THE WEEK IN HEADLINES – APPRENTICESHIPS, PROGRESS 8 AND LONDON SUCCESS.

Hello Readers

The summer is nearly over, and the Linking London office is gearing up for a brand new term of staff development events. Yet though term is yet to begin, the news never sleeps, and so we once more have collated a summary of the week’s educational news for your reading pleasure.

Apprenticeships

Once again apprenticeships are making headlines: FE Week reported that 16-18 apprentices have had their funding cut by roughly 30%, with learners in more deprived areas of London seeing cuts of up to 50%.This revelation led former HE minister, David Lammy, to criticise the Prime Minister (again in FE Week), describing the cuts as “devastating for young people in deprived areas”.

Linking London has also noticed a decrease in sponsored degree programmes, with providers reclassifying their ‘work and learn’ qualifications as apprenticeships to avoid the new levy.  If the government’s apprenticeship target is only met by reclassifying existing programmes and cutting funds to others then surely the achievement will be undermined by the cost?

Progress 8

GCSEs have featured heavily in the press over the last week, partly due to results day, but also because of the new GCSE grading system, Progress 8, since the first qualifications under the new scheme are due to be awarded next year.  The Telegraph dedicated a feature to the new grading system, explaining the relationship between the previous A-C  grades and the new numerical ones:

“It is thought that roughly the same number of students will achieve a grade 4 and above as currently achieve a grade C and above, while the top 20 per cent of those who get a grade 7 and above, will get a grade 9. Grade 5 – equivalent to a low B or high C – will be the new benchmark for a “good pass” required by league tables, where currently the required grade is C.”

When mapping 2017 entry criteria Linking London has noticed some institutions equating 4 as the C ‘baseline’ equivalent, and others cite 5 as the criteria. When unis compare A-C grades with 1-9 ones who will the comparison benefit? Will it be easier or harder to achieve the grade necessary to progress to FE, and thus HE? Only time will tell. If you want to know more about Progress 8, TES have created a guide to the new qualification.

Capital

London is officially the most educated city in Europe, according to the BBC. In terms of graduate numbers “It is above anywhere in the European Union and unlike anywhere else in the United Kingdom”. We have always known London was an intellectual hub, but it is heartening to have our thoughts confirmed. Linking London exists to support institutions in the capital, who in turn support these vast quantities of students, gradually increasing social mobility through the power of education.

More from the team next week.

THE WEEK OF EXAM RESULTS

Hello!

This week the education press has been awash with Results Day facts, figures and theories, so we thought we would offer you a bumper blog post on all things results-day-related.

A Level Focus

A Levels have, predictably, been the focus of the results day headlines, partly this will be because BTEC learners do not have an official results day, and partly because A Levels are always the focal qualification in progression features, as they are seen as the ‘norm’.

So what were the A Level Headlines this year?

The Evening Standard Reported that the “gap between girls and boys getting the top grades at A-level has fallen to its lowest for at least 10 years” In fact more boys achieved the coveted A* grade than girls this year.

Although a record number of HE places have been offered this year, the BBC has reported that fewer students achieved the top A* and A grades than in 2015, though the overall pass rate stayed at last year’s figure of 98.1%

The Telegraph produced a useful chart which depicted the best and worst performing A Levels of the year. Pass rates for History, Economics and Politics have plummeted, while Maths and Language subjects have seen strong pass rates in 2016, despite reports that Language A Levels are declining in popularity.

What about BTEC?

Articles featuring BTEC learners have, as previously mentioned, been rather thin on the ground.  Luckily Pearson, the BTEC awarding body, is one of Linking London’s partners, and their team kindly provided us with the findings of a recently published Social Market Foundation Report ‘Passports to Progress’ which focuses on vocational qualifications

100,000 students progressing to HE now have a BTEC qualification – double the amount recorded 8 years ago.

This means 1 in 4 HE learners has a BTEC.

Between 2008-2015 the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering HE with A levels increased by 19%, compared to the 116% increase seen by BTEC learners from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Overview

To summarise A Levels have retained their pass rate but not the top grades, though the gender gap is narrowing and progression to HE is strong.

Although BTEC students have largely been absent from the news a quarter of students progressing to HE hold a BTEC qualification. More students from disadvantaged backgrounds are entering HE than ever before (the TES reports they are 81% more likely to apply than 10 years ago) and this widening participation success is largely due to the BTEC qualification. As the SMF report states: : “For young people taking A levels, prospects for progression into higher education depend heavily on where they are from. For young people taking BTECs, or a combination of BTECs and A levels, entry rates are much more even across areas”

That’s all from our Results Day special, more Linking London news next Monday.

THE WEEK IN HEADLINES

Hello Readers

Though most of the headlines over the past week have been devoted to the Olympic gold-medal-rush (congratulations Team GB), hidden amongst the column inches devoted to sporting spectacle have been some education stories which could have huge implications for our sector. This week our blog unpacks some of the biggest education stories of the past seven days.

National Student Survey

The results of HEFCE’s 2016 National Student Survey were published last week, with 86% of undergraduates in the final year of Higher Education responding that they are satisfied with their university programme. Out of Linking London’s partners, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama was within the top 20 institutions for student satisfaction, and UEL were named as having one of the largest increases in satisfaction year on year (up 5%).

Several Further Education Colleges achieved 100% student satisfaction for their HE provision. Many of Linking London’s FEC partners provide Higher Education qualifications, and we hope this success in the National Student Survey will shine a brighter light on the importance of the provision colleges offer for HE students. Our colleagues as the Association of Colleges were also thrilled, with David Corke, Director of Education Policy at the AoC, stating on the their site:

“The colleges that provide higher education work very hard to ensure they are providing a quality service to their students and the local community and it is gratifying to see that students themselves say they are pleased with the education they receive.”

Apprenticeship Levy Update

On Friday the government published guidance on how the new Apprenticeship Levy would operate. The update is available to read in full here. TES have also published a handy 9 point guide to the update and its implications for the sector. Although the report indicates the levy is still set to be introduced next April, FE Week has reported that the CBI’s director for employment and skills doubts the new system will be ready for successful delivery by the deadline.

Our NNCO website HECAIL contains a free guide to Degree and Higher Apprenticeships, while Linking London members can access the partner area of our website to find our other published resources on Apprenticeships.

A Level Results Day

As we all know, A Level results day is fast approaching this week, and many publications have featured stories telling students how to survive the day – whether their results are better or worse than expected.  The Independent’s ‘A-level results day: the 5 things students should not do’ could be useful for advisers who are trying to calm anxious students, and the Guardian has a feature dedicated to Clearing success stories which some may find helpful. For readers seeking a summary of UCAS Clearing and UCAS Extra, we have a guide available in the ‘After Application’ section of our NNCO website.

That’s all our headlines for this week, more news from us to come next Monday.

THE WEEK OF SPORTS & EDUCATION

Hello!

Unless you were hiding under a rock this weekend (or holed-up the Lake District as I was) you will have noticed that the Olympics have started. We awoke this morning to news of a first gold medal for team GB (well done Peaty!), and the BBC coverage is eagerly reminding viewers that they too can participate in the sports they are witnessing on screen.

Since the sporting world is dominating the media headlines worldwide, our blog post this week also has a sporting focus, and examines the world of sports education. Andrew, our Deputy Director, has almost completed a new Sports publication, which details entry requirements, graduate career prospects and course specifications for undergraduate sports students.

In the guide’s opening paragraph Andrew explains why this guide is such a topical publication, and relevant to contemporary Higher Education:

“The London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 only increased the nation’s appetite for sporting endeavours, boosting the already popular pastime even further. As a result greater numbers of students are opting for Sporting qualifications within Higher Education, and a greater number of universities now supply sporting courses.”

Look out for the publication at the beginning of the autumn term. In the meantime we have collated some Sports Education statistics (using our EMSI LMI tool and what uni.com) for your reading pleasure.

There are 60,374 sports related jobs in London.

The Sports Industry within London is predicted to grow by 2.4% by the year 2020

The London average annual earnings for sporting careers? £21k (the national average is only £16k)

The number of Sports & Exercise Science HE acceptances has risen from 9,255 in 2007, to 15,205 in 2015

The number of applications for Sports & Exercise Science courses rose from 49,905 in 2007, to 71,230 in 2015

Sports Undergraduates have an average of 17 teaching hours per week

71% of sports students are male

And finally, on the hot topic of employability, 96% of Sports & Exercise Science students are employed 6 months after graduating.

That’s all from us this week, more next Monday.

THE WEEK IN EDUCATION NEWS

Hello Readers

The summer months are quiet ones for the education sector. The time when students and teachers alike flee the classroom to enjoy the sunshine (well, some of the time), and when we hunker down in our office to busily prepare resources and events schedules for the coming term.

So rather than repeat last week’s post, and reel off the extensive list of conferences, workshops and publications we are working on, I have decided to use this week’s post to examine the latest educational news, and how it ties in to the work of Linking London.

The Brexit Backlash

The majority of the Education sector voted to remain in the EU, but we were in the minority as the referendum results revealed. Much of the sector is still reeling, asking what Britain’s exit from the EU means for Higher Education.

Britain’s future in the Erasmus scheme has been thrown into doubt, with the head of the programme refusing to guarantee British participation beyond next year. We also heard this week that new Prime Minister Theresa May is considering placing heavier restrictions on student visas, allowing only the very best foreign students’ access to British Universities. Many of our partners have issued statements reassuring current EU applicants that they are still welcome, and that the immigration status of current students remains (as yet) unchanged.

HEI leaders from 24 EU countries have signed a statement acknowledging the imminent Brexit, but calling for collaboration to continue in spite of it:  “We as European university leaders wish to reaffirm our commitment to international cooperation and exchange in this turbulent time for Europe. We are strongest when we tackle issues collaboratively”.  These sentiments on the power of collaboration are shared by the Linking London team – through our collaborative partnership we aim to make our members stronger, and better prepared for the future of the sector.

The Future of FE

HE in FE is often overlooked, yet around 159,000 learners are studying HE at college.  Currently many FE practitioners fear the implications of the HE Bill, and are concerned that the Office for Students could price colleges out of the HE sector.  Many of our partner colleges provide HE for students. If they were no longer able to afford an HE offer this would be a serious blow to disadvantaged London students who rely upon their local provision.

Social Mobility

Finally this week there has been much discussion regarding the relationship between social mobility and education – a topic close to our hearts, as Linking London was founded to pursue improvements in student achievement, social mobility and social justice.

Alan Milburn, Social Mobility Commission Chairman, believes: “It will be impossible to make progress in improving social mobility until the educational attainment gap between less well-off and better-off children is closed.”

We welcome Mr Milburn’s comments on the importance of education to social mobility – Linking London operates on the belief that through education learners can overcome class barriers and realise their ambitions.

More news, updates and commentary next week.