Today’s Education in the media blog focuses on the work grammar schools do on social mobility, teachers’ pay and the latest round of regional adoption agencies set up by the department.
Today, Thursday 22 March, the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education has published a report examining the backgrounds of more than 1,800 children living in areas of England and Northern Ireland that have grammar schools. The research compares children’s chances of attending grammar schools and the likelihood of them receiving coaching for an entrance test dependent on their income.
The report has been covered by The Daily Mail, The Times, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph, and BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme interviewed the author of the report – Professor John Jerrim.
Some of the coverage suggested that because some pupils receive tuition to get into grammar schools, they do not help social mobility – although this is not the case. Grammar schools carry out a range of activities to improve social mobility, with a majority prioritising pupils eligible for the pupil premium in their admissions systems – something that has only begun in the last few years. On top of this, some grammar schools also work with schools in their local area to help share best practice and improve the quality of education for all.
The two major testing agencies are also working hard to minimise the impact of exam coaching by making sure tests are randomised so that questions are not easily predictable.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We want every child to have access to a good school place and grammar schools are part of the choice available for parents. Research shows that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds attain better results in selective schools, and around 60% of these schools already prioritise children who are eligible for the pupil premium in their admissions – as recently as 2014, none of these schools were doing this.
But there is more to do, which is why we continue to work closely with the sector to encourage schools to widen access for disadvantaged pupils.
Yesterday the National Education Union (NEU) called on the government to consider a 5 per cent pay rise for teachers. The call for a pay rise was covered by the Guardian, the I, the Express and The Daily Mail.
The independent School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) is currently considering the recommendations it will put forward to the government this year on teachers’ pay. The department accepted all recommendations put forward by the STRB last year.
Teachers early in their careers earn comparatively well compared to other graduates. Classroom teachers in their twenties earn around £2,000 per year more than the average graduate. On top of this, the average salary for all teachers is £38,400; teachers with 15 years’ experience not only earn more than the OECD average, but also more than their counterparts in high-performing European education systems, such as France, Italy and Sweden.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We have a record 15,500 more teachers in our classrooms than in 2010 and this generation of teachers is better qualified than ever before. The average teacher's salary stands at £37,400 outside of London, rising to £41,900 in the capital. It is thanks to these teachers hard work and our reforms that 1.9 million more children are being taught in good or outstanding schools since 2010.
We have already given schools freedom over staff pay and have asked the independent School Teachers’ Review Body to take account of the Government’s flexible approach to public sector pay as they develop their recommendation.
We want to continue to attract and keep the best and brightest people in our schools. That’s why the Education Secretary recently announced a strategy to drive recruitment and boost retention of teachers, working with the unions and professional bodies, and pledged to strip away workload that doesn’t add value in the classroom.
Today, Thursday 22 March, we announced £3.4 million worth of funding to launch five new Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) projects. This is part of the government’s ambition to create a world-leading adoption system with faster matching, so children are placed in a loving, stable homes more quickly.
The additional funding will go to 17 councils to speed up the matching process between children awaiting adoption and adoptive families, as well as improving adopter recruitment and reducing costs.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
We want every child to be in the loving, stable home that’s right for them, and adoption can transform the lives of these vulnerable children - and their adoptive families - in a remarkable way.
By coming together and joining forces through the work of Regional Adoption Agencies, councils can use the network to match children with the right families much more quickly.
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