Today’s Education in the Media looks at requirements the Office for Students is putting in place to ensure vice-chancellor pay is justified, the benefits of the academies system and the strength of our new gold-standard GCSEs.
Today, Tuesday 19 June, the Office for Students (OfS) has outlined requirements that universities follow regarding vice-chancellor pay.
From now on, universities will need to provide the OfS with details on the pay package for their vice-chancellor, as well as justification for the salaries paid. These details will be published in full through an annual report, helping to improve transparency around the issue.
The announcement has been covered by the Guardian, the Times Higher Education, the i, the Independent, and the Times. Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of the OfS, was also interviewed on The Today Programme this morning.
Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:
The Office for Students was set up to ensure our world class university sector can continue to command full public confidence by demonstrating that students and the taxpayer are getting value for money.
We have given it the powers to crack down on excess pay and, in response to calls from the Government, I welcome the move today to ensure high salaries across the sector have to be justified. But these are more than just words, we have given the OfS concrete powers, including financial penalties and ultimately a say over an institutions access to public funding.
Today, Tuesday 19 June, the Education Policy Institute published a report on school performance in academy chains and local authorities in 2017. The report looked at whether there was a difference between the performance of schools at individual academy chains and local authority areas.
Academies help provide parents with choice in the education system, and since 2010 we have converted almost 7,000 schools – many of which are in the most disadvantaged areas of the country – into academies. To add to this, over 480,000 children now study in sponsored academies – typically previously underperforming schools – rated Good or Outstanding.
Academies are subject to a rigorous system of accountability and where there are any instances of under-performance we will not hesitate to take swift action. Overall, the reforms of the last seven years show that autonomy and freedom in the hands of excellent leaders and outstanding teachers can deliver an excellent education.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Academies free up leaders to do innovative, ground-breaking things to raise standards in our schools. This report acknowledges the flexibility academy status offers and we disagree that the solution is to place schools back under local authority control.
Instead, we are empowering academies and trusts to drive improvements and share expertise. The results speak for themselves, with 1.9 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010 – 480,000 of those pupils study in sponsored academies that, typically, were previously underperforming schools, often for many years.
To ensure this continues we are providing £45million in targeted funding for successful multi-academy trusts to tackle underperformance and improve schools in areas across the country that lack capacity.
Today, Tuesday 19 June, The Daily Telegraph ran a piece on their front page on comments from the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders – Geoff Barton – who said the new GCSEs were creating anxiety for pupils calling them “guinea pigs” for the new GCSEs.
Also today, Minister Gibb was interviewed on Woman’s Hour about this topic. Minister Gibb explained that while stress– to a degree – is a natural part of examination, this should not be giving way to anxiety for pupils no matter the exams they are taking, and that the mental health of pupils is of great importance to the government.
That is why last year we outlined £300m of funding to support mental health support for children and young people. This is part of £1.7bn the Government has pledged to help promote, protect and improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
At GCSE level, we have removed the incentives for multiple resits that were not helping children’s education, giving pupils at least two full years of study before they sit exams. At A level, we have created a new structure that will enable students to study for two full years towards an A level without the need to take an AS exam at all.
We are clear that good teaching is one of the most important factors in making sure that pupils feel ready, and that good leaders know that positive mental wellbeing supports attainment, and make that part of the overall school ethos.
You can listen to the Minister’s interview in full here.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We began the process of reforming GCSEs in 2011 to put them on a par with the best in the world so young people are being taught the knowledge and skills they need to prepare them for future success and deliver the skills Britain needs to be fit for the future.
This follows a clear message from employers that the old GCSEs were not preparing young people for the world of work or further study. Teachers and young people have responded well to the introduction of the new qualifications and we trust schools to provide the right support to young people during exam season.
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