Education insights: increased funding for mental health support, England’s new grading system, and the Queen announces flexible loans

This #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek our Education Insights blog explores increased mental health funding in schools and colleges, the impact of the new grading system in England, the Queen’s speech, and more.

Schools and colleges to benefit from boost in expert mental health support

We are pleased to hear the DfE announced more than £17 million to improve mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges. This new funding will train thousands of senior mental health leads, for school and college staff and will provide helpful resources. This builds on the Government's commitment to making mental health and wellbeing a key part of education recovery work. Nadine Dorries, the Minister for Mental Health said, “It is essential that children and young people can access the support they need and this extra funding further cements our commitment to their wellbeing, equipping them with the tools to look after their mental health”.

Covid 'puts pupils an extra month behind in maths'

A new study by The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) suggests the attainment gap between poorer school pupils and their classmates has grown in Maths specifically since the first lockdown. Their research found that the gap did not decrease after schools reopened in September. Sir Peter Lampl, EEF chairman, is now calling for the DfE to urgently mitigate the long-term impact of school closures. Professor Becky Francis, the chief executive of the EEF, said: “The pandemic has brought the significance of social and educational inequality into sharp focus”. We anticipate how this systemic issue will be addressed in the education landscape.

Queen's Speech: A focus on higher education and skills ‘revolution’

The Queen’s Speech discussed a skills ‘revolution’ for adults, including flexible loans for further and higher education which will be “useable at any point in their lives”. This will be used to provide the equivalent of up to four years’ study and can be used for full-time or part-time courses. Through our work on LifeSkills created with Barclays we have seen first-hand the growing demand for skills development. The programme provides access to free learning resources to distribute knowledge and upskill for the world of work.

‘We’re all marking late at night’: teachers on England’s new grading system

Exams for GCSE and A-level students have been scrapped in England this summer and replaced with a teacher-assessed grading system. Teachers are being forced to work extra hours as they devote their time to being ‘unpaid examiners’ and determining grades. Teacher unions and staff have expressed concerns over workload and a lack of time to support pupils catching up on learning after months away from the classroom. Concerns are also rising over grade inflation, teachers are working to assess, mark and moderate their pupils’ results, but across the country a variety of assessment methods are being used. We look forward to seeing how exam boards will act to support educators in this challenging time.

GCSE and A-level papers being sold on social media for £1

This year, following the cancellation of exams, students' grades will be assessed by teachers and can be partly based on performance in past papers, provided by exam boards. On social media websites such as TikTok, students appear to be trading or offering to buy past papers in the hope of familiarising themselves with content that may appear in their mock exams in school. A spokesperson for the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents UK exam boards, said "We would strongly encourage students to use only publicly available materials via our websites in addition to those provided by their exam centre. Nonetheless, exam boards regard the sale or exchange of any of our assessment materials as unacceptable and take action to stop this wherever possible”.



About the author

Azza Abdulla

Azza has a background in digital marketing and has experience working across the charity and Higher Education sectors. She is passionate about inclusive learning and breaking down barriers to education. At Hopscotch, she works on LifeSkills created with Barclays, Shell's STEM competition and more.

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