Friday Five: Universal Credit, ABS, exclusions, digital lives, climate education


26th April 2024

1. Fresh insight from parents on the impact of the two-child Universal Credit cap 

New research from Nesta presents perspectives from parents on how the two-child cap in Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit is impacting their children’s early learning and development. It makes for sobering reading. The research involved interviews with 35 parents from families impacted by the policy across four English local authorities. Nesta found that:

  • Many parents spoke about living with ‘severe and increasing’ financial hardship, and an increasing challenge to afford necessities amid rising debt
  • Children in families impacted by the two-child limit faced limited early learning and educational opportunities compared to their peers
  • Impacted parents discussed their increased stress, worry, and guilt levels, and the impact of the policy on their mental health.

The full research is here.

2. New research explores public’s attitudes towards the Government’s ABS proposals

The Edge Foundation this week released new data into public attitudes towards the Advanced British Standard. The Government’s latest proposed revamp of 16-19 education would see the abolition of A-levels and (the seemingly short-lived) T-levels, bringing academic and vocational qualifications under one brand. The headline findings from the ‘nationally representative’ poll of over 2,000 adults in England were:

  • More than half think the current education system ‘prepares young people poorly’ for the workplace
  • 82% support offering young people more technical or vocational options for post-16 study, and 90% think education should focus more on teaching young people skills for everyday life
  • While 81% think technical and vocational qualifications should be as respected as academic ones, just 32% think this is currently the case.

The full findings are here.

3. School exclusion and suspension rates still rising, new analysis suggests

New analysis on school exclusion and suspension rates from the FFT Education Datalab suggests exclusions and suspensions are continuing to rise. Using attendance data collected directly from schools for the current academic year so far, the analysis suggests that the expansion and exclusion rate has increased by 25% for Year 9 pupils and 33% for Year 7 pupils, with all year groups seeing a rise. Roughly 15% of ‘disadvantaged’ pupils have been excluded this academic year.

The full analysis is here.

4. Rise in smartphone and tablet ownership amongst children, Ofcom finds

More children than ever own a smartphone or tablet, new research by Ofcom has found. Around a quarter of children aged five to seven own a smartphone, over three quarters have a tablet, and a third use social media unsupervised. While the research found that more parents discuss safe digital usage with their children, there may be a gap between what older children experience online and what they share with their parents. In response to the findings, Ofcom plans to enhance child safety measures, including the use of AI to detect illegal and harmful content. 

Read the full report here

5. Cambridge University Press advocates for better climate education 

Experts from Cambridge University Press & Assessment have called for a comprehensive review of climate change education in school curriculums. They propose embedding climate change knowledge and skills into various subjects to better prepare students for the challenges of the climate crisis and the emerging green industries. A YouGov survey commissioned by the university revealed strong support for increased climate education among both adults and young people, with a majority believing it would better equip students for green economy jobs and help them make informed daily choices. Respondents stressed the need for climate education to be integrated across different subjects, acknowledging the multi-dimensional nature of the climate crisis and its implications for society. 

Read the article 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.