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Education in the media: Thursday 3 May 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprenticeships, SEND, Universities

Today’s Education in the media blog looks at our plans to create guidance on free speech in universities, support for children with special educational needs and a 22-year-old electrician apprentice talking about her training.


Today, Thursday 3 May, Universities Minister Sam Gyimah held a summit with higher education sector leaders to call on higher education organisations to stamp out those attempting to shut down free speech on universities across the countries.

The free speech summit was hosted at the Department for Education and brought together a wide range of influential organisations, including those that have existing guidance in this area, such as the Charity Commission, Universities UK and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Minister Gyimah offered to work with the sector to create new guidance that will, for the first time, provide clarity on the rules for both students and universities – making this the first government intervention of its kind since the free speech duty was introduced in 1986.

This has had widespread coverage in the media including in the Guardian, Telegraph, Times , Daily Mail , Sun, i News and City AM.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling.

There is a risk that overzealous interpretation of a dizzying variety of rules is acting as a brake on legal free speech on campus.

That is why I am bringing together leaders from across the higher education sector to clarify the rules and regulations around speakers and events to prevent bureaucrats or wreckers on campus from exploiting gaps for their own ends.


Today, Thursday 3 May, a group of organisations including the National Association of Head Teachers have written to the Chancellor to ask him to provide more money for schools’ high needs budgets to support children with special educational needs.

This has been reported by the Mirror.

We want to make sure that children with special education needs get the support they need, and that is why we are investing £6 billion this year – the highest amount that has ever been invested to support pupils with special educational needs.

We are also undertaking major reforms to the special educational needs system so that support is better tailored to individuals. This has included replacing statements with new Education, Health and Care plans that put the child and their family at the centre.

A Department for Education Spokesperson said:

The high needs budget for pupils with special educational needs is £6 billion this year – the highest it’s ever been – and core school funding will rise to a record £43.5 billion by 2020 - a 50% real terms per pupil increase from 2000.

We want every child to have the support they need to unlock their potential, whatever their background and no matter what challenges they face – which is why we have undertaken the biggest reforms in a generation, introducing new Education, Health and Care plans which put children and young people with special educational needs at the heart of the process.


Today, Thursday 3 May, the Daily Mail has reported on a 22- year-old apprentice called Gemma Scarlett from Dagenham who is training to become an electrician.

Gemma, who is three years into her four-year apprenticeship, is keen to encourage more young women to follow in her footsteps. She said:

Being an electrician for me was an excellent career choice; I am naturally very practical and no two days are the same.

My mum was always encouraging me to get into construction from an early age and my dad is happy for me too as he knows this is a great opportunity for my future career prospects.

The article also includes comments from Sarah Kennedy, the apprentice Manager at Barking and Dagenham council who said:

Apprenticeships are great, as students get a blend of classroom and on-the-job learning.

It’s a win-win situation for people like Gemma and organisations the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

Apprenticeships offer people of all ages the opportunity to earn and learn at the same time and thanks to our reforms we are seeing an increase in the number of people starting on higher level apprenticeships, such as engineering and law.

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