Today’s Education in the media blog focuses on the launch of Opportunity North East, as well as the work going into continually improving the standards of apprenticeships.
Opportunity North East
Today, Monday 8 October, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds, has announced the launch of a £24 million programme to increase social mobility and help communities to prosper in the North East of England. This has been covered by the Independent, the Times and the Daily Express.
The Opportunity North East initiative aims to improve school performance and increase the number of young people in further and higher education in the north east region.
In order to achieve this, £12 million will be invested in targeted approaches to improve the transition from primary to secondary schools. This will include partnering with local businesses to improve job prospects for young people in the area.
In addition to this, a further £12 million will go towards boosting early career training for new teachers and improving school standards.
Projects funded through the Opportunity North East programme will be in place in 2019 and will build on the good work already happening in the region.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
Talent and potential are evenly spread, but opportunities sometimes aren’t. With Opportunity North East I am going to work with schools, colleges, businesses and universities – including those beyond the area – to redress the balance.
There are today too many education measures on which the North East is listed ninth in the list of nine English regions. It doesn’t have to be like that. In fact the North East has a lot of really outstanding education – especially so at primary level. The job now is to spread that through more of the secondary level and beyond.
It’s absolutely right that we challenge ourselves to do things like increasing access to university for young people from black and minority ethnic communities but we must remember that disadvantage is not limited to a single group.
White British disadvantaged boys are the least likely of any large ethnic group to go to university. We need to ask ourselves why that is and challenge government, universities and the wider system to change that.
It’s vital that we do this to make sure that no part of our country feels as though it has been left behind, and that every community feels like this is a country that works for everyone.
Today, Monday 8 October, the Education Select Committee published its report on the quality and effectiveness of apprenticeships and the training providers delivering them. This was covered by the Times, City AM and BBC Breakfast.
Over the next two years, the National Apprenticeship Service is focusing on raising the value of apprenticeships undertaken in disadvantaged areas. As part of this we will work with local partners across some of the most deprived local authority areas.
We are also working with the Office for Students on developing and increasing the take up of degree apprenticeships through the Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund.
We are working with the Department for Transport to monitor the costs paid for transport by young people, as well as monitoring the wages paid to apprentices. As of 2016, the pay received by apprentices in England was £6.70 per hour on average at Level 2 and 3, and £9.83 per hour for higher levels.
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:
I really welcome the Education Select Committee’s report published today. We all know that an apprenticeship can change the lives of people for the better with higher wages and better job prospects. It’s an opportunity that everyone should have.
It’s also a particular opportunity for those from more disadvantaged backgrounds who will feel those benefits even more. We have a range of measures in place to help young people from more disadvantage backgrounds to take up an apprenticeship with extra funding for providers as well as bursaries of £1,000 paid directly to apprentices who are leaving care.
It is essential that apprenticeship training is of high-quality. We have given Ofsted additional funding so it can hold the rising numbers of training providers to account. Of those registered providers that have been inspected, 83 per cent were rated as good or outstanding. Any provider that falls short of the required standards will be removed from our register and stopped from taking on new apprentices until they have improved.
We will look at the report with interest as we want to make our apprenticeship system work even better. Last week the Chancellor announced changes to the apprenticeship levy in response to feedback from business. We will respond to the report in full in the near future.