Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at our latest announcement on sustaining student finance support, as well as a piece by the I on the benefits of phonics.
Yesterday, Tuesday 23 July, the department announced arrangements for higher education student finance for the 2020/21 academic year. This was picked up by the Daily Mail.
We have confirmed that the maximum tuition fees for full-time and part time undergraduate courses will remain at 2019/20 levels of £9,250 for a standard full-time course. In addition to this, maximum undergraduate loans for living costs will increase by forecast inflation, as will disabled students’ allowances for undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said:
I am pleased to announce not only are we freezing tuition fees for 2020/21, but we are also increasing maintenance loans for living costs to the highest ever level - keeping more money in students’ pockets.
As a Government, we have seen a record rate of disadvantaged 18-year-olds going to university, and we have made it a priority to ensure that we continue to improve access and participation across the country.
Today’s announcement continues to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to ensuring that every student is given an equal chance – extending opportunity and reducing barriers, while still enabling universities to plan sustainably for the future.
Today, Wednesday 24 July, I News published a story about phonics, reporting that the reading method has helped disadvantaged children to improve their reading.
Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:
It is because reading means so much, because it is such a fundamental skill that unlocks so many doors, that this Government has put so much focus on it.
Our focus on phonics in primary schools is helping more pupils open up to the joys of the written and spoken word, with 163,000 more six-year-olds on track to be fluent readers compared to 2012, when phonics screening checks were introduced. We are in the middle of the phonics check fortnight with primary schools carrying out a short test to ensure children are on track to becoming fluent readers. Last year 82% of year 1 pupils reached the expected standard in the check – up from 58% in 2012 – a reflection of how the teaching of reading and of phonics has improved since 2010.
Reading is, of course, more than just phonics. It also involves fluency and speed of reading, comprehending what is read, a growing vocabulary, and the development of a habit and love of reading for pleasure. Research suggests reading helps with personal development as well as educational attainment and that reading for pleasure has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their parents’ socio-economic background. We are, therefore, promoting all these components of reading, which are part and parcel of the new primary school curriculum.