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Education in the media: Friday 11 May 2018

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Today’s Education in the media blog looks at our response to the Schools that Work for Everyone consultation including the announcement of the next wave of free schools.

Schools that Work for Everyone

Today, Friday 11 May, we have announced exciting plans that will create more good schools places where there is a need and demand from parents. This builds on the hard work of teachers and the success of the government’s reforms which have created 825,000 new school places since 2010 with 1.9 million more children now in good or outstanding schools.

We have announced a new wave of free school applications, building on the 212,000 places created by free schools since 2010, new support for faith schools where there is demand for good school places and a fresh agreement with the independent schools sector to help improve outcomes for pupils of all backgrounds.

We have also announced a £50 million funding to expand the number of places at existing good or outstanding selective schools. Schools will have to submit a Fair Access and Partnership Plan setting out what action they will take to increase admissions of disadvantaged pupils.

Research shows that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds attain better results in selective schools and around 60 per cent of these schools already prioritise these children in their admissions. For example, King Edward VI in Birmingham actively encourage more pupils from less privileged backgrounds to join their schools, including considering 11+ results for disadvantaged pupils separately to their non-disadvantaged counterparts. A Memorandum of Understanding with the Grammar School Heads Association has also been unveiled, outlining its commitment to widen access and work with local schools to raise standards for all children.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Children only get one chance at an education and they deserve the best, wherever they live and whatever their background. Standards are rising in our schools and we’ve created hundreds of thousands of new places since 2010 but we want to make sure every family can access a good school.

By creating new schools where they are needed most and helping all great schools to grow, we can give parents greater choice in looking at schools that are right for their family – and give children of all backgrounds access to a world-class education.

There has been significant media coverage of this announcement across broadcast, online and the papers which has particularly focused on a £50 million funding to expand the number of places at existing good or outstanding selective schools.

The measures have been welcomed by many including Jim Skinner of the Grammar Schools Heads Association who said:

We are very pleased that, like other good and outstanding schools, selective schools now have access to a fund to allow them to expand their premises.

Parents and Teachers for Excellence Director Mark Lehain added:

The new wave of few schools announced today is fantastic news for communities across the country. Already hundreds of towns and tens of thousands of families have benefitted from the addition of great new schools to our system, and the next wave, targeted at areas that haven’t yet had this, will ensure the benefits are felt wider still.

The Mirror reported that the funding for selective school expansion comes at a time when other schools “are facing cuts”. This is not true. 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 per cent more per pupil in real terms than in 2000.

You can read about our full announcement here.

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