Friday Five: spring budget, arts education, curriculum diversity, gender-based violence, children’s social care


8th March 2024

1. Spring Budget: new free schools, changes to child benefits, funded childcare rollout

It’s that time of year again. In what is likely to be the final budget before this year’s as-yet-undated general election, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a range of measures impacting the education and youth sectors. Headlines include £105 million to launch 15 new free schools across the country, an increase in the eligibility threshold for child benefits, and a reaffirmation of the government’s intention to expand funded childcare options to support parents to return to work.

More detail on the measures announced is here.

2. FFT publish new analysis on pupils’ access to creative subjects

New data analysis from the FFT Education Data Lab paints a stark picture of the state of creative arts education in English schools. Looking at data on the number of pupils who have taken qualifications in creative subjects between 2015 – 2023 highlights a clear ongoing decline. In short, fewer pupils are achieving a qualification in a creative subject in 2023 than 2015, and schools are less likely to offer qualifications in these subjects too. But this decline is not equitable – the analysis revealed that pupils in schools with the most disadvantaged populations were least likely to take a music or other performing arts qualification, and they were much more likely to go to a school at which these qualifications are not on offer.

Championing arts education is close to our hearts at CfEY. We work closely with the Cultural Learning Alliance and our upcoming Report Card looks at how arts education in schools has changed over the last 13 years.

The full analysis is here.

3. Runnymede Trust publishes ‘Visualise’’: an exploration of race and inclusion in secondary school art education

Sticking with creative arts education, the Runnymede Trust and Freelands Foundation have published the findings of new research into race and ethnicity in school art education. Findings reveal a curriculum out-of-step with the interests of both pupils and teachers. While 66% of secondary school pupils (and 80% of black pupils) would like to study artists from a wider range of ethnic backgrounds, just 2.3% of named artists referenced in GCSE arts exam papers are from black or South Asian backgrounds. The research also found a ‘strong desire’ among teachers for greater diversity in the arts education curriculum.

The full research is here.

4. ScotGov releases new guidance on tackling gender-based violence in schools

The Scottish Government has published a new approach to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in schools. ScotGov claim the framework, which was developed by a working group co-chaired by  Rape Crisis Scotland, Zero Tolerance, and ScotGov representatives, supports schools in various ways, including:

  •       demonstrating how gender-based violence impacts young people,
  •       highlighting how education in schools can help prevent gender-based violence,
  •       providing clear guidance to improve schools’ responses to gender-based violence,
  •       outlining best practice on how schools should be recording instances of gender-based violence.

This guidance has been developed following the release of the Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research report last year, which highlighted an increase in misogynistic views and language in schools across the country.

The full guidance is here.

5. Children’s Commissioner highlights ‘postcode lottery of support’ for children on child in need plans

A new report by the Children’s Commissioner has highlighted the huge regional variation in support from children’s social services. As many as 100,000 vulnerable children on social service plans are negatively impacted by the inequitable distribution of support services across the country. Other key findings were that the rate of children having no further action taken after a referral varied considerably between local authorities, and that for a quarter of children severely absent from school and referred to children’s social care, their most recent referral did not lead to them receiving support from social care services.

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.