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In the News

Affluent pupils less likely to go to university if they do National Citizen Service

Poorer pupils are more likely to go to university if they do the government’s flagship National Citizen Service (NCS), a new report has found. But pupils from more affluent backgrounds are less likely to go to university if they do the four-week holiday course, with a 10 percentage point drop in girls and 6 percentage point drop in boys. The increase among poorer pupils is greatest amongst girls, from 15 per cent going to university when they had not done NCS to a quarter going when they had. Overall, entry to university rose 12 per cent with participation in NCS. The NCS Trust, which has come under fire from the Public Accounts Committee for failing to demonstrate “clear evaluation” of its benefits, said data from 2015 showed the programme had a positive impact on the aspirations of the 15 to 17-year-olds who had taken part. The fact that fewer affluent pupils went to university after doing NCS might be because they had joined to boost weak university applications, said the report. Pupils from less affluent backgrounds who took part “are more likely to be highly motivated” Equally, pupils from less affluent backgrounds who took part “are more likely to be...

First medical needs-only MAT to open

Two hospital schools will join forces to become the first medical-needs-only multi-academy trust, after turning down offers from mainstream MATs which had threatened to “swallow” their funds. Northamptonshire Hospital and Outreach Education, a local authority-run hospital school, will sponsor Oxfordshire Hospital School and open as a MAT in September or October. The schools decided not to join mainstream MATs after other hospital schools saw their funding siphoned off into central services such as HR and administration, according to Cath Kitchen (pictured), the headteacher of Northamptonshire Hospital and Outreach Education. “They would be positive meetings initially, but then the bare bones would be ‘what would you bring to us financially?’” she told Schools Week. Some large MATs also “just wanted us to be their SEND department”, she said, a situation that would “dilute” the specialist provision on offer. Hospital schools cater for pupils who cannot attend mainstream schooling due to medical reasons, including mental illness, eating disorders and long-term chronic diseases. About 90 per cent of pupils at Northamptonshire Hospital and Outreach Education have complex mental health needs, including suicidal ideation, depression, psychosis or social difficulties. Hospital education can be funded either by amount per place, or as a centrally funded...

Conservatives promise new routes to becoming a teacher

Schools could get additional funding to train their teaching assistants up to degree level using a new apprenticeship route announced in the Conservative manifesto. The party has pledged to ensure TAs are able to “become qualified teachers via a degree apprenticeship route”, a move which would give schools access to funding from the apprenticeship levy to train them up to level six, which is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. At present, the highest level a TA can reach through an apprenticeship is level three, equivalent to A-level, though training providers envisage a new route which would allow them to become an “advanced learning support practitioner” or similar. However, there is confusion over whether those who complete the new route, but who do not already have a university degree, will be allowed to progress onto a new, separate higher-level teaching apprenticeship with qualified teacher status that’s still being planned by ministers and school leaders. It’s about bridging that gap, so TAs don’t get stuck at level three According to National Schools Training, an apprenticeship provider for schools in England which is involved in developing the new teaching standard, training providers are looking for ways to “bridge the gap” between TAs and...

Investigation: DfE ‘hid’ damaging Lord Nash academy cost emails

The Department for Education has attempted to hide internal emails showing Lord Nash’s intention to massage the presentation of figures that reveal the spiralling costs of rebrokering academies. The investigation reveals potentially damaging revelations about the academies minister – a well-known Conservative party donor – that the government tried to “suppress”, just weeks before the general election. In recent years the number of schools transferring from one academy trust to another has rocketed – from 26 in 2014, to 134 last year. On previous figures, available to the end of 2014, the average cost to the taxpayer of a transfer was £131,000 per school, which takes the annual total to an estimated £17 million. But Schools Week was refused figures on the costs of transferring academies in the past year, as the department claimed it planned to publish them in the future. We asked under Freedom of Information laws for any documents proving there was a genuine intention to publish the costs. At first, the department provided a document that said the minister was “asked to consider whether to proactively publish information on the cost of rebrokering academies”. After pushback, the department sent two further emails from last year that...