Yet another “free school” scandal

“University technical colleges – part of the free schools changes pushed through by Michael Gove – have been described as ineffective and unpopular by a report that found more than half their students dropped out.

Of those who remained at UTCs, many made poor progress, with even previously high-achieving students performing less well in their exams, according to the Education Policy Institute.

About 60 UTCs have opened since 2011, after being championed by the Conservative Lord Baker and the then prime minister, David Cameron, enrolling students aged 14 to 18 and designed to encourage the study of science, technology and engineering.

But despite official encouragement and lavish funding, they have failed to generate enthusiasm among parents, and 10 have subsequently closed or converted into conventional schools.

David Laws, the EPI’s executive chairman, said after spending “hundreds of millions of pounds” on UTCs, the Department for Education (DfE) should halt any further expansion until their effectiveness has been reviewed.

Baker, a former education secretary who chairs the Baker Dearing Trust, which promotes UTCs, accused EPI researchers of ignoring evidence.

“EPI start with their conclusion that a 14-18 institution cannot fit into an 11-18 system and then use statistics to support that,” he said.

“It is a pity that they did not take up Baker Dearing’s offer to visit several of our 50 UTCs and speak to teachers, students and parents.”

The EPI found many UTCs struggled to recruit students, and failed to retain the majority of those who did enrol. More than half of all UTC students left between the ages of 16 and 17 after taking GCSEs, while more continued to quit before finishing key stage five at the age of 18.

One in five UTCs were rated as inadequate by Ofsted inspectors, the EPI found, while a further 40% were rated as requiring improvement – well above the national average for mainstream schools in England.

Julian Gravatt, the deputy chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said the report showed UTCs “are an experiment that hasn’t worked”.

“Given the high level of support given to them by the DfE and the capital funding allocated by the Treasury, this is obviously depressing,” he said.

The analysis also found UTC students’ GCSE results were almost a grade lower than their peers at secondary schools. “Significantly, this poor progress is particularly acute for high attainers, who make over a grade’s less progress than high attainers in all state-funded schools,” the EPI noted.

The National Education Union said the report backed up its research, which found Black Country university technical college in Walsall cost more than £11m between its opening in 2011 and closure in 2015, with 158 students enrolled out of a planned 480.

Another UTC in Burnley cost £10m but closed three years after opening in 2013, with 113 students enrolled despite plans for 800.

The EPI did note several benefits from UTCs, including that they offer a wider range of technical subjects such as computer science than other schools.

The report concluded that existing UTCs should be repurposed as 16-18 colleges offering post-GCSE technical qualifications, such as the government’s promised T-levels.

But Gravatt said such a change needed careful consideration. “The 16-to-18 sector of education is already a chaotic and underfunded market,” he said.

A DfE spokesperson said UTCs were an important part of England’s diverse education system.

“Our most recent data shows that when young people leave a UTC, they are headed in the right direction – with twice as many key stage four students beginning an apprenticeship compared to the national average,” they said.”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/11/university-technical-colleges-schools-report-education-policy-institute

Statistics, damned statistics and Department of Education statistics …

“The education department’s three latest cases of statistics misuse

In his letter to Damian Hinds, the education secretary, Sir David Norgrove, the UK Statistics Authority chairman, cites three recent examples of the education department putting out false or misleading figures.

Here is the first.

Last week, the minister of state for school standards [Nick Gibb] wrote that, in an international survey of reading abilities of nine-year-olds, England “leapfrogged up the rankings last year, after decades of falling standards, going from 19th out of 50 countries to 8th.”This is not correct. Figures published last year show the increase was from 10th place in 2011 to 8th place in 2016.

Here is the second.

My attention has also been drawn to a recent tweet and blog issued by the department regarding education funding. As the authority’s director general for regulation has noted in a letter to the department today, figures were presented in such a way as to misrepresent changes in school funding. In the tweet, school spending figures were exaggerated by using a truncated axis, and by not adjusting for per pupil spend. In the blog about government funding of schools (which I note your department has now updated), an international comparison of spend which included a wide range of education expenditure unrelated to publicly funded schools was used, rather than a comparison of school spending alone. The result was to give a more favourable picture. Yet the context would clearly lead readers to expect that the figures referred to spending on schools.

And here is the third.

The shadow secretary of state for education [Angela Rayner] has written to express concerns about your use of a figure that appears to show a substantial increase in the number of children in high performing schools, as judged by OFSTED. While accurate as far as it goes, this figure does not give a full picture. It should be set in the context of increasing pupil numbers, changes to the inspection framework and some inspections that are now long in the past, as an earlier letter to the department from the Office of Statistics Regulation pointed out.

In his letter Norgrove says these cases follow four other instances in the last year when the authority wrote to the department with concerns about its presentation of data. “I regret that the department does not yet appear to have resolved issues with its use of statistics,” Norgrove says.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2018/oct/08/labour-and-tory-mayors-unite-to-demand-they-take-back-control-of-regional-spending-after-brexit-politics-live

“Government accused of covering up schools cuts with misleading figures”

“The government has been accused of attempting to cover up school budget cuts in England, after the UK’s statistics watchdog said it would investigate ministers’ use of spending figures that included private school fees to fend off criticism.

The UK Statistics Authority said it had received complaints about a recent claim, made by the Department for Education and the schools standards minister, Nick Gibb, that the UK’s spending on education was the third highest in the world.

But the claim, based on OECD figures, was revealed by the BBC to include university student tuition loans as well as the fees paid by private school pupils, which fall outside the DfE’s budget.

The department also faces scrutiny over its continued use of a claim that there are 1.9 million more children in schools rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding than at the time of the 2010 election.

“The UK Statistics Authority and the Office for Statistics Regulation are investigating the concerns raised, and will publish their findings shortly,” a spokesperson for the regulator said.

Last Friday saw a protest by more than 2,000 headteachers over school funding cuts in England. In response, the DfE defended its record, and included the statement: “The OECD has recently confirmed that the UK is the third highest spender on education in the world, spending more per pupil than countries including Germany, Australia and Japan.”

Gibb later repeated the same claim during an interview on the BBC, and the DfE published the statement in a blog on its website.

But the OECD data was comparing education spending as a percentage of national output, and included government spending in England and elsewhere along with university tuition loans for students as well as fees paid by pupils at private schools.

The OECD figures also include government spending on education in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which in most cases is devolved to national assemblies in those countries and is not counted within the DfE’s budget.

Jules White, the headteacher of a secondary school in West Sussex who helped organise last Friday’s protest, said the DfE was attempting to cover up the “savage cuts that have been made to school budgets” .

“At every stage, the government and Department for Education has refused to acknowledge an overwhelming independent body of evidence which clearly confirms that the cuts have gone too far,” White said.

“Ministers have now been caught out and we appeal to them to stop the pattern of using dreadfully misleading information which is unfair to educational professionals and most crucially to parents and pupils.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has estimated that funding per pupil in England fell by 8% between 2010 and 2018, with 66,000 more children in state schools this year than the year before but with 5,000 fewer teachers. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/04/government-accused-of-covering-up-schools-cuts-with-misleading-figures

6th richest country in the world: “Nearly 1 In 10 School Staff Are Bringing In Food, Tampons And Pens For Children In Need”

“Stories about teachers paying out of their own pocket for student’s food and teaching materials, are nothing new, but a study has now shown the extent of the practice in UK schools in 2018.

More than 50 per cent of classroom-based support staff have revealed they are spending their own money on items for children at school, ranging from tampons and toilet paper to pens, pencils, books, and toys for break time.

And nearly one in 10 said they were forced to bring in food from home to feed hungry children: many reported seeing pupils attending school without having eaten breakfast, or without any money for food at break times. …”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/nearly-1-in-10-school-staff-are-bringing-in-food-tampons-and-pens-for-children-in-need_uk_5bb499cce4b028e1fe393bd4?guccounter=1

Swire believes teachers are brainwashing our children but supports fruitcake who has even weirder views on education!

Has Swire gone the way of Trump? It seems the only credible explanation for this:

A few of Young’s beliefs:

“Toby Young was fired by Tories, who appointed him a few days earlier, from his post as head of the “Office for Students” over homophobic remarks and for proposing that when the technology for genetically engineered intelligence is practical it should be allowable for a decision to be made by poor parents with low IQs [note – not rich parents with poor IQs] over which embryos should be allowed to develop using intelligence as a marker. “It could help to address the problem of flat-lining inter-generational social mobility”, he wrote.

In 2012 Young wrote an article in The Spectator criticising the emphasis on “inclusion” in state schools, saying that the word “inclusive” was “one of those ghastly, politically correct words that have survived the demise of New Labour. Schools have got to be ‘inclusive’ these days. That means wheelchair ramps, the complete works of Alice Walker in the school library…”

Young has come under criticism for comments he made on Twitter, most of which were deleted upon his appointment to the Board of the Office for Students. Young claimed to have posted more than 56,000 tweets, of which 8,439 remain.

These included what a London Evening Standard editorial called “an obsession with commenting on the anatomy of women in the public eye”. He referred on Twitter to the cleavage of unnamed female MPs sitting behind Ed Miliband in the Commons in 2011 and 2012. When later challenged by Stella Creasy on Newsnight he said of the second such incident: “It wasn’t my proudest moment”. Other remarks included homophobic slurs, including a claim that George Clooney is “as queer as a coot”.

One tweet by Young was in response to a BBC Comic Relief appeal in 2009 for starving Kenyan children.[75] During the broadcast, a Twitter user commented that she had “gone through about 5 boxes of kleenex” whilst watching. Toby Young replied: “Me too, I havn’t [sic] wanked so much in ages”.[6] He has expressed remorse for his “politically incorrect” tweets.[76]

Young is believed to have edited his own Wikipedia page 282 times in the last ten years.

Prior to getting married, Young employed a Russian ‘daily’ whom he later described as ‘a kind of surrogate mother’. Young has since complained about the difficulty of finding reliable domestic staff.

Young has admitted using illegal drugs – specifically taking cocaine at the Groucho Club in central London,[84] and also supplying drugs to others. He was subsequently expelled from membership of the Club in late 2001 for writing about the cocaine use of his friends whom he had supplied with the drug during a photo shoot for Vanity Fair.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toby_Young

“Birmingham pupils sent home early to save school money”

“A head teacher has cut the number of hours children spend at school to save money.

Neil Porter said he would save £18,500 by cutting an hour and 20 minutes every Friday at Birmingham’s St Peter and St Paul RC Junior and Infant School.

The pupils’ early finish means teachers can plan their lessons and there is no need to pay supply staff to supervise children.

But parents have said they have had to change their working hours.
The day finishes at 15:20 BST Monday to Thursday at the Erdington school.

But on a Friday after lunch, the 210 pupils now go into a whole-school assembly with the head at 13:00. They are then picked up by parents at 14:00. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-45665080

Devon head teachers in London protesting funding cuts

“Head teachers from schools in Devon and Cornwall will join about 1,000 colleagues from around the country in London today, to demand extra funding for schools.

They will meet in Parliament Square before delivering a letter to No 11 Downing Street, amid concerns over work conditions and overcrowded classrooms.

The heads quote the Institute of Fiscal Studies’ claim that per pupil funding has fallen 8% in real terms since 2010. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-45563759