Area programme focuses on those cold spots highlighted by the Social Mobility Commission. We recently published the first six of 12 action plans for Opportunity Areas, which will drive social mobility in these communities, through funding a range of targeted activity and projects. This includes £22 million which will be shared among all 12 Opportunity Areas through a new Essential Life Skills programme to help disadvantaged young people develop.

It is important to note too that the Opportunity Area programmes includes a wide variety of areas – including rural and coastal communities – which means that we can look at ways to help the very areas the report notes are falling behind.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

The findings of the Social Mobility Commission underline the importance of focusing our efforts in more disadvantaged areas where we can make the biggest difference. By working to boost attainment and opportunity – both inside and outside the classroom – we want to help all young people in those areas fulfil their potential.

Our Opportunity Areas programme is developing evidence-based approaches to tackle entrenched underperformance alongside wider investment to improve early numeracy, literacy, and teacher recruitment in areas that need it most, as well as working with businesses locally to raise sights and broaden horizons for young people.

We are making progress - there are now 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. Disadvantaged young people are entering universities at record rates, and the attainment gap between them and their peers has narrowed. We are also boosting salaries through the introduction of the National Living Wage, creating more full-time, permanent jobs and investing £9 billion in affordable housing. Taken together, this won’t just change individual lives, it will help transform our country into a fairer society.

Islamic Schools

Today, Tuesday 28 November, The Times ran a piece on Ofsted investigators finding a number of Islamic schools using textbooks which promote misogyny.

We are very clear that schools are expected to actively promote the Fundamental British Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs in their teaching. Ofsted has strengthened its inspection frameworks so that inspectors assess how well all schools promote Fundamental British Values.

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