Education insights: T levels investment, Paralympic support, policy proposals to end educational inequality and more

As August draws to a close, we explore a new manifesto from Teach First, the ‘underperformance’ of boys in their GCSEs and A levels, and teachers' concerns over the lack of sustainability teaching in schools.

£50 million to deliver world-class facilities for T Level students

£50 million will be invested in colleges, schools and sixth forms delivering T levels across England from 2022 to improve and expand teaching spaces and facilities. The funding will ensure students have world-class facilities when studying for T Levels, helping to transform the provision of technical education to help fill local skills gaps and level up opportunities across the country. Sixty-five building projects will receive a share of the funding, providing thousands of students with industry quality equipment for hands-on experience right from the start of their training, and high-tech classrooms. T Levels - co-created with over 250 employers including Fujitsu and Amazon – are equivalent to three A levels and uniquely combine classroom study with industry placements, so students gain the skills businesses need allowing them to go straight into the workplace, onto an apprenticeship or further study. Notably, new subjects including Health, Science and Onsite Construction will be added from September. Here at Hopscotch, we love seeing more investment being brought in to support the delivery of T levels and to encourage students to explore all of their post-16 education options.

Call for answers on boys’ ‘underperformance’ in GCSEs and A levels

The government is being urged to launch a major inquiry to understand the reasons why boys underperform at school compared with girls. Mary Curnock Cook, the former head of Ucas, called for an “explanation” to eliminate the possibility of “systemic bias against boys”. In the Independent, writer Maya Oppenheim investigates ‘Why ‘societal norms’ are behind girls’ historic lead over boys in GCSE results. She discussed how men dominate all areas of public life, with women underrepresented in senior roles in politics, the NHS, the charitable sector, sport bodies and more. But these gender inequalities do not surface immediately, as the recent news girls have increased their lead over boys in top GCSE results demonstrates. Ms Green, a principal and Teach First ambassador, said while she was talking in general terms, girls at secondary school are socialised to be self-disciplined and study when home, while boys are more likely to go home and play video games. She said that “research suggests girls do more homework. The difference is boys catch up at university and overtake women in the workplace. The gender pay gap and wider inequalities then materialise across all sectors”. It will be interesting to see whether the government responds and how they address the gender inequality that is evident both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Funding, laptops and diversity at heart of Build Back Better manifesto

Teach First has put forward 11 policy proposals to end educational inequality and ensure “every child has the chance to reach their full potential”. The policy proposals include significant increases to Pupil Premium, provision of laptops and routers, more curriculum diversity, and a focus on careers guidance. Entitled A fighting chance for every child, the manifesto points out how in the last decade spending per-pupil has fallen fastest among schools serving the most disadvantaged communities. The manifesto wants to see a framework for effective careers learning at primary school, based on the Gatsby benchmarks, alongside a new fund to train and support primary teachers in disadvantaged areas to implement the framework. At the same time, there should be a fund to train a careers leader in every secondary school at mid to senior level by 2023. It’s great to see a focus being put on increasing support and funding for schools in disadvantaged areas. At Hopscotch we are especially glad to see calls for large employers to offer more remote and ‘blended’ work experience opportunities and entry-level jobs, targeting outreach at disadvantaged schools.

Report: Education system falls short on sustainability

A new report by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has revealed that two-thirds of staff in the further education sector feel the system does not adequately educate learners on sustainability issues. According to the new research, 68% of the workforce hold that position, while over 70% feel there needs to be either more or a lot more teaching in the post-16 UK education system about a range of subjects that relate to education for sustainable development. The majority of respondents (85%) agree that the FE and Training sector has a valuable role to play in the achievement of sustainability goals. Nearly all respondents (94%) believe that all UK learners should be taught about sustainability issues. The ETF says it believes that the sector has a critical role to play in combating climate change and achieving sustainability and social justice both nationally and globally. With both staff and students wanting climate change and sustainability to be included in the curriculum, it will be interesting to see the governments response to this increasing pressure.

Share Your Pride programme from Team GB and ParalympicsGB

Team GB and ParalympicsGB are encouraging our nation’s schools to get behind our competitors this summer with the launch of Share Your Pride, an inclusive and engaging programme created to inspire young people aged 5-16. Share Your Pride, accessible online for the whole of the summer, is part of Get Set. Get Set, has been running since London 2012, helping teachers inspire pupils to fulfil their full potential and live healthy, active lifestyles. The resources are completely free for teachers with a flexible range of curriculum-linked resources including PE, PSHE, English, history and much more. Using the Olympic and Paralympic values to encourage behaviours like friendship, respect, equality, and courage. It’s great to see schools being given resources to support young people in getting behind the Paralympics after the success of the Olympics earlier this month.


About the author

Lizzie Ferris

Lizzie has a first-class BA Honours in English Language from Sheffield Hallam University. She has spent over 6 years volunteering and working with young people and is passionate about making a positive impact in young people’s lives.

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