Education Insights: Period poverty, no more novels, and the verdict on brand purpose work

It might still be the summer holidays, but changes within the education landscape continue to come thick and fast. This week we’ve looked at period poverty, the loss of the novel in English GCSE, and young people’s perspective on brand purpose work in our Education Insights.

Many schools not aware they can order free tampons for students

There is little in society that Covid-19 has not affected, including periods: research shows that three in 10 young people in the UK have experienced issues either affording or accessing period products during the pandemic[1]. Back in 2019 we worked with the Department for Education on its free period products scheme, which has operated throughout school closures. However, it is apparent that many schools might not know this fantastic scheme exists, as just 40% have placed orders since it launched. To ensure no young person misses out on vital school time because of their period, this scheme needs as much promotion as possible.

Northern Ireland curriculum council makes novels non-compulsory

For so long, the novel has been the bastion of English GCSEs. Many of us will remember long hours spent studying Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm or An Inspector Calls (and some may recall these memories more fondly than others). However, the knock-on effects of recent school closures on the 2020/21 academic year have resulted in a cull in the number of exams, and a reduction in what students have to study. One casualty of these measures is the seemingly steadfast novel: students will only have to study poetry, drama and Shakespeare in English literature GCSE. Jesting aside, this signifies another sad shift towards reduced learning because of the pandemic. 

BTec students receive their grades following exam fiasco

In the latest instalment of the exam results saga, BTec students have finally received their grades this week. The anxious wait for these students may be over, but many young people have been left feeling angry at the way they’ve been treated in this debacle. Whilst a Pearson spokesperson stated that “No grades will go down as part of this review”, the atmosphere of confusion over students’ next steps is yet to dissipate. It’s clear that a better, clearer strategy will need to be devised to avoid a repeat for 2021’s student cohort.

New research from Education Policy Institute reveals GCSE subjects with biggest attainment gap

In a new study completed by the EPI, the subjects in which disadvantaged students are furthest behind their wealthier peers are music and PE. On average, poorer students were 20.1 months behind their wealthier peers at GCSE music, and disadvantaged students were 38% less likely to take the subject. In PE, the gap was 17.7 months, with poorer students being 47% less likely to take the subject than more advantaged students. These figures are stark, and clearly demonstrate the need for additional support in these areas for less wealthy students.

The young person perspective on the intersection between brands and social purpose

Research for a new report called ‘Generation Cynic?’ has revealed some fascinating insights surrounding UK young adults’ perceptions of brand ‘purpose’ work. In a year in which many brands have grappled explicitly with social issues in their marketing, 71% said that supporting such causes is the right things for brands to do. The survey also revealed the popularity of influencers, with 66% of respondents more likely to support a caused backed by an influencer they follow. In many ways these findings reinforce the power of brands taking on education initiatives, as it’s clear that young people believe such work is important and effective.


[1] Research completed by Plan International (2020)

About the author

Eleanor Johnston

Before joining Hopscotch, Eleanor taught English in Germany, worked as a Widening Participation ambassador at Bristol University and interned at the Young Westminster Foundation. Since securing a first class honours degree in History, Eleanor has enjoyed bringing her passion for education to projects including Bupa and LifeSkills created with Barclays.

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