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Cyber bullying

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Today’s Education in the Media blog will cover the Teaching and Learning International Survey, vice chancellor pay and support we provide for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

TALIS survey

Yesterday 19 June, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), which is a survey conducted among primary, lower- and upper-secondary teachers and headteachers worldwide and published every five years.

The survey found that England is one of the countries that faces high levels of cyber bullying.

The Government has sent a clear message to schools that bullying, including cyberbullying, for whatever reason, is unacceptable.

This was covered by BBC online, Independent, and Times.

We recognise that bullying of any kind can now just as easily occur online as face to face, that is why we have put in place a number of powers and a range of support to enable schools to prevent and tackle cyberbullying, including giving head teachers the power to regulate pupils' conduct when they are not on school premises and are not under the lawful control or charge of a member of school staff. Where bullying outside of school is reported to teachers, it should be investigated and acted on.

We also funded the UK Safer Internet Centre to develop cyber-bullying guidance for schools along with an online safety toolkit, to help schools deliver sessions about cyberbullying, peer pressure and sexting.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

All bullying is shameful but cyber bullying is particularly cowardly and pernicious.

We’re changing the RSE and health curriculum so young people learn about the importance of safe and acceptable behaviour online and how their own actions can affect others.

But I know that young people are far from the only victims of online harassment, and teachers and heads can be vulnerable too. This is why we’re going to update our guidance for all school staff on how to protect themselves from cyberbullying, and how to react in the right way if it does take place.

Vice chancellor pay

Today, Thursday 20 June, the Universities and College Union has released findings from a freedom of information about vice chancellor pay.

The findings suggest that four out of five university vice chancellors sit on the pay committees that set the salaries of their institution's senior staff.

This has been reported by the Guardian, Times and Mail.

We are clear that vice chancellors should not sit on the committee that sets their pay – and senior staff pay arrangements should deliver value for money for both students and taxpayers.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Universities receive significant amounts of public funding, so it is only right that their senior staff pay arrangements command public confidence and deliver value for money for both students and taxpayers.

Vice chancellors should not sit on the committee that sets their pay – the Committee of University Chairs has even made this clear through its remuneration code, and we expect a high level of transparency when it comes to universities disclosing this information.

Where issues with senior staff pay lead to concerns over governance, the Office for Students should consider carrying out independent reviews of a providers management adequacy to ensure that these arrangements are fit for purpose.

Children with special education needs and disabilities

Yesterday 19 June, BBC Newsnight ran a package about children with children with special education needs and disabilities not receiving an education. They claim that more than 1,500 children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are without a school place in England, with some waiting up to two years for provision. This was then reported on BBC online.

Our statistics, as at January 2019 show that 1,203 children of compulsory school age or below (aged under 16) with an Education Health and Care plan are awaiting a school place. Of that figure, we know that some will be, for example, age 4 and waiting for their first primary school place, and that a number are children who have recently moved into a local authority area waiting to be placed in a school as part of the in-year application process.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Our ambition is for every child to have access to a world class education, no matter their background and expect every school to provide high quality support to children with special educational needs and disabilities. The introduction of Education Health Care Plans has also meant more than a quarter of a million children with the most complex special educational needs are receiving the tailored support they need to thrive.

We know that a number of children with EHC plans are waiting for a place in school, having moved to a new local authority area, or waiting for their first primary school place. Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient school places for all children in their local area. We encourage local authorities and providers to work collaboratively so the right range of provision is available for children.

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