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Education in the media: Monday 26 March

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Today’s Education in the media blog looks at the Children’s Commissioner’s report ‘Growing up North’ and universities opening up specialist maths schools for 16- to 19-year-olds.

Growing up North

Today, Monday 26 March, the Children’s Commissioner released a report called ‘Growing up North’, the culmination of a year-long review of the experiences of children growing up in the north of England. The report notes that while many children in the north are thriving, there is still some entrenched underperformance with too many children lagging behind their southern peers. The report also sets out recommendations to improve social mobility in the most deprived northern areas.

The story has been reported by Sky News, BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. It was also reported in today’s papers by the Times , the Guardian the Daily Mirror , the Daily Mirror , the Daily Telegraph , the Independent the Daily Star , the Sun and the Daily Express.

The government is making a significant investment across infrastructure and education provision in the North to build on progress made across the country. This includes our £72 million Opportunity Area programme, which targets 12 disadvantaged areas of the country – including five in the North. These areas will benefit from a share of £22 million through the Essential Life Skills programme, to help young people in these areas develop life skills in resilience, wellbeing and employability.

A Government spokesperson said:

We want to create a country where everyone gets the best start in life, no matter  what their background is or where they live. That’s why we are investing in projects to raise pupils’ outcomes from an early age, train strong school leaders and support schools in the north, as well as improving outcomes for children in regions that have faced long-term challenges through our 12 Opportunity Areas – five of which are in the north.

This builds on our progress since 2010, with 1.9 million more children in England now in good or outstanding schools, record numbers of young people in education or training - including one million apprenticeships in the north - and more disadvantaged pupils now going to university.

As the Children’s Commissioner notes, many children in the north are now thriving, but there is more to do. Our Northern Powerhouse programme includes £3.4billion investment in projects to boost the local economy, £12million to spread good teaching practice in English and improve early literacy, and schemes that help families to support their child’s education at home.

Maths Hubs

Today, Monday 26 March, Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb announced that top universities in England can now apply to open specialist maths schools for 16- to 19-year-olds to help more young people learn from the best mathematicians in the country.

Maths is one of the most in-demand skills in the labour market and it is already the most popular subject at A level, with almost 25% of students choosing to study it. The government is determined, through its Industrial Strategy, to increase the number of young people studying maths, helping them to secure good jobs and boosting the UK economy.

We are providing £350,000 dedicated funding each year to existing and future post-16 maths schools to support outreach work with local schools and colleges to share their specialist skills and help raise maths standards around the country.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

We want more students to study maths as it can open up a wide range of options for future study, training and work.

Thanks to Government reforms and the hard work of teachers 1.9 million more pupils are in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. We have also introduced a more rigorous maths curriculum and now have record numbers studying maths at A level.

The success of existing maths schools shows the value of tapping into the expertise of our world-class universities. We now want more institutions to follow the lead of King’s and Exeter and help our most talented students, regardless of background and gender.

Minister for the School System Lord Agnew said:

I recently visited King’s maths school and was humbled by the students I met there – their ambition and ability is inspiring. These innovative schools are giving the mathematicians of tomorrow – many from disadvantaged backgrounds – the opportunity to take their talents to the next level. We want more leading universities to open these schools and help encourage more young people across the country to study maths at A level and beyond.

Read more about our specialist maths schools here.

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