EdCo News Round Up February 2020

School League Tables report shows girls have been outperforming boys for 30 years

Girls are likely to outperform boys in their GCSE exams. Data published by the Centre for Education and Employment Research University of Buckingham shows a clear trend in girls achieving higher grades than boys over the last three decades. Often attributed to the introduction of GCSEs in 1988, boys have been found to ‘lag’ behind girls in GSCE results as well as university entrance. 

Despite this blatant discrepancy, little is being done to address the issue with the focus remaining on the imbalance of poorer pupils versus the more affluent. Research shows that the gap in achievement is beginning to close between poorer pupils and their classmates, but the gap between male and female students remains quite constant. 

The gender gap that pervades our educational system has been well-known for some time and campaigners insist that the divide between male and female pupils is likely to supersede that of the disparity between rich and poor. Some put this issue down to boys feeling less confident in their ability to perform under pressure and girls feeling a necessity to prove themselves. Regardless of the root cause, the symptom persists.

School league tables: Boys behind girls for three decades (BBC)

The gender gap (The Guardian)

Girls are 'more than twice as likely' as boys to achieve a pass in a language GCSE (The Independent)

Gender Inequality in the British Education System (Gender Trust)

Apprenticeships - better than University?

Apprenticeship uptake tumbles despite growing opinions amongst parents that an apprenticeship may be better suited to their child than higher or further education. There’s much talk around the negative stereotypes faced by those who choose a vocational qualification. The blame is being placed on outdated opinions and a general lack of understanding about what an apprenticeship can and may entail. 

Every parent is justified in wanting what’s best for their child, but research shows that many parents are worried about what will happen during an apprenticeship, with some concerned that their child will be taken advantage of and simply be left, ‘making the tea’. Apprenticeships are ‘not what they used to be’, with vocational opportunities ranging from ‘trades’ right through to aerospace engineering. Often apprenticeships have been labelled as ‘grunt work’, but times have changed and continue to. 

Many young people are now choosing online education and apprenticeships over a university education for several reasons including; student debt, exam stress, potential to earn whilst learning, and the ability to gain experience and focus on a career path that they are passionate about. Evidence mounts that parents are becoming more encouraging towards apprenticeships, as the opportunities for young people are increasingly proven. 

The popularity of apprenticeships is set to increase with those deciding to embark upon a vocational qualification citing finances as one of their main reasons. Apprenticeships allow young people to enter the working world more rapidly, and some consider this to be a valid reason why apprenticeships should be thoroughly encouraged. Opinions are still divided, but with the dawn of new and much sought after vocational qualifications, it’s easy to see the appeal. 

Education Secretary says he will urge his children to do an apprenticeship (Mail Online)

5 reasons why apprenticeships are better than going to Uni (KTA)

As the cost of going to university is rising, so too is the number of young people opting to take other routes into the workplace. (Virgin)

Degree apprenticeships (UCAS)

Apprenticeship v university: What course to take? (BBC)


Teacher number set to fall

Studies show the number of employees in the education workforce is set to drop over the next few years. Reasons towards people avoiding a teaching profession range from insufficient salary to issues around sunken staff morale. Despite the fact the figures show only a small decrease in teaching staff numbers, with pupil numbers consistently rising, the cause for alarm is clear. 

Those considering teaching as a profession are becoming increasingly drawn to the private sector, with the promise of better pay and smaller class sizes. The Department of Education are currently attempting to recruit more teachers, offering considerable bursaries to those who want to teach in subjects needing the most attention. Starting salaries for teachers are considered to be especially low, given the workload and stress that the profession often entails. 

The number of teachers had been rising quite steadily up to 2017, but since then figures are on the decline. The apparent drop is primarily due to existing teachers leaving the workforce versus the volume of those entering the profession. The problem is seemingly being addressed by the Department of Education and they hope to see a clear rise in numbers over the coming years. 

Working Futures 2017-2027 (Department for Education Report)

Teacher numbers will drop until 2022, DfE predicts (TES)

Teacher numbers fall for first time in six years (Mail Online)