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Education in the media: Thursday 31 May 2018

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Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at a report out from the Sutton Trust and the National Foundation for Educational Research into free schools, a UCAS report and the arts.

Sutton Trust and National Foundation for Education Research report

Today, Thursday 31 May, the Sutton Trust and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) published a report on free schools looking at the proportion that are established by parent groups or using innovative practices. This was covered by the Guardian, The Times, The Independent, Metro, Radio 4 Today and BBC Online.

Free schools are one of the highest performing group of non-selective state schools, with 30 per cent of those inspected rated outstanding by Ofsted. They build on the government’s strong record in creating more good school places. Already there are 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools compared to 2010.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

There are 1.9million more children in good or outstanding schools in 2010 and the free schools programme has been a vital part of that improvement. They are driving up standards, introducing innovative practices, and giving parents more choice of a good school place, with 84% of free schools inspected by Ofsted rated good or outstanding and 30% rated as outstanding.

Almost 400 free schools have opened since 2010 – creating over 212,000 places – and nearly half of those schools are in the most deprived areas of the country. We are now inviting applications for more free schools and will prioritise those proposals that want to set up in areas with the lowest educational performance and greatest need for more good school places.

UCAS report

On Thursday 31 May, UCAS published the results of an inquiry into its verification process after reports in April that the process was flagging a disproportionate amount of applications from black students as fraudulent. UCAS also set out the steps it was taken to address this issue.

This has been reported on by The Mail, Independent, The Sun, and The Times.

There should be no barrier to any person’s ambitions and we are already seeing record numbers of disadvantaged young people going to university.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Any bias against people due to their ethnicity or background is completely unacceptable, and we welcome the action taken by UCAS to investigate this issue.

We have seen record entry rates at universities across all ethnic groups, but we recognise there is more to do. That is why we have produced guidance asking the Office for Students to push universities, particularly those that are highly selective, to close the gap in access faster.

We have introduced sweeping reforms through the Higher Education and Research Act, requiring all universities to publish applications, offers and acceptance rates broken down by gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background.

Music lessons

Today, Thursday 31 May, the I carried a comment piece on schools music lessons. The piece looks at music teaching across the country and the number of pupils studying music at GCSE and A level.

We believe all pupils should have access to an excellent, well-rounded education, and the arts are central to this. In maintained schools, music and art design are compulsory. Pupils can also take part in a range of out-of-school activities funded by the department such as the music education hubs, The Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday Clubs or National Youth Music Organisations.

A 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.

Arts subjects are an important part of our balanced curriculum and we are clear that all children and young people should have the opportunity to learn dance or drama. That’s why we have invested nearly £500 million in music and arts education programmes between 2016 and 2020. This includes £300 million for a network of music education hubs to make sure every child has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.

Please read more about our music and arts investment here.

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