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Education in the Media: Friday 12 October 2018

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Today our Education in the Media blog focuses on the Secretary of State’s visit to Norwich, our position on mobile phones, and the funding going into rural schools.

Secretary of State visits Norwich

Today, Friday 12 October, the Secretary of State has visited City College Norwich to coincide with the announcement from the Skills Minister on the first successful providers to receive funding from the Taking Teaching Further programme. The Secretary of State will also use this chance to talk about Opportunity Areas.

Taking Teaching Further was launched in June and is a £5 million government fund to help recruit the best and brightest candidates from industry into the post-16 and further education workforce and support an ongoing exchange between industry and FE that will result in 80 new expert teachers.

Alongside the support for training new teachers, 20 innovative projects are also being funded totalling over £900,000 to explore how industry and the FE sector can work together to ensure that students gain the knowledge and skills in demand from businesses.

Norwich is host to providers who will be part of this programme, as well as being an Opportunity Area. Norwich City College will be a flagship provider for our new gold standard T Levels when they are introduced from 2020.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:

Attracting talented people to teach in Further Education has never been more important. We are transforming technical education in this country with the introduction of new T Levels. We want staff with industry skills to pass on their expertise to the next generation.

I'm thrilled that we have a chance to bring industry to colleges and it will be exciting to see the differences they can make to their colleges and the students they teach. Further Education changes lives, and our inspiring teachers are a huge part of that.

Mobile Phones in Schools

Yesterday, Thursday 11 October, the Secretary of State delivered a speech at the British Library to mark the official launch of the Confederation of School Trusts. During this speech, he spoke about mobile phone usage in schools. This has been covered by the Times, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and the Sun.

From his speech, Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

We heard a couple of months ago how France would be banning mobile phones in schools. Please be in no doubt what I think about mobile phones.

I firmly believe that kids in schools should not be on their phones. I strongly support schools that ban phones.

But when people asked me if I was going to follow the example of France and impose a national ban – I said no.

Because that’s autonomy in practice. Heads know best how to run their schools and achieve the objectives they want without any unintended consequences.

There are other areas where I want to proactively stress schools’ autonomy.

Too often schools get told that my department or Ofsted expect them to follow the latest fads and fashions in the sector.

That’s why Amanda Spielman, myself and others recently made a video stressing that schools are free to follow their own judgement when it comes to lesson plans, the data they collect, the marking policies.

You can view speech in full here.

Rural Schools

Today, the Independent and the Guardian published articles based on research into rural schools, by support organisation The Key about the amount of funding for rural schools.

There is more money going into schools now than ever before, with an additional £1.3 billion put into core schools funding, over and above existing plans. This will bring the total core schools and high needs budget to £43.5 billion by 2019-20.

IFS figures show that real terms per pupil funding for five to 16 year olds in 2020 will be more than 50 per cent higher than in 2000.

The sparsity factor in the formula allocates £25 million of additional funding specifically to remote schools. This lump sum, combined with the sparsity factor provides key support to small and remote schools in rural communities. This means that across England, rural schools will gain on average of 3.9 per cent through our new national funding formula, with those schools in the most remote locations gaining 5 per cent.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We recognise the importance of rural schools, the role they play in their communities and the challenges they face, which is why we have introduced a new factor in the National Funding Formula to recognise that and set aside £25million specifically to provide support these schools. These steps mean a small rural primary school could attract up to £135,000 in funding to recognise their fixed costs.

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