Friday 5: creative thinking, hardship, levelling up, election polling, alternative provision


21st June 2024

1. PISA 2022 data on creative thinking published

New PISA 2022 data on creative thinking was published this week. This latest release, which does not include data from England, Wales, or Scotland, offers insight into how well international education systems prepare students ‘to think outside the box’. Key findings include:

  • 50% of students on average across participating OECD countries are at ‘Proficiency Level 4’, meaning they can think of ‘original and diverse ideas’ when faced with everyday problem-solving situations
  • The majority of countries above the OECD average in creative thinking also perform better than average in maths, reading, and science
  • Strong academic performance and excellence in creative thinking do not necessarily go hand in hand: around half of all students who performed at the highest level in creative thinking did not perform equivalently well in maths

The full findings are here.

2. New research shows impact of hardship on schools

New research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that primary schools are struggling to respond to the increasing levels of hardship among pupils. School staff surveyed estimated that 48% of their pupils had experienced hardship at some point since the start of the school year. Key findings from the research included: 

  • More pupils are in need of emotional support at school due to the hardship they are experiencing 
  • A growing number of parents and carers are looking to schools for help and support to cope with hardship
  • A third of workers say their school provides a food bank to cope with rising levels of hunger
  • Some staff are providing pupils with essential items such as toiletries, energy top-up vouchers, beds, and bedding from their own pocket 
  • Resources are being diverted to address the demand for hardship support, exacerbating existing issues around funding, resources, and teacher wellbeing and workload 

The full report is here.

3. The Government’s progress ‘levelling up’ the English education sector evaluated by IFS

The IFS has published a report analysing the Government’s progress over the last five years on its ‘levelling up’ agenda. The overall picture on progress is bleak, and the report’s findings on education match with the national picture. Data highlighted by the IFS included:

  • The share of English primary school pupils meeting expected standards by the end of Year 6 has fallen from 65% in 2018-19 to 60% in June 2023
  • The number of further education courses completed fell by 14%. This figure is 20% in the lowest-skilled areas
  • The 10 best-performing local authorities for education were all in London

The full report is here.

4. Poll shows the public’s education priorities

Polling by Public First has found that spending on education is not viewed as a priority by the public. Funding for the NHS, adult social care, and employment support are seen as spending priorities. However, this polling also found that few believe education institutions have improved since 2010: a majority agreed that the quality of education from early years to universities has ‘stayed the same’ or become ‘somewhat worse’. 

When asked about the education sector, the public identified tackling teacher recruitment, increasing apprenticeship opportunities, improving the identification of local skill and employment needs, and increasing mental health support in schools as priorities.

Full analysis of the polling is here.

5. FFT Education Datalab blog explores the numbers behind alternative provision shortages

While the FFT Education Datalab found that the number of alternative provision (AP) schools fell between 2019 and 2023 from 352 to 335, there is less clarity on the number of children and young people in AP.  Pupils’ enrolment status appears to be the main reason behind this lack of clarity: where pupils are enrolled in an AP school part-time, their enrolment status is usually classed as ‘subsidiary’ (enrolment status S). Pupils with subsidiary enrolment are not counted in the main statistics for AP schools despite them making up a large proportion of the pupils. In 2022/23, 13,191 pupils were counted as enrolled at AP schools. This figure excluded the 11,900 ‘subsidiary’ pupils enrolled part-time.

The full analysis 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.