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…]

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…]

Impact of austerity leaves schoolchildren at risk of missing out on music

From SWLondoner: Following the austerity measures implemented by the coalition government, funding for the arts was curtailed, and access to music education has become increasingly difficult.

The 2010 comprehensive spending review announced a 30% cut the Arts Council England budget. These cuts placed significant strain on our cultural organisations, including theatres, orchestras, music venues and art galleries.

Our most prestigious institutions, including the National Theatre, Southbank Centre, Royal opera House, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, are set to lose £2.5million of Arts Council funding per year between them.

Yet the impacts are more widespread; with cuts to local council budgets, less money is being spent on grassroots music education.

While 85% of parents state that music education is beneficial for their children, 70% say that the cost is prohibitive.

The National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain stated that 70% of its members were privately educated, which underlines that access remains an ongoing challenge.

[Read full article on SWLondoner…]

More than 600,000 pupils in England taught by unqualified teachers, says Labour

From The Guardian: Labour has accused Theresa May’s government of allowing more than 600,000 pupils to be taught by unqualified teachers.

After a pledge by Jeremy Corbyn to stamp out the practice, the party has analysed official figures to calculate that 613,000 pupils in state-funded schools in England have been taught by adults with no formal teaching qualifications.

Michael Gove, the former education secretary, introduced the right for free schools and academies to use unqualified teachers in 2012, a move which has been expanded under the current education secretary, Justine Greening.

Labour claims the use of teachers who are not qualified leads to children in state schools being taught by people who have had no guaranteed training in safeguarding children, controlling a class or adapting teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils.

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Tory Government cost-cutting plans would have removed requirement for sprinklers in new schools

From The Independent:  The Tory Government has reportedly dropped plans to ease fire safety standards in new schools after the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed at least 79 people.

[Read full article on the Independent website…]