Today’s Education in the Media blog focuses on music and arts in the school curriculum and funding for new digital skills standards. We also round-up National Adoption Week and touch on some good news regarding early years development.
Music and Arts
Yesterday, Thursday 18 October, Lord Black of Brentwood led a debate in the House of Lords regarding music and arts in the school curriculum. This was covered in the Telegraph.
We expect all students to study a broad and balanced curriculum. Many students also choose to take part in the arts as an extra curriculum activity – for example, by playing instruments or taking part in schools plays and productions.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We take the study of the arts extremely seriously which is why music and art remain compulsory parts of the national curriculum up to age 14. We invest heavily in arts and music subjects, with more money going into education programmes to support them than anything else aside from PE.
This government introduced music hubs in 2012 to offer every primary and secondary school student in the country the chance to learn a musical instrument. These hubs are backed by £300m, which is part of nearly £500m investment in music and arts education programmes between 2016-2020.
Yesterday, Thursday 18 October, the Skills Minister Anne Milton announced plans for new adult digital skills qualifications. These qualifications will help more people of all ages to get online and utilise everyday digital technology.
The new plans will see an overhaul of the current national standards, covering the core digital skills needed for the general population. This includes support using devices, sending emails, completing forms, and making payments online.
We will also introduce improved basic digital skills qualifications at two levels – beginner and essential. This is in addition to a nationwide entitlement for all adults to enrol on the new qualifications, free of charge from 2020.
These new plans build on work we have already done to integrate digital learning in education, including introducing a new Computer Science GCSE and A Level. We are also working with top tech companies to provide the highest quality in dedicated digital apprenticeships, and digital route T Levels from 2020.
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:
We have a big challenge to tackle. Technology is advancing quickly, but one in five of us in the UK don’t have basic digital skills. That means it might be a struggle to send an email, search on the internet, or shop online.
Being able to get online is so important. It opens up a whole host of information, including being able to apply for jobs. It is also an important way to keep in touch with friends and family.
I want people of all ages to have the skills and confidence they need for work and everyday life, so I’m thrilled to launch this consultation today to hear what you think of our plans!
You can read more in-depth on our digital skills consultation here.
Early Years Foundation Stage
Yesterday, Thursday 18 October, the department published the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile results for 2018. This looks at the level of development being seen among children in early years.
The latest results show a positive improvement, with a good level of development being seen from 71.5% of children in 2018. This is an increase on last year, and a huge increase from 2013 when the rate was 51.7%.
The percentage of children achieving the expected level or higher in all 17 Early Learning Goals has also increased to 70.2% this year, compared to 69% in 2017, and 48.9% in 2013.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
I want to make children’s literacy and narrowing the early years gap a national cause, a national mission. That’s why in July I set out an ambition to halve the number of children leaving reception without the right early communication and reading skills within the next ten years – because when you’re behind from the start, you rarely catch up with your peers which puts you at an unfair disadvantage.
Today’s results show we are moving in the right direction, but also remind us that we need to be bolder so more children learn these basic skills. Later this year, I am hosting a summit bringing together charities, businesses and other organisations to look at how we can provide practical support for parents to help them encourage their children to learn and develop. This will range from simple practical tools and guidance to investment in projects that have a proven track record of helping families most in need.
You can read more about these latest statistics here.
National Adoption Week
As National Adoption Week comes to a close, Attitude magazine published a feature yesterday about a same-sex couple’s adoption journey.
This piece focused on the experience of this couple, and the support that they found available for them in going through the adoption system.
Peterborough Today also covered a positive story about a couple who adopted siblings. They mention in the piece how supportive the social workers were over the course of the process.
For more coverage on National Adoption Week, follow our Twitter account.