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Education in the media: Wednesday 9 May 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Creative Arts, Funding, Mental Health

Today’s Education in the media blog looks at the work the government is doing to look after children’s mental health, the record levels of funding available to schools and the fairer formula to distribute that funding, and the continued uptake of arts subjects at GCSE.

Children's mental health

Today, Wednesday 9 May, the Education and Health Social Care Committees published a report that looks at the Government’s plans to do more to look after the mental health of young people.

This has been reported on widely on broadcast, online and in print, including by BBC Breakfast, the Today Programme, the Times, the Independent, and the Guardian.

Children’s mental health is extremely important and we want all children to get the support they need. Last year we published a green paper on Transforming Children and Young People's Mental Health. It sets out the ambition that children and young people need to help support their mental health and this is backed by over £300 million investment.

The proposals from the green paper include:

  • creating a new mental health workforce of community-based mental health support teams
  • every school and college will be encouraged to appoint a designated lead for mental health
  • a new 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services to be piloted in some areas

The select committees have made a number of criticisms of the plans. Most outlets have reported the suggestion that the plans lack ambition and won’t help children – which could not be further from the truth.

A Government spokesperson said:

We completely reject any suggestion that our plans lack ambition – these changes will transform mental health services for children and young people, including the first ever waiting time standards for those with the most serious problems.

This will be supported by a new workforce - larger than the entire current workforce - and backed by £300m of additional funding that will also provide significant additional resources for all schools. This builds on what good schools are already doing, without adding unnecessarily to teachers’ workloads.

We agree that every young person should be able to access mental health support – however we need to ensure we get this right, which is why we will pilot this approach to make sure services are correct.

School funding

Today, Wednesday 9 May, the campaign group Worth Less? has published the results of a survey suggesting some schools feel like our new funding formula and record levels of investment actually leave them worse off financially.

This has been reported by the Guardian and BBC online.

The truth is that funding for schools is at the highest ever level with core funding rising to a record £43.5 billion by 2020.

Last year, we announced the National Funding Formula to redress historic inequities in funding that have existed for too long, and give schools more certainty than they have had previously on their future budgets by providing indicative allocations for two years.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

There are no cuts in funding and over the next two years every school will attract an increase through our fairer formula. By 2020, core school funding will rise to a record £43.5 billion – the highest ever – and 50% more per pupil in real terms than in 2000.

The fairer formula has also given schools more certainty than they have had previously on their future budgets by providing indicative allocations for two years.

We do recognise that there are cost pressures on schools and many schools have worked hard to manage the impact of these on their budgets. We want to work with schools to bear down on these pressures, to ensure schools can get the best deals possible and target precious resources at the frontline.

Creative arts

Today, Wednesday 9 May, the Guardian has reported on a letter signed by a number of artists raising concerns about the status of arts education in secondary schools. The concerns are based on our drive for more pupils to do the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) – the suite of academic subjects at GCSE that are most prized by employers and universities.

We would like to reassure those that are concerned that the EBacc does not affect the number of pupils who are studying creative arts – in fact, entries to arts GCSEs have remained broadly stable since the introduction of the EBacc in 2010.

We are clear that arts subjects are an important part of our broad and balanced curriculum, which is why we have invested nearly £500 million in music and arts education programmes between 2016 and 2020.

Department for Education spokesperson:

Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers academic standards are rising and 1.9million more pupils are in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.

Our drive to ensure all pupils benefit from a stretching core academic curriculum through the EBacc is not a barrier to pupils enjoying a high-quality arts education. In fact, since the introduction of the EBacc the percentage of pupils taking arts GCSEs has remained stable.

We are investing nearly £500million in music and arts education programmes between 2016 and 2020. This includes the recent announcement of £96million to help talented pupils to attend prestigious arts institutions, such as the Royal Ballet School in London and Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

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