The OU’s size and the composition of its student body makes it a significant actor in debates on the subject of part-time and continuingeducation. Established in 1969, the OU specialises in flexible distance learning. People study with the OU for a range of reasons, for example to gain a formal qualification;
update skills; assist in the advance of or a change in their career; or to keep mentally active. 24 The OU has a diverse student body when compared with other, more traditional, higher education institutions. It taught 38 percent of part-time undergraduates in the UK in 2015/16 and a majority of its new undergraduate students were aged over 25 in that year. 25 More recently, the OU has stated that just over three quarters (76 percent) of directly-registered OU students in 2016/17 worked full or part- time during their studies—so called ‘learners and earners’. In addition, 55 percent of its students in England in the same period came from a disadvantaged background, adding weight to the OU’s claim to be the UK’s “largest social mobiliser”. 26 Furthermore, 23,630 of the OU’s students in 2016/17 had at least one disability, making it the largest provider of higher education for disabled students in England last year. 27
instruments for 662,871 pupils in 2015/16 (8.73 percent of pupils nationally). Of these, 70.13 percent of pupils were receiving whole-class ensemble teaching for the first time.
Despite this funding, both the Coalition Government and the current Government have been criticised for not doing enough to support music education in schools. Organisations including the Musicians’ Union and Protect Music Education have argued the overall level of funding available has reduced, in part because of pressure on local government budgets. The introduction of the English Baccalaureate Certificate (Ebacc) has also been criticised because music GCSE is not included in the list of subjects used in this measure of attainment. In 2017, researchers at Sussex University found 59.7 percent of state schools believed the introduction of the Ebacc was having a negative impact on the provision and uptake of music in their school.
Figure 3: A Level Entries in French, German and Spanish, 1997–2017 10
The British Council’s 2018 language trends survey report discussed some of the potential reasons for the decline in language learning in recent years. The report claimed an emphasis on the ‘STEM’ subjects of English, maths and science means languages “remain a marginal subject”, which many primary schools “find difficult to deliver alongside many other competing demands”. 11 The report argued “more schools are allocating a shorter time to
Total school spending per pupil fell by 8% in real terms between 2009/10 and 2017/18, and will only be about 14% higher in real terms in 2017/18 than in 2003/04. This adds on the additional effect of a 55% real-terms cut in local authority service spending and a real-terms cut of more than 20% to school sixth-form spending per student between 2009/10 and 2017/18. Spending per pupil by individual schools was partly buttressed by transfers of responsibility and funding from local authorities to schools. This total measure is probably the most comprehensive measure of public spending on schools over time. 57 When questioned on the IFS’s claim that school funding per pupil had fallen by 8% since 2009/10, the Government responded by highlighting their recent investment into the education system:
Counsel to the inquiry, Ben Emmerson QC, 89 noted at the inquiry’s first preliminary hearing that the inquiry will need to remain sensitive to the particular needs of vulnerable complainants without unduly privileging their testimony. At the same time, he said the inquiry will need to recognise the damage that can be caused by false accusations of sexual abuse, without hesitating to make findings against individuals and institutions if justified by the evidence. I agree with that analysis. I am committed to ensuring that we hear all relevant testimony, including from victims and survivors as well as from those affected by false allegations of abuse. As I announced in November last year, the Inquiry intends to explore the balance which must be struck between encouraging the reporting of child sexual abuse and protecting the rights of the accused. 90
The report concluded that “a large part of the gender pay gap is down to women’s concentration in part-time work […] this is partly due to women’s disproportionate responsibility for unpaid caring, but also because many of the sectors women work in, like retail and care, offer predominantly low-paid, part-time work”. 70 The Committee concluded that “flexible working for all lies at the heart of addressing the gender pay gap”, and emphasised that “this does not mean part-time work, which we know is underpaid and limits career progression. Flexible working is much broader and includes jobs shares, late starts, early finishes, term time working and working from home”. The Committee also argued that addressing the pay gap requires family responsibilities to be divided more equally, stating that
Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho to move that this House takes note of the case for improved digital understanding at all levels of United Kingdom society.
Digital technology has transformed UK and global society, both in the workplace and at home. Given the continuing advances in digital technology, the importance of digital skills to both the economy and the ability of people to function in an increasingly digital world have been emphasised. In 2017, Lloyds Bank reported that 11.5 million people in the UK lacked basic digital skills, and the Office for National Statistics estimated 9 percent of people had never used the internet. Research has indicated that age, disability, social class, income and the age at which people leave education are indicators of internet use. In 2016, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee suggested that the UK was facing a “digital skills crisis”, citing a 2013 study showing that the UK needed “745,000 additional workers with digital skills to meet rising demand from employers over the period 2013–2017”. The digital skills gap was “costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost GDP”.
New clause 1 would have required IFATE to report annually to Parliament on the quality outcomes of completed apprenticeships. This report would have been required to include information such as job outcomes and average annualised earnings for the first year following the completion of an apprenticeship. The Shadow Education Minister, Gordon Marsden, stated that a similar amendment had been moved at committee stage, and this change to the Bill was necessary to ensure that the Government’s focus on increasing the number of people starting apprenticeships was matched by a focus on apprenticeship completions and their outcomes. 30 He argued that, while the Labour Party supported the objective of increasing the number of apprenticeship starts, there remained concerns on the part of the Opposition about ensuring the quality of these new apprenticeships. 31
introduced, and point out that the free schools tend to be attended by children from relatively affluent backgrounds. Furthermore, they note that pupils attending them do not do better in post- school education.
However, others argue that the free schools have performed better than other schools, and that this, in turn, has led schools to improve their organisation and teaching in order to improve results. […] The Government has compiled a note of evidence supporting the free school model, The Case for School Freedom: National and International evidence. This cites evidence in support of the US charter schools and the Swedish free schools, and includes information on ‘debunking myths about school freedoms’, which addresses questions about whether such schools only benefit the well-off, covertly select pupils, hamper the performance of neighbouring schools and neglect the needs of pupils with special needs. Research by the Institute of Education at the University of London suggests that the Swedish free schools have had a positive effect on pupils’ academic achievements. However, research published by Bristol University concludes that while the experience of Sweden is helpful, it is limited in the extent to which it can help predict the impact of school reforms in England. 24
To the extent that these proposals are based on the ability of individuals to pursue resolution of their issues without legal assistance, Liberty believes the Bill is premised on false assumptions about the accessibility of justice in the absence of legal advice. There will be many for whom an adverse decision will seem unfair, but very many fewer who will recognise that they may seek legal redress to uphold their entitlements; fewer still will be adequately aware of the processes for challenge and have the confidence to put forward arguments against formidable opponents in formal court proceedings. In this respect the Government is right to suggest that a reliance on self-representation will significantly reduce the expenditure of the Ministry of Justice, but this will be at the expense of access to justice for those ill-equipped to navigate the justice system alone. For those individuals who make it as far as the Court door without assistance, their cases are likely to last longer and consume more of the time of court staff and the judiciary, creating major and lasting financial
The report by the Independent Commission on Fees in July 2015 also stated concern about the detrimental impact of increased fees on part- time students and the negative effect on social mobility:
But there is a far more severe issue in the parttime and mature market, where a precipitous fall in demand has been seen, with further relapses this year. This must be a major concern, especially from the perspective of social mobility, since the parttime market has traditionally been a ‘second chance’ route for those without the automatic assumption of university progression. 53
In the 2016–17 session, the Government introduced a number of bills including provisions which address some of the issues raised by the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee.
Part 1 of the Digital Economy Bill includes provisions to create a broadband universal service obligation, the intention of which is to entitle consumers to minimum speed broadband from their provider. The Bill also provides for free training for adults in basic digital skills. Clause 87 of the Bill would create a statutory duty on the Secretary of State for Education for basic digital skills to be publicly funded, and offered to adults over 19 in England free of charge. 72 At second reading of the Bill in the House of Lords, the Government stated that this “reflects the
7. Appendix –Trends in education spending v population change
In 2017 an estimated £23 billion was spent privately on education. 10 Including this spending with the earlier figures gives a more complete picture of the amount of national income that we have devoted to education. A series that only looks at public spending will be affected by shifts in the liability for costs from the public to private sections (tuition fees) and vice versa (free early years education). So a total private and public series more accurately reflects overall spending at any one point in time and is not affected by shifts from one sector to another. It is not perfect though. Data on private spending on education start in the 1960s, there is a break in the series in 1997 due to revised data and the figures cover fees for education only. This means that private spending on books and other education resources for school pupils is excluded, as is student maintenance and loan repayments. Excluding student
Education Act 1996 they do have a duty to make arrangements to identify children in their area who are not receiving a suitable education. 21
The DfE’s guidance for local authorities explains that, while the law does not assume that a child is not being suitably educated if they are not attending school full-time, it does require local authorities to enquire what education is being provided. 22 There are no detailed requirements as to how a system of oversight should work, and it is for each local authority to decide its approach. However, the guidance emphasises that a proportional approach needs to be taken and local authorities should not exert more oversight than is actually needed when parents are providing a suitable education. It recommends that an authority should ordinarily make contact with home educating parents on at least an annual basis so that it can reasonably inform itself of the suitability of the education provided. 23
Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis. However, they do have duties to make arrangements to identify children not receiving a suitable education, and to intervene if it appears that they are not. Intervention could, for example, take the form of issuing a school attendance order, although Government guidance on home education encourages authorities to address the issue informally before serving such a notice. As part of their safeguarding duties local authorities have powers to insist on seeing a child to enquire about their welfare where there are grounds for concern, but this does not extend to seeing and questioning children for the purpose of establishing whether they are receiving a suitable education.
In addition to this economic rationale, the report also outlined a social need for change: that individuals should have access to a national system of technical qualifications that is easy to understand, has credibility with employers and remains stable over time. The current system, it argued, failed on all three counts, comprising “a confusing and ever-changing multitude of qualifications”, many of which “hold little value in the eyes of individuals and are not understood or sought by employers.” 13 The report added that learners, teachers and the public have “long regarded technical education qualifications as inferior to academic qualifications”, and higher level technical qualifications
In addition to this economic rationale, the report also outlined a social need for change: that individuals should have access to a national system of technical qualifications that is easy to understand, has credibility with employers and remains stable over time. The current system, it argued, failed on all three counts, comprising “a confusing and ever-changing multitude of qualifications”, many of which “hold little value in the eyes of individuals and are not understood or sought by employers.” 13 The report added that learners, teachers and the public have “long regarded technical education qualifications as inferior to academic qualifications” and that at higher levels, technical
• 59% of girls and young women aged 13-21 said in 2014 that they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year 6
The Committee highlighted evidence from young people that “sexual harassment has become a normal part of school life,” and found “an alarming inconsistency in how schools deal with sexual harassment and violence, which is mostly targeted at girls, a disregard for existing national and international equality obligations, and a lack of guidance and support for teachers.” 7
Alongside the increase to the rate paid to providers, the Government also announced as part of the 2015 Spending Review that “at least £50 million of capital funding” would be allocated to help providers who wish to expand and increase the number of places they are able to offer. 122 Capital funding would also be made available to create nursery provision as part of new Free Schools. The Government estimated that at least 4,000 places would be created that way. 123 The Government contended that its cost estimates “aim to be representative” of the national picture for each provider type, but that it also considered that its Review of the Cost of Childcare had showed that wages for childcare workers, and the mix of providers, varied across the country. 124 The Government acknowledged that at the time of its response to the Committee’s report, the funding system for the 3- and 4-year old entitlement created “unfair and
‘protected characteristics’ such as age, sex, disability and ethnicity.
The Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015 made some headline announcements about funding paid through the funding council, the extension of maintenance loans to part-time students and new loans for Master’s degrees. It also announced that the discount rate applied to loans would be reduced to 0.7% and set the spending totals for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which will eventually feedthrough to annual funding allocations for higher education.