Sixth form and Further Education funding has fallen by a fifth since 2010, says IFS

From The Guardian: Funding for school sixth formers has fallen by more than a fifth in the past eight years amid declining investment in post-16 education, according to an authoritative study.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report said funding for sixth form and further education (FE) students has been been cut “much more sharply” than any other area of education, with spending per sixth form student down 21% since its peak in 2010.

FE has also been hard hit, with an 8% cut in real terms since 2010/11 – and from a lower base than sixth forms – resulting in course closures, job losses and cuts to student support services. There are also concerns about the capacity of the FE system to deliver government reforms in the absence of additional funding.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Government accused of ‘total failure’ to widen elite university access

From the Guardian: Ministers have been accused of a “total and abject failure” to widen access to top universities for disadvantaged students, after analysis by the Labour party found the proportions attending Russell Group universities had increased by only one percentage point since 2010.

Separately, research by a group of Labour MPs suggests pupils from towns are less likely to attend university than those from London, with a nine percentage point gap between pupils from London and the rest of the country, and a 20-point gap between those from low-income families in the capital and in towns.

Labour said the Russell Group, which includes Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, University College London and Imperial College, had failed to recruit students from neighbourhoods where few traditionally enter higher education.

The party’s analysis of the Higher Education Statistics Agency data found the proportion of students from those areas had increased by one percentage point across all Russell Group universities to 6%, less than half that at non-Russell Group institutions.

Labour said it was clear the Department for Education would not reach the target set in 2013 by the then prime minister, David Cameron, to double the proportion of university entrants from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2020.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

End to nursing student bursaries sees numbers keep falling

From Morning Star: The nursing profession has been left in “managed decline,” the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said today, responding to a further drop in student numbers due to bursaries being replaced by loans.

The number of nursing students from England taking university places has fallen by 4 per cent from last year and 11 per cent since 2016 when bursaries were axed, according to data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

The RCN said the decline could jeopardise the future supply of nurses at a time when the NHS is dire need of such staff.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

First-time buyers left high and dry as number of cheaper homes plunges under the Tories

From Daily Mirror: First-time buyers have been left high and dry after the number of cheaper homes plunged under the Tories. Just 7,245 new affordable homes to buy were funded by the government last year – down from 20,298 in 2009/10.

[Read article on Mirror website…]

Cash-strapped Bournemouth school scraps hot meals

From BBC News: A head teacher has told parents her school can no longer afford to provide a hot school meals service because of budgetary pressures.

Emma Rawson, headteacher at Stourfield Junior School in Southbourne, said funding pressures meant the school could no longer afford the staffing costs of more than £20,000 per year.

She said she was “frustrated” because some pupils relied on those hot meals.

The Department for Education requires all schools to serve hot or cold meals.

The school said it would provide cold packed lunches for those children eligible for free school meals. All other pupils would be required to bring their own food to school.

[Read full article on BBC News website…]

Government adding £16,000 to graduate debts by ‘rigging’ student loan interest rates, say Labour

From The Independent: According to House of Commons Library analysis, student debt is higher because the government uses the retail price index inflation measure to calculate interest on the loans, rather than the consumer price index.

[Read article on Independent website…]

Creative subjects being squeezed, say schools

From BBC News: Creative arts subjects are being cut back in many secondary schools in England, a BBC survey suggests.

More than 1,200 schools responded – over 40% of secondary schools.

Of the schools that responded, nine in every 10 said they had cut back on lesson time, staff or facilities in at least one creative arts subject.

[Read full article on BBC News website…]

Theresa May Revives Grammar Schools Plan With £50m Boost

From HuffPost UK: Theresa May has prompted anger after reviving her flagship policy to expand grammar schools by handing them £50 million to increase places.

Lifting the ban on creating new grammar schools was a key part of last year’s Conservative manifesto – but the proposals were dropped in the wake of May’s election humiliation.

Under fresh plans by Education Secretary Damian Hinds, however, tens of millions of pounds are to be pumped into creating more places at selective state schools.

The controversial move comes just days after the Office for Budget Responsibility said the cost for a planned 1% pay rise for teachers could only be met by heads “squeezing non-pay spending and by reducing the workforce”.

A poll by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in March also showed more than a third of school heads have already cut teachers or teaching hours due to the Tories’ funding squeeze.

School leaders, unions and the Labour Party have lined up to slam the decision to resurrect “the grammar school corpse” with “scarce” new money, claiming the model stoked inequality.

[Read full article on HuffPost UK…]

These statistics show the true cost of the Tory housing crisis for young people

From Left Foot Forward: Figures on the state of the home ownership market in England, published by the Office of National Statistics, reveal rapidly worsening affordability problems, putting buying a home beyond most young people.

The affordability ratio calculated by ONS shows that the average house price was 7.9 times average annual earnings in 2017 – the largest ever recorded and more than double that of 1997.

To achieve levels of affordability last seen two decades ago – the average house price in 1997 being 3.5 times average earnings – would require that today’s average earnings would need to double to almost £66,000 annually.

Put another way, average earnings would have to increase by around 3% every year for the next four decades, while the average house price stayed constant at today’s level, for 1997 levels of affordability to be reached once more.

[Read full article on Left Foot Forward…]

Rise in knife crime shines spotlight on youth services cuts

From YMCA: Youth services have become the ‘go to’ budget for cuts as local authorities do not recognise the long-term benefits to young people, YMCA has warned, after an analysis shows spending across these services in England and Wales has fallen by 61% over the past six years.

YMCA England & Wales, which supports 33,560 young people through youth work and youth services every year, today released its analysis of local authority spending on youth services, revealing it had reduced by more than £750m since 2010/11 across England and Wales.

Young people in the West Midlands and the North West have been among the hardest hit, with local authorities in the West Midlands cutting spending by 71% since 2010/11, while the North West saw cuts of 68%. Local authorities in London, which have faced criticism following the rise in recent knife crime among young people, have cut spending on youth services by 59% since 2010/11.

[Read full article on YMCA website…]

One in 12 young people are working in zero-hours jobs

From Morning Star: Zero-hours contracts have risen to nearly two million in Britain, with one in 12 young people working uncertain hours.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the figures, published today, increased from 1.7m to 1.8m in the year to last November and represents 6 per cent of all contracts.

Of these, the ONS has reported, 901,000 workers are on zero-hours contracts as some are forced to work more than one.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Most people are not on zero-hours contracts by choice. They want the same rights, security and guaranteed hours as other employees.

“More than half of zero-hours contract workers have had jobs cancelled with less than a day’s notice. Zero-hours contracts are a licence to treat people like disposable labour and the government should ban them.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Number of zero-hours contracts in UK rose by 100,000 in 2017 – ONS

From The Guardian: The number of zero-hours contracts in use across the UK rose by about 100,000 last year, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics, said the number of employment contracts without a minimum number of guaranteed hours increased to 1.8m in the year to November, up from 1.7m in 2016.

People on zero hours contracts are more likely to be young, women, students or those in part-time employment. Although some like the potential flexibility, about a quarter of people want to work more hours, compared with only 7.3% of people in other forms of employment.

A survey from the TUC found more than half of workers on zero-hours contracts have had shifts cancelled less than 24 hours before they were due to begin.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Young Britons have never been unhappier, research suggests

From The Guardian: Young people’s happiness across every single area of their lives has never been lower, research by the Prince’s Trust has found.

The charity said the results of its annual UK Youth Index, which gauges young people’s happiness and confidence across a range of areas, from working life to mental and physical health, should “ring alarm bells”.

The national survey shows young people’s wellbeing has fallen over the last 12 months and is at its lowest level since the study was first commissioned in 2009. 

The research, based on a survey of 2,194 respondents aged 16 to 25, revealed that three out of five young people regularly feel stressed amid concerns over jobs and money, while one in four felt “hopeless”, and half had experienced a mental health problem.

Almost half said they did not feel they could cope well with setbacks in life, but despite this more than one quarter said they would not ask for help if they were feeling overwhelmed.

The index shows that young people are particularly disillusioned with the job market and are concerned about money and future prospects. One in ten said they had lost a job through redundancy or having a contract terminated or not renewed, or being fired, while 54% said they were worried about their finances.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

“Cut youth services and violent crime will rise – is that really so hard to see?”

Polly Toynbee writes in The Guardian… Another young person killed in the escalating epidemic of violence. The cause? Take your pick.

The right blames Theresa May for easing up on stop and search for weapons – though she knew there is no evidence that it catches or deters, while it fuels anti-police anger. Others suggest decriminalising drugs would destroy the trade that underpins this mayhem.

Unless you think nothing works, shutting down most youth services, including successful programmes to tackle gang violence, was always likely to ricochet back. Youth services went first in the post-2010 slash-and-burn of council budgets. The young poor were early targets for all benefits cuts: their education maintenance allowance went – up to £30 a week for 16- to 19-year-olds from lowest-income families to keep them in education, covering travel, lunches, books and pocket money. Their families lost child tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit, and were often forced to move and move again.

Causes are always complex – but does anyone think those cuts had zero effect on young teenagers turning to gangs, drug-dealing and local identity wars, seeking a fleeting sense of respect as so much was taken away?

[Read full column on Guardian website…]

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