Education insights: Free broadband, virtual libraries and the new FE White Paper is published

This week’s news in education has highlighted a few positive plans for 2021. From the proposed reforms in the Skills for Jobs White Paper to free book access for children, we’re bringing you the latest news and highlights of the week.

FE 'Skills for Jobs' White Paper sets out ‘ambitious’ reforms

The long-awaited ‘Skills for Jobs White Paper’ was released on Thursday, 21st of January, and includes a raft of measures to “realign” the post-16 system around the needs of employers. While the Department for Education (DfE) has claimed the plans are “revolutionary”, what do sector leaders think? Many say that it “falls a bit short” of their “revolutionary” ambition as it mostly builds on existing aspects of the sector. Excitingly, many agree the paper further bolsters the government’s commitment to technical education so more people can obtain the skills they need to find employment.

Free fast broadband offered in UK to support home schooling

We know that so many families have been struggling with remote learning due to poor or no internet connections at home. Hyperoptic have generously offered struggling families in certain areas a high-speed connection with no charges until the end of the summer term. Liam McAvoy, senior director of business development at Hyperoptic, said: “Every child deserves to be able to virtually learn and harness the opportunities that are enabled by connectivity” and we couldn’t agree more.

Virtual library gives children in England free book access

Internet classroom Oak National Academy has created a virtual library after schools moved to remote learning for the majority of pupils until February half-term. Formed with The National Literacy Trust, the library will provide a book a week from its author of the week. In the last two weeks, over four million children have accessed its resources! We’re excited all English children will have access to free books, particularly the most disadvantaged.

DfE pledges to end 'illusion' that University degree is only route to success

In light of the Skills for Jobs White Paper being published this week, DfE say they want to, put an end to the illusion that degrees are the only route to success and that technical qualifications are a second-class option. It’s encouraging to see the government keen to transcend the stigma surrounding alternative options and enhance awareness of them. DfE add that given the conditions of the pandemic, the white paper review should not yet be concluded.

Gavin Williamson says he hopes schools in England reopen before Easter

The education secretary has said that he hopes for schools to reopen before Easter and has promised that parents, teachers and pupils will be given two weeks’ notice before reopening. He assures us that any decision to reopen will be based on the best health and scientific advice. The children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, comments that schools need to have all the measures in place to make sure it is safe to reopen when risks to children and adults are much lower. We hope that the government offers schools the support they need to implement the measures in place to safely and efficiently reopen to children.

About the author

Craig Ritchie

Craig has a passion for empowering young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and delivering campaigns with a social impact. He has a background in client-servicing and holds specialist knowledge of the STEM and Careers pathways. At Hopscotch, Craig works across Health Education England, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and DP World.

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