Skip to main content

Education in the Media: Thursday 19 July 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Mental Health, PSHE, Sex and Relationship Education, Universities

Today’s Education in the media blog looks at Relationships and Sex Education in schools, a report on disadvantaged pupil attainment, a report on international students and the implementation plans for T-Levels.

Relationships and Sex Education

Today, Thursday 19 July, the department published draft guidance on planned changes to the Relationships and Sex Education curriculum in schools. The updated curriculum will be mandatory from 2020 and includes a new focus on mental health and wellbeing, as well as content that is age appropriate at all levels.

This announcement was covered extensively across the media, including by Cosmopolitan, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and The Times. There was also coverage from The Daily Mail. Broadcast outlets including The Today Programme, Sky News and BBC Breakfast also covered this.

The new guidelines will cover mental wellbeing, consent, keeping safe online, physical health, and LGTB issues. We have always been clear that all subject content will be age appropriate. Teachers will talk to primary school pupils about the features of healthy friendships, family relationships and other relationships they likely to encounter. At secondary school, teachers will build on the foundation of Relationships Education in primary and, at the appropriate time, extend teaching to include intimate relationships as well.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

I want to make sure that our children are able to grow up to become happy and well-rounded individuals who know how to deal with the challenges of the modern world. Part of this is making sure they are informed about how to keep themselves safe and healthy and have good relationships with others.

Many of today’s problems did not exist when we last gave schools guidance on how to teach Relationships and Sex Education 18 years ago. The action we’re taking is important to help support teachers and schools design a curriculum that will enrich their pupils in an age appropriate way.

Good physical and mental health is also at the heart of ensuring young people are ready for the adult world. By making health education compulsory we are giving young people the tools they need to be ready to thrive when they leave school.

Sutton Trust Report

Today, Thursday 19 July, the Sutton Trust has put out a report on the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers at different stages of the education system, based on a survey of 1000 children.

This has been covered by The Independent, The Times, The Sun and The Mirror.

It is important to note that, since 2011, the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed by at least 10 per cent over primary and secondary school.

This year alone we have put £2.5 billion of funding into the pupil premium, which is targeted at helping children who are disadvantaged. We have also agreed a memorandum of understanding with the Grammar School Heads Association which sets out how selective schools will work to increase admissions of disadvantaged pupils to selective schools. On top of this,

A DfE spokesperson said:

The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed by at least 10% since 2011 and our reforms to the curriculum are raising standards at both primary and secondary school.

But we want to make sure everyone can reach their potential – that’s why we’re targeting support at some of the poorest areas of the country through our £72m Opportunity Areas programme and our Social Mobility Action Plan is focusing £800million of resources on helping disadvantaged children.

Alongside this we’re working with independent schools, universities and selective schools to create more opportunities for the most disadvantaged pupils and help raise standards further. This builds on the 1.9 million more children now in good or outstanding schools than in 2010 – up from 66% of pupils in 2010 to 86% of pupils as of March 2018.


Yesterday, Wednesday 18 July, the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) wrote to the Department for Education, outlining their intent to launch a judicial review into the planned implementation of T Levels.

This has been covered by The Independent and has also received coverage from TES and FE Week.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

With a rapidly changing world and a big productivity challenge, we have a pressing need to raise our game on technical education. This needs to be a shared endeavour across the world of education, government and business. I am deeply disappointed that this organisation is taking this action, which could ultimately disrupt this vital work.

The trade body involved does not like the idea of a single awarding body in each subject. But this arrangement was central to the Sainsbury plan that is the blueprint for our technical and vocational reforms, and is key to upholding quality. We have been clear since 2016 that this would be the model and it is the right thing to do.

We are pressing on with T Levels, because we owe it to young people in England to give them a technical education to rival that in Germany or Holland or Switzerland; and I urge the Federation of Awarding Bodies to pull back from this unnecessary action and instead focus their energies on making technical education better for the sake of the next generation.

International Students

Today, Thursday 19 July, research published by University College London says that Australia could overtake the UK as the world’s second largest home to international students. The research has been reported by BBC News.

UCAS figures released here show applications for 2018 show the number of EU applicants has risen 2 per cent from 2017 to 50,130. There is a record number of students from outside the EU – 75,380 students have applied to study in the UK, an increase of 6 per cent.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Last week’s most recent UCAS figures show that there are record numbers of international students choosing the UK as a place to study.

We welcome international students and there continues to be no limit on the number who can come here to study, neither are there plans to limit any institution’s ability to recruit them. We have a highly competitive post-study work offer for international students who graduate in the UK and the tier 4 visa pilot is part of the Government’s ongoing activity to support the competitiveness of our world-leading HE institutions.

We have provided EU students starting courses in the 2019/20 academic year with assurances that they will remain eligible for ‘home fee status’, which means they will be charged the same tuition fees as UK students. They will also be able to access financial support for the duration of their course on the same basis as is available today.

Follow us on Twitter and don't forget to sign up for email alerts.

Sharing and comments

Share this page