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Education in the media: Wednesday 27 June 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Adoption, Attainment gap, GCSE results, Term time holidays


Today’s education in the media looks at learning foreign languages in schools, flexible terms dates, adoption and a letter from the Skills Minister about the apprenticeship levy.

Foreign Language

Today, Wednesday 27 June, the British Council published a report into language trends. Their report looks at whether an area is disadvantaged or not is related to the uptake of language GCSEs. The Mirror (p18), BBC online, the Guardian (p4), Daily Mail (p21), Schools Week and the Times (p4) all report on the Survey, with much of the focus on the rising popularity of Spanish.

Since 2010, the number of students taking a language GCSE has increased but we need to do more. Teachers, parents and businesses along with the government must ensure that pupils choosing their GCSEs understand the importance of languages to their future.

The government’s ambition is that by 2022, 75% of pupils will begin to study the EBacc subjects (English, maths, science, history or geography and a language) at GCSE, which means that we will see three quarters of pupils taking languages GCSEs and that this will rise to 9 in 10 by 2025.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

Since 2010, the proportion of pupils taking a language GCSE has increased from 40 per cent to 47 per cent and more disadvantaged pupils are studying the core academic subjects, which include maths, English, science, humanities and a modern foreign language. The attainment gap between these pupils and their peers has also narrowed by 10 per cent since 2011. However, we know there is more to do.

We know that employers value language skills and this combination of subjects teaches pupils the knowledge they need to succeed in an increasingly global economy. It is critical that teachers encourage all pupils to take up a language, and we are supporting this through the creation of expert schools that will share best practice across the country.

Term time holidays

Today, Wednesday 27 June, Woodlands School in Basildon has announced that it will offer parents the chance to take their children out of school for one week in July next year for ‘enrichment week’ so that it might be more affordable for parents to take their children on holiday. The children whose parents take up this opportunity must complete a booklet about what they have learnt while they were away. This has been covered by BBC Online.

School holidays are not determined at a national level by the Department; they are agreed locally by schools and local authorities. Headteachers know their pupils and parents best and that’s why schools and local authorities have the flexibility to set their own term dates so they can ensure the timing of school holidays works for pupils and their families.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Children only get one chance at education and our position remains that they should not be taken out of school without good reason.

We have given academies the flexibility to set their term dates and local authorities are able to vary term dates for all schools they are responsible for. We have also given head teachers the discretion to grant leave of absence during term time; in maintained schools in exceptional circumstances.


Today, Wednesday 27 June, the charity Adoption UK have released a report about the support that adopted children receive in schools – especially relating to their emotional wellbeing. This has been covered by the Guardian.

To ensure adopters have the support they need, we introduced the Adoption Support Fund, which to date has provided more than £80m to support thousands of children and families. .

From September, schools will be required to appoint a designated teacher for children adopted from care to help them at school and will be able to call upon the expert advice of the local Virtual School Head.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Many children and their adoptive families have had their lives transformed by adoption, and we are determined to support them every step of the way.

Schools receive £2,300 of pupil premium plus funding for each child adopted from care, and from September schools will be required to appoint a designated teacher for children adopted from care to help them at school. As well, trainee teachers must show they understand how a range of factors can affect a pupils’ ability to learn such as social and emotional issues  – and how best to overcome these – to gain their Qualified Teacher Status.

Skills Minister Letter

Skills Minister Anne Milton has written a letter to the Evening Standard about apprenticeships. She has outlined her ambition to teach parents about the value of apprenticeships and has urged them to use the ‘Find an apprenticeship service’ to see what is on offer. Our universities are world class but they are not the only way forward – apprenticeships offer many opportunities for young people to get on in life.

Have a look at what apprenticeships are available here.

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