Friday Five: enrichment, Ofsted and SEND, FSM progression, NTP, PFI


16th February 2024

1. New EPI research explores access to extra-curricular activities and outcomes

A report published this week by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has explored access to extra-curricular activities by children in England, and the potential benefits of these activities. The key findings are that vulnerable groups are less likely to attend sports clubs and clubs for hobbies, arts, and music; pupils in local authority schools are less likely to attend extra-curricular clubs than pupils in academies, and that students who attended both sports clubs and clubs for hobbies, arts, and music were more likely to participate in sporting activities in their early twenties.

Enrichment and extra-curricular activities are an area of particular interest to us at CfEY. We’re currently working with the NCS Trust and The Duke of Edinburgh Award to carry out new research on education and enrichment. The findings from this research, which explores what works to strengthen collaboration and coordination between the education and youth sectors, will be published later this year.

The EPI report is here; a blog on our work on enrichment is here.

2. Ofsted and CQC to visit schools to examine the ‘preparation for adulthood’ of children with SEND 

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have issued new guidance for upcoming visits focusing on the preparation of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) for adulthood. These visits will examine various aspects of the SEND system, spanning from early years to post-16 education, focusing on preparation for adulthood in areas such as employment, independent living, community inclusion, and health. The inspections will assess how local partners collaborate to prioritise the interests and aspirations of young people with SEND, gathering input from stakeholders, including families and young people themselves. Key topics will include support for achieving potential, promoting independence, societal participation, and health. Both Ofsted and the CQC emphasise the importance of improving the SEND system to better meet the needs of children and families, hoping these visits will inform future improvements. They highlight the significance of understanding and involving children, young people, and families during times of transition, aiming to identify areas for enhancement and share best practices.

Read the press release here.

3. New research by NEON highlights the ‘postcode lottery’ students on free school meals face when going to university

Young people on free school meals (FSM) are over five times as likely to go to university if they live in some parts of the country over others, new research by NEON has found. The research looked at university progression for students on free school meals between 2005-2022. Other notable findings were that just 10%of state-funded pupils who progressed to higher education in 2021-22 came from an FSM background, the progression between FSM students in London and those elsewhere in the country has grown, and that the progression of FSM state-funded pupils in 69% of local authorities in England is below the national average.

The full report is here.

4. Funding cuts planned for the National Tutoring Programme 

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt reportedly plans to cut funding for the National Tutoring Programme, a scheme to assist disadvantaged pupils in catching up on learning lost during the Covid pandemic. This decision has sparked criticism from both former Labour and Conservative education figures, who argue that the programme has the potential to significantly benefit thousands of students. The government had initially increased funding for the scheme but is now not expected to continue it beyond the summer, leaving schools to cover the entire cost. Critics warn that without continued funding, tutoring may become inaccessible to many disadvantaged students, potentially exacerbating educational inequalities. CfEY’s 2022 report titled ‘Levelling up Tutoring’ lays out an ambitious plan for how policymakers can strategise the use of tutoring in the long term to close the attainment gap. In the report, we not only advocate for the continuation of funding from 2025-2030 but also recommend a host of other measures like kitemarking quality tuition providers, creating tutor standards, and building developmental pathways for tutoring professionals, among others, to improve upon the current version of the NTP moving forward. 

Read the full article here.

5. Costs of PFI contracts for schools uncovered by the BBC

Some schools are spending tens of thousands of pounds more each year on private finance initiative (PFI) contracts with private firms, the BBC reported this week. These schools, which are locked into long-term contracts which can last up to 30 years, are spending five or six figures annually on costs such as school maintenance, catering, and cleaning. David Potter, Headteacher at a primary school in Liverpool, told the BBC that 20% of his school budget is now spent on meeting the terms of the school’s PFI contract. But Lord John Hutton, Chair of the recently created Association of Infrastructure Investors in Public Private Finance, a PFI advocacy body, said the contracts ‘do represent good value for money for the taxpayer.’

The full BBC report is here.

That’s all for this week! If you found this blog useful, please be sure to share/tweet it and follow @theCfEY, @Barristotle, and @conorcarleton for future editions.