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Education in the Media: Monday 19 November

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Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at accelerated degree courses, employability and phonics attainment.

Accelerated Degrees

Today, Monday 19 November, we have published our response to the Accelerated Degrees consultation, which looks at widening opportunities with the expansion of two-year degree courses. This was covered by the Times, the Independent, the Mirror and the Metro.

This reform will see prospective university students handed more choice than ever in choosing the course that is right for them. The streamlined two-year route will offer a faster route to graduation for mature students, and a fast-tracked way into the workforce for those keen to enter post-graduate work as soon as possible.

On top of this, the courses would be capped at £11,100 for an accelerated degree course – meaning that over the two years, students will save £5,500 compared to what they would pay over three years.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said: 

Innovative solutions and ground-breaking opportunities remain the driving force behind our higher education system. We have created a successful, world-class system but this is all about making it even better.

Accelerated degrees not only make it possible for the next generation of students to access higher education and the undeniable financial, academic and personal benefits it has to offer, but drives the sector to offer dynamic choices that serve students’ needs.

Providers will be able to tap into a new market of students, particularly mature students and those who commute, who were previously locked out of higher education. This provision creates a new arena of competition that delivers for students, taxpayers and employers.

CBI Report

Today, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) published a report which looks at how efficiently young people feel that education is preparing them for work. This was covered in brief by the Express, the Sun and the Metro.

We recognise the importance of the education system preparing young people with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. The Education Secretary recently visited Germany and the Netherlands to learn about the successes of their technical education systems, in a bid to help us evaluate our current system in comparison with fellow countries with productive and enterprising economies.

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds said:

For decades we have had insufficient social mobility in Britain, but now there is encouraging progress – we have record rates of 18 year olds going to university, exceptionally low youth unemployment and the attainment gap between disadvantaged and their better off peers has fallen at primary and secondary level. Of course there is still more to do to make sure that there is true equality of opportunity.

We are working with employers across the country so everyone leaves education ready for work, and so businesses can employ people with the higher skills they need for a rapidly changing world.

We are working hand in hand with business to develop our new T Levels - technical equivalents of A Levels - and through the work of the Careers and Enterprise Company are giving young people more experience of the world of work while at school.


On Sunday 18 November, the Mail on Sunday ran a piece which focused on the 2018 phonics screening check results. This piece specifically focused on attainment of different ethnic groups. The Times also covered this story.

Minister for Schools Standards Nick Gibb said:

Our most recent data on the phonics screening check shows the performance of white British pupils has risen; from 58% in 2012 to 83% in 2018. Performance for all pupils has increased, with 163,000 more six-year-olds on track to be fluent readers than in 2012.

But we want to ensure that all children, regardless of background, learn to read well. That’s why, this week, the Education Secretary hosted a summit focused on supporting parents to nurture children’s early communication skills at home. We are also investing £26million in a national network of English Hub schools to improve teaching of phonics, early language and reading.

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