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Mental health support and academy data

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Today’s blog looks at newly released statistics on academies and university applications. We will also look at our mental health support programme we announced for 20,000 schools and colleges.

Mental health support

Today, Friday 12 July, we have announced a new mental health training scheme for schools, colleges and NHS experts. This is part of the Department’s commitment to deliver the Green Paper, Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health and follows a pilot in 2015.

The programme will be delivered over a four-year period from 2019 to 2023 until all schools and colleges have been given the opportunity to take up the offer, and will be backed by £9.3 million funding from the department.

This was reported by Sky News who ran a package about our announcement this morning and it featured an interview with the Education Secretary. As well as the Telegraph and TES.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

 School and college should be a place where young people feel valued, supported and listened to – and I know that this is the case for so many thanks to the dedication of their teachers and support staff. But there are limits to what can be asked or expected of teachers - they are not, and should not, be mental health professionals.

That’s why this new training is important, by bringing school and college staff into the same room as NHS professionals and encouraging them to work together, sharing their expertise and making sure they have the information they need so that more pupils get the right help at the right time.

This builds on the significant measures we’ve already put in place to improve children’s wellbeing, including our new mandatory health education curriculum and the mental health first aid training being offered to schools and colleges.

Office for Students statistics on grade inflation

On Thursday 11 July, the Office for Students (OfS) published a report showing the changes in graduate attainment for 2018. The statistics showed that there is a rise in proportion of pupils getting first class degrees.

The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, has previously called on institutions to ‘reset the norm’ over the proportion of firsts and 2:1 degrees awarded.

This was reported by the Guardian, Daily Mail, Financial Times, BBC Online, Inews, Telegraph, Sun and Times.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

What sets the UK’s world-leading universities apart is our relentless focus on quality and I am clear that this must be protected at all costs.

It cannot be right that some students are awarded higher grades for the same level of achievement than those from previous years. We owe it to the hard-working students and institutions who play by the rules to stamp out this unfair practice. Therefore, today’s figures are disappointing and risk compromising the public trust in the high standards of our universities.

The sector has committed to tackling grade inflation but now this needs to be followed by action. Increases in the numbers getting top degrees should only happen where there is actual underlying improvement. We need to see rapid action on this. I expect the OfS to challenge those providers where the data suggests there are unjustified and unexplained increases in attainment, and demand evidence of the actions they are taking to stop this.


On Thursday 11 July, we published statistics on academies. They show there are 380,000 children in England now studying in good and outstanding sponsored academies, up from 300,000 in December 2017.

By matching typically under-performing schools with a strong academy, schools are able to benefit from the network of support from a trust with both the capacity and capability to drive up standards, giving parents the opportunity to send their children to a good or outstanding school, where they may not have previously been able to.

The release of these statistics were reported by the Guardian. However, they focused on 300 schools becoming academies in the last three years – and suggested this wasn’t a positive move for them. However, we disagree with this – there are now 8,300 schools in the country that have become an academy or opened as a free school since 2010 and hundreds of schools each year make the positive choice to become an academy.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Academies have been at the heart of reforms that have revolutionised education and driven up standards since 2010, and this is just the latest evidence that they are leading the way in turning around some of the most challenging schools.

It should not be forgotten that academy trusts are charitable institutions, giving back to their communities, and making a huge difference to the futures of thousands of young people – the figures today prove this point loud and clear, and it is important that we tell their stories.

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