Friday Five: school leadership, FE across the UK, social media misogyny, children’s mental health, universal childcare


9th February 2024

1. CfEY and Big Education publish new report on the future of leadership in schools

Our latest report, co-written with multi academy trust (MAT) Big Education and launched in the House of Commons earlier this week, explores the state of leadership in schools, how it could be improved, and what might come next. We argue that while national professional qualification (NPQ) reforms are a positive step forward, leaders need a more holistic journey which empowers them with the skills, knowledge, and mindsets to respond to the challenging and changing contexts within which they are working. Our recommendations include calling on the government to commission an independent expert review of leadership development provision and to review the role of Ofsted in relation to leadership, and for MATs and school governing bodies to consider how they can invest resources into school leadership development and opportunities that go beyond NPQs.

The full report is here.

2. Edge Foundation publish guide on further education landscape across the UK’s four nations

Education is a devolved matter in the UK, and each of the four governments have taken differing approaches to further education (FE) provision in their respective nations. Building on work first published in 2018, the Edge Foundation have published a short guide on FE provision across the UK, how it has changed in the last five years, what development plans currently look like, and how the approaches of the four governments differ from each other.

In partnership with Policy Connect, CfEY recently published work on the FE offer in England, looking at how uptake of and engagement with Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) could be improved.

The guide is here; our report on HTQs is here.

3. New report warns of increasing misogynistic content on social media

A new report by researchers from University College London and the University of Kent highlights how social media algorithms amplify misogynistic content for young people. The study, focusing on TikTok, reveals a significant increase in misogynistic material suggested by the platform’s algorithm over a short period. Researchers warn that misogynistic content is influencing many young people’s offline behaviour. Calls for action include reviewing algorithms, strengthening safeguards, and implementing regulations to protect users, particularly young people, from harmful content online. Although TikTok disputes the methodology used in the report, Ofcom has promised change. A spokesperson  claimed that “under the Online Safety Act, online services such as social media and search services will have duties to protect users’ safety and their rights – understanding and addressing content which disproportionately affects women and girls online is central to this.”

Read the full report here.

4. Launch of Children’s Mental Health Week highlights ongoing barriers to support

The latest data from Place2Be reveals that over half of young people in the UK encounter obstacles when seeking mental health support. A survey and focus groups conducted among 8-16 year olds shed light on various barriers they face, such as discomfort talking to strangers and fears of negative reactions from friends or family. The stigma surrounding mental health and difficulties in articulating feelings were also cited as deterrents. School-related stressors, appearance concerns, and worries about family finances were among the top concerns expressed by respondents. During Children’s Mental Health Week, schools are encouraged to engage in activities and discussions, supported by resources provided by Place2Be. Additionally, parents, teachers, and caregivers are urged to actively listen to children’s concerns and provide support. Here is CfEY’s own report on the various pathways available for school-based staff for their professional development on mental health. 

Read the full article here.

5. New report from Civitas questions the efficacy of universal childcare

Think-tank Civitas has shared new research which it claims provides a “vital counter” to the “political consensus” on state childcare subsidies. The report’s author, Maria Lyons, reviewed 40 studies into universal childcare, and argued that not one study presented evidence that universal childcare provided a benefit to most children. Instead, the major beneficiaries of the policy tend to be children from the most deprived backgrounds, who Lyons suggests could benefit more from targeted intervention.

The full 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.