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Education in the media: Friday 22 December 2017


Today’s education blog looks at our highlights from 2017.

The department has delivered real progress this year. There are now 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010 and 202,800 children are benefitting from 30 hours’ free childcare. We also announced a new national funding formula backed by £1.3bn of investment in school budgets, launched one of the biggest national LGBT surveys and published our Social Mobility Action Plan as well as seeing the first results in our new reformed GCSEs and sustained progress in reading, writing and maths at primary level.

Gender Pay Gap

In April we announced that from next year all companies with 250 or more employees will have to report their gender pay gap, making the UK one of the first countries in the world to do this.

The gender pay gap stands at 18.1 per cent and the new requirement will drive the gap down further by shining a light on companies who should do more.

Read more here.

Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening said:

We have more women in work, more women-led businesses than ever before and the highest proportion of women on the boards of our biggest companies. This has helped us to narrow the gender pay gap to a record 18.1 per cent – but we want to eliminate it completely.

Helping women to reach their full potential isn’t only the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense and is good for British business. I am proud that the UK is championing gender equality and now those employers that are leading the way will clearly stand out with these requirements.

LGBT Survey

In July, the Government Equalities Office announced the launch of a nationwide LGBT survey to better understand the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people living in the UK. We received over 100,000 responses making it one of the largest LGBT surveys in the world. We will analyse these results closely and set out further steps to promote LGBT equality next year.

Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening said:

This government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality.

We will build on the significant progress we have made over the past 50 years, tackling some of the historic prejudices that still persist and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them.

New GCSE grading systems

In August the first pupils got their results in our new, more rigorous English Language, English Literature and Maths GCSEs. Not only were these qualifications benchmarked against the best in the world, they were the first to be graded according to the new numerical scale.

The GCSE qualifications for English language, English literature and maths have been awarded number grades, rather than letters. The new grading scale runs from 9 to 1 instead of A* to G, with 9 the highest grade.

You can read more about this here.

Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, said:

This year, the government has introduced new gold-standard GCSEs in English and maths. These qualifications have been benchmarked against the best in the world, raising academic standards for pupils. These reforms represent another step in our drive to raise standards, so that pupils have the knowledge and skills they need to compete in a global workplace.

The fruits of these reforms will be seen in the years to come, but already pupils and teachers are rising to the challenge with more than 50,000 grade 9s awarded across the new GCSEs. Around 70 per cent of entries for 16 year olds sitting the reformed exams in English and maths received a grade 4 or C and above - a standard pass.

The government is determined to drive higher standards in schools. Already our reforms are improving opportunities and life chances for pupils with 1.9million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. As we saw with our new A-levels, we are beginning to see the fruits of our reforms translating into higher standards, improving opportunities and the life chances of millions of young people and helping to fulfil the voracious demand for knowledgeable and skilled young people from Britain’s dynamic and growing economy.

National Funding Formula

In September, the Education Secretary announced the new National Funding formula (NFF). This is a new fairer funding system for schools in England, replacing the old formula that was out of date and resulted in unfair disparities between areas. The introduction of the new formula has been backed by £1.3bn of extra investment for schools and high needs across 2018-19

The NFF will provide funding gains for schools across England, allocating:

  • an increase in the basic amount allocated for every pupil;
  • a minimum per pupil funding level for both secondaries and primaries to target the lowest funded schools;
  • a minimum cash increase for every school of one per cent per pupil by 2019-20, with the most underfunded schools seeing rises of three per cent per pupil in 2018-19 and 2019-20; and
  • a £110,000 lump sum for every school to help with fixed costs, and an additional £26million to rural and isolated schools

The formula has been widely welcomed by schools, unions and other commentators.

Read the Secretary of State’s full statement to parliament here.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

Standards are rising across our school system and a fairer funding formula will ensure we can build on that success. It will replace the outdated funding system which saw our children have very different amounts invested in their education purely because of where they were growing up. That was unacceptable and we have now made school funding fairer between schools for the first time in decades.

It’s a long overdue reform and our £1.3 billion extra funding means every school can gain.

Opportunity Areas

In October, we announced twelve opportunity areas, which will receive targeted support in order to improve social mobility and opportunities for young people to fulfil their potential. The opportunity areas are: West Somerset, Norwich, Blackpool, North Yorkshire coast, Derby, Oldham, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

We have published delivery plans for the first six opportunity areas. The plans outline how we are going to build young people’s knowledge and skills and provide them opportunities for their future.

Read the delivery plans here.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Academic standards are rising in our primary and secondary schools thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers. Nine out of 10 schools are now rated good or outstanding and there are now 1.9 million more pupils in schools rated good or outstanding than in 2010.

That’s why we are targeting the areas that need the most support through the £72million Opportunity Areas programme, and by investing £280million over the next two years to target resources at the schools most in need to improve their performance and deliver more good school places.

Skills Summit

In November, Education Secretary Justine Greening addressed Britain’s top businesses at the first ever Skills Summit.

The event, supported by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), took place at the Department for Education with more than 100 industry and education experts from some of the world’s largest employers, including Amazon, Google, Rolls Royce, Dyson, Barclays, BT, Ford, Samsung and Deloitte in attendance.

The Education Secretary urged employers to work with government and embrace the opportunity of reforming technical education.

The Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

This government is investing in developing our homegrown talent so British business has the skills it needs and so that young people can get the opportunities they want.

We are determined to work in partnership with business to provide them opportunities to match the talent across the country. That is why this government is investing billions in technical education and why I am calling on employers to bring their innovation, creativity and commitment to technical education reform. Only employers can provide the work placements and apprenticeships that make these reforms a success.

Social Mobility Action Plan

In December, we published the Social Mobility Action Plan, backed by £800 million of funding.

The plan has one overarching ambition which will focus on places and communities across the country that feel they have been ‘left behind’, because they have not yet seen the improvement that other parts of the country have already benefited from. A further four ambitions will cover the key life stages of people’s education.

Ambition 1: Closing the word gap

Boosting access to high quality early language and literacy, both in the classroom and at home, ensuring more disadvantaged children leave school having mastered the basic of literacy that many take for granted.

Ambition 2: Closing the attainment gap

Raising standards for every pupil, supporting teachers early in their career as well as getting more great teachers in areas where there remain significant challenges.

Ambition 3: Real choice at post-16

Creating world-class technical education, backed by a half a billion pounds in investment, and increasing the options for all young people regardless of their background.

Ambition 4: Rewarding careers for all

Boosting skills and confidence to make the leap from education into work, raising their career aspirations. Building a new type of partnership with businesses to improve advice, information and experiences for young people.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

In modern Britain, where you are born, where you live, where you go to school and where you work directly affects where you get to in life.

Talent is spread evenly across this country; the problem is that opportunity isn’t. We need systemic change and we need everyone – government, employers, education professionals and civil society - to work together – so that social mobility runs through everything we all do.

Relationship and Sex Education

In December the Education Secretary announced an eight-week call for evidence to help shape the new relationship and sex education curriculum. The Department for Education is asking parents, teachers and young people for their opinions about what should be included in the new curriculum. This will help them stay safe and face the challenges of the modern world.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

It is unacceptable that Relationships and Sex Education guidance has not been updated for almost 20 years especially given the online risks, such as sexting and cyber bullying, our children and young people face. Young people must have an education that teaches them the importance of healthy and stable relationships.

This call for evidence is about giving teachers, parents and especially young people a chance to help shape that new approach and I’d urge them to take part.

Give Us Your Views by taking part in the Relationship and Sex Education survey

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