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Education in the media: Wednesday 2 May 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Attainment gap, early years, Exams and qualifications

Today’s Education in the media blog looks at academic cheating, men in the early years workforce and concerns about regional differences in school standards.

Academic Cheating

Yesterday, Tuesday, 1 May, a BBC investigation uncovered that more than 250 YouTube channels are promoting an online service that enables school pupils and university students to cheat. EduBirdie, based in Ukraine, allows students to buy essays on a range of subjects. The BBC investigation found that more than 1,400 videos contained EduBirdie adverts.

The story ran on BBC News last night, and was followed-up today by the Today Programme, BBC Online, Mail Online, the Times, Telegraph and the Sun.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah spoke out about the issue on BBC News, calling EduBirdie's marketing “shocking and pernicious” as it presented cheating as "a lifestyle choice". Talking to Branwen Jefferies, the BBC’s education editor, the Minister called for the YouTubers involved to be "called out" for abusing their power as social influencers.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

University education is all about learning, training your intellect and applying knowledge to a high standard. Students work incredibly hard to get a place at university and those who choose to cheat risk throwing it all away, and are cheating their futures, for the sake of a shortcut.

These websites are a black market for students and undermine the quality of our degrees, putting our world-class reputation at risk. They are exploitative of young people and I expect universities to be taking steps tackle this issue – the OfS will take tough action if they fail to do so.

Men in Early Years

Today, Wednesday 2 May, the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) issued a press release regarding school leaders’ calls for more male role models in the early years workforce.

This has been covered today by BBC Breakfast, the Sun, PA The Huffington Post and in a nib in the Daily Mirror.

We are addressing this issue. The early years workforce strategy from March 2017 committed to us setting up a gender diversity task workforce and finish group (GDTF) to consider the issue in greater detail. The GDTF group will report to the department in due course on the factors influencing the number of men in childcare and present possible solutions.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

It is important that young children to have both male and female role models in their early years and having a diverse range of people working in childcare has an important part to play in this.

We have set up a group to look at the number of men working in early years in more depth and consider what more could be done to encourage men to consider this rewarding career. We look forward to the group’s findings and will be considering them carefully to see what steps can be taken to address this issue.

Education in the North

Today, Wednesday, 2 May, the i reported on the Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s (NPP) calls for the government to increase the number of good or outstanding schools in the North by 2022.

We are clear that every child, regardless of their background, should have access to the education they are entitled to. Since 2010, there are 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools. On top of this, nine out of ten schools received the rating in their last Ofsted inspection.

We are aware of regional disparities and that’s part of the reason the department began a £72m programme to fund 12 opportunity areas throughout the country, which look to raise attainment in areas identified as more typically disadvantaged than most: five of the 12 areas are in the north.

This is part of the wider social mobility action plan, which will aim to help improve social mobility in disadvantaged areas.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Across the country 9 out of ten schools are now rated good or outstanding and 1.9million, more pupils are now in these schools than in 2010. But we know there are areas where standards fall short and want to create a country where everyone gets the best start in life, regardless of where they’re from.

We are investing in projects to raise pupils’ outcomes from an early age, train effective school leaders and we are investing £70 million to boost school performance in the north as part of the Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy.

We are also improving educational attainment for children in areas that have faced long-term challenges through our 12 Opportunity Areas – five of which are in the north.

Read more about the government’s social mobility action plan here.

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