ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

for Christians working in education

The week
News items from the week’s daily and education press, covering the major education news stories of the week.

Christians in Education - Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire event Saturday 29th September.

Christians in Education
Hull & East Riding of Yorkshire

A M O R N I N G O F E N C O U R A G E M E N T , S U P P O R T A N D P R A Y E R F O R
C H R I S T I A N T E A C H E R S , H E A D T E A C H E R S , G O V E R N O R S , P A R E N T S

With input from John Denning, Education Officer with the Christian Institute.
9.30am - 1pm
Saturday 29th September 2018
St. Mark’s Church, Anlaby Common, Hull
Free Entry

Over £100,000 spent for Oxford to recruit one

Oxford University spends more than £100,000 for each additional student from a poor background it admits every year, according to a new analysis of its efforts to improve access.

Figures published in Prospect show that Oxford’s “cost of acquisition” for every extra student from a low-income area admitted since 2009 is £108,000. The data is based on Oxford’s record of admitting about 10 extra students from low-income postcodes each year between 2009 and 2016, spending at least £14m a year on access and widening participation as required by higher education regulators.

About 5,000 school-leavers in the two most disadvantaged postcode categories attain A-level grades that would qualify them for Oxbridge, but Oxford admitted only 220 such students in 2015-16.

Record number of degree places taken up through clearing.

A record number of students have taken up places on degrees through clearing this year, official figures show, as universities were left scrambling to fill vacancies on courses.  

One month after A-level results day, 60,100 people have found places at British universities using the process, according to figures released by Ucas university admissions service.


The number of students placed in a UK university after applying directly through clearing, rather than through the main scheme, rose by 6 per cent, from 13,640 last year to a record 14,410.

Read more.

Could means-tested fees help poorer students get into university?

In most countries, there is a chasm between the proportion of richer people who make it to higher education and the proportion of poorer people who do so. Introducing means-tested fees could be a way to address this.

Means-tested fees offer a “third way” between systems with no fees but tightly-controlled student numbers (like Scotland) and systems with fees that are so high they could be squeezing out good students (as in England).

We know poorer families tend to be more debt-averse, and that graduates from poorer families typically earn less than those from richer families. Means-testing is also cost-effective to governments because it focuses help on those least likely to repay all their student debt.

This is why the policy is spreading like wildfire across five continents, in Canada, Chile, Italy, Japan and South Africa. On closer inspection, it’s clear that each country stumbled across it independently.

Read more.

DfE scheme to rate textbooks.

Educational publishers are concerned that the Department for Education wants to introduce a quality-assurance scheme for textbooks and other curriculum resources, which they say would be “devastating”.

The DfE has been talking to publishers about “how best to inform teachers about what high-quality resources are available”.

And research commissioned by the DfE on the “use and perceptions of curriculum support resources in schools” has suggested: "The introduction of a national quality mark for resources would provide some confidence to teachers and schools more broadly so that resourcing (and therefore budgeting) decisions being made were informed by an additional layer of quality assurance.”

Fears have also been raised by a report in the Bookseller magazine, which said that the DfE was thought to favour educational resources being put before an assessment panel, which would rate them as gold, silver or bronze, in a scheme supported in some way by the £7.7 million curriculum fund.

One anonymous publisher said: “It creates a scenario where [the DfE-appointed panel] can pick one or two bodies of content and say ‘Those are the ones schools will buy’.

"It massively distorts the market and makes it impossible for the current wide range of content to be out there. It will be devastating – though if you are one of the few winners, you do nicely.”

Read more.

School Funding Levels.

The Department for Education's repeated assertion that school funding is at record levels "doesn't really help anyone", an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) expert has said.

The respected thinktank published research earlier this week confirming that total school spending per pupil fell by 8 per cent in real terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18.

Headteachers and governors have warned that the financial squeeze has led to staff cuts, bigger classes and a narrowing of the curriculum.

However, when asked about funding pressures, the DfE routinely says that overall school funding is at record levels, most recently saying that “by 2020, school funding will rise to a record £43.5 billion”.

When asked by Tes whether the repeated DfE mantra about “record funding” was helpful or disingenuous, Luke Sibieta, a research fellow at the IFS, said: “Just saying it’s at record levels doesn’t really help anyone. It’s important to see the full historical context and the challenges facing schools at the moment.”

School funding claim 'hopelessly misleading'

And David Laws, a former schools minister who now chairs the Education Policy Institute thinktank, said: “Like any government statistic, it’s accurate but hopelessly misleading.”

The DfE declined to comment on criticism of its line that it is putting more money into schools than ever before, and instead referred to an earlier DfE statement which said: “We are putting more money into our schools than ever before."

Read more.

Further Education Colleges in funding crisis.

Amid rising concern about the numbers of further education colleges needing emergency government bailouts, new analysis shows how far their budgets have been squeezed.

The money allocated for 16 to 18-year-old college students has dropped 8% since 2010, says a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Last year £57m of emergency funding was provided to help colleges in England. 

Ministers say they will protect further education until 2019-20 in cash terms.

Luke Sibieta, co-author of the report, said further education colleges had been left doubly exposed by the drop in 16-to-18 funding coinciding with a huge fall in over-19s taking courses - and a consequent reduction in income from the government.

Read more.

Universities warned about advertising.

Universities have been warned against making "potentially misleading claims" in their advertising.

The Which? consumer group says some universities are claiming high status without any "verifiable" evidence.

The Advertising Standards Authority last year told universities they must take down unsubstantiated claims, such as being in the top 1% in the world.

But Alex Hayman of Which? University said some institutions were still "falling short" in their adverts.

With universities beginning another round of recruitment for next year, the consumer group has highlighted concerns about the quality of information for students considering their applications.

Read more.

Institute for Fiscal Studies report on funding.

Funding for students in school sixth forms and colleges in England has been severely squeezed over the last eight years, a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has found.

Courses have been closed, student support has been cut, and teaching provision has reduced as a result of the real-terms cuts to further education, education unions have warned.

Analysis from IFS has revealed that funding per student in sixth forms has fallen by more than a fifth (21 per cent) per student since 2010-11 – and it remains lower than at any point since 2002-03.

The Sutton Trust report on how parents behave to get children into their chosen school.

In 2013 the Sutton Trust published Parent Power?a landmark piece of work authored by Prof Becky Francis and Prof Merryn Hutchings demonstrating how social class influences parents’ ability to support their children in their schooling. Five years later Parent Power 2018 revisits the cultural and financial resources parents use to boost their children’s chances of educational success.




  • When choosing what school to send their child to, parents with higher socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to attend open days, read Ofsted reports, speak to parents at the school, read league tables and consult local authority or other education websites.
  • Parents in lower socioeconomic groups were more likely to indicate that the cost of travel, and potential extra financial costs such as uniforms, played a significant role in their decision making. Over half of working class parents (56%), compared to 34% of professional parents.
  • Just one in five parents (20%) reported that they were familiar with Progress 8, the Department for Education’s new headline measure for school league tables.
  • Parents in higher socioeconomic groups were much more likely to report a variety of strategies to gain access to their preferred school, such as moving to an area with good schools or to a specific catchment, along with employing private tutors for entrance tests.
  • Almost 1 in 3 (30%) of parents from higher socioeconomic backgrounds personally knew a parent who used ethically dubious strategies, such as buying or renting a second home in a catchment area, or using a relative’s address to gain access to a particular school.
  • Parents from higher socioeconomic backgrounds were five times more likely to report that their children had received private tuition. 31% of professional parents, compared to 6% of working class parents.
  • Two in five (39%) of school leaders say that extra financial contributions requested by their school have increased in the last two years. This is reflected in the views of parents, with half of parents (49%) say their school has asked them for an extra financial contribution in the last twelve months. Schools across the socioeconomic spectrum are facing substantial budgetary challenges, but those with more affluent parents are able to draw on those financial resources as a buffer, with higher class parents more likely to report they had been asked for contributions.
  • Young people from professional households were more likely to take part in extracurricular activities. This reflects cultural capital, but also financial resources in the home, as those in lower social groups were more likely to take part in activities that didn’t need to be paid for, 25% of working class parents, compared to 20% of professional parents.


Read the full report.


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