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Education in the Media: 19 April 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Attainment gap, Social mobility, Uncategorized, Universities

Today’s Education in the media blog looks at work to improve young people’s vocabularies and student loan interest rates.


Today, Thursday 19 April, The Guardian, Telegraph, BBC Online and BBC Breakfast carry pieces on a report commissioned by the Oxford University Press which claims a large number of pupils across primary and secondary schools are suffering from a ‘vocabulary deficiency’, also known as the ‘word gap’.

The Government is taking steps to address the word gap, and set out a raft of measures to target this in the social mobility action plan, Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential, with the aim of making sure no child begins school at a disadvantage.

A Department for Education spokesperson:

“Every child, no matter what their background, should be able to master the basics of reading and writing. But still, too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds start school with a poorer vocabulary and language skills than their better off classmates.

“That is why we are taking action to tackle the word gap once and for all – and earlier this year we announced a £26 million network of specialist English Hubs around the country, along with a £5.7million fund to improve literacy and numeracy in early years and primary education.

“And we are seeing progress – our young readers are now ranked amongst the best in the world, the attainment gap between children from wealthier and poorer backgrounds has narrowed 10.5% since 2011 and 1.9 million more children are now being taught in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.”


Student loan interest rates are set in line with the retail price index (RPI), meaning when it rises so do student loan interest rates.

Yesterday, the Office for National Statistics confirmed that the RPI for March as 3.3% meaning the student loan interest rate is up to maximum of 6.3%.

Most students, however, do not pay that level of interest because rates on student loans are weighted according to income, meaning we help those who earn less to pay back their loans. So it’s a common misconception that most students pay the maximum. In fact, students who earn under £25k only pay RPI, now at 3.3%. This table sets out how interest rates are weighted according to affordability.

Earnings                                               Interest rate

Under £25K                                         3.30% (just RPI)

£30K                                                      4.05%

£35K                                                      4.80%

£40K                                                      5.55%

Over £45K                                            6.30%


A Government spokesperson said:

“Our decision to raise the minimum repayment threshold for student loans to £25,000 is saving 600,000 graduates up to £360 per year from this month.

“This change in interest rate will make no impact on a borrowers’ monthly repayments and very few people are likely to be affected by the increase. Once the loans are in repayment, only borrowers earning over £45K are charged the maximum rate. This ensures that they make a fair contribution to the system.

“The government’s review of post-18 education and funding is also underway and will look at how students and taxpayers are getting value for money, including the role of interest rates.”

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