Friday Five: graduate outcomes, attainment gaps, teacher recruitment, early years challenges, free breakfast clubs


28th June 2024

1. Graduate earnings up but the gender pay gap increases – findings from the latest LEO data

The latest Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) graduate and postgraduate outcomes data has been published, and it paints a mixed picture on the state of employment and earnings outcomes. This latest data drop covers the 2023/22 tax year.

First, the good news: median graduate earnings increased compared with the previous tax year. In 2021/22, the median earning five years after graduation was £29,900 – an increase of 3.8% on 2020/21. Median earnings for postgraduates also increased – by 3.1%.

Alongside this, the pay gap between graduates who received Free School Meals (FSM) and those who did not decreased in 2021/22 compared to 2020/21. In 2021/22 the median earnings for FSM graduates five years after graduation was 8.5% (£2600) less than the median earnings of non-FSM graduates – in 2020/21 this gap was 11.3%.

However, the gender gap in median earnings five years after graduation was higher than the gender gap in the previous tax year. The median earnings for female graduates five years after graduation was £3,900 (12.2%) lower than male median earnings 2021/22 – in 2020/21 this gap was 11.8%. 

See the full data release here.

2. Attainment gap between high-achieving disadvantaged pupils and their peers widens at secondary school, new research finds

A study by researchers at University College London has found that while high-ability pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds keep up with their peers at primary school, an attainment gap opens once at secondary school. Just 40% of high-ability disadvantaged five-year-olds go on to achieve a grade 7 in GCSE maths, compared with 65% of highly able five-year-olds from affluent backgrounds. 

The research studied the outcomes of 389 highly able five-year-olds from disadvantaged families across the UK, and compared their results with outcomes from 1,392 equally able five-year-olds from affluent families.

The full research is here.

3. Government teacher recruitment targets missed for third year, NFER analysis shows

England’s teacher recruitment and retention crisis is well documented, and new analysis from the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) has shown the Government will miss its targets on teacher training recruitment for the third year in a row, and the 11th in the last 12.

Recruitment issues are worse at the secondary level with 11 out of 17 secondary subjects predicted to not reach their recruitment target. Recruitment for Physics, Modern Foreign Languages, and DT teachers are not even expected to achieve half of the target. Despite doing better than secondary schools, primary school recruitment is still down, 15% below target.  

NFER analysis also highlights the role of bursaries in improving teacher recruitment, leading to an increase in applications. 

Read the full thread here

4. Childcare and early years challenges explored in new CPP election briefing

The Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) has published an election briefing covering childcare and early years challenges the next government will face. Expanded, state-subsidised childcare has gained cross-party support in this year’s general election manifestos – a welcome development as the UK has one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world, and modelling predicting a 52% increase in demand for childcare by late 2025. 

CPP emphasise that supply will have to increase ‘dramatically’ in most regions in order to meet demand. In particular, the cities of the Midlands, Hull, and outer London’s poorer boroughs will need to expand their childcare workforce by over 20% in just over a year.

Currently, the UK has some of the lowest spending amongst OECD countries on early years and childcare. In order to fulfil such ambitions of expansion CPP predict that the next government will have to spend ‘significantly more than anticipated’. 

Read the full policy briefing here.  

5. Mixed response to Labour’s universal primary breakfast club proposals in new IFS evaluation

An evaluation of Labour’s proposal to extend free breakfast clubs to all primary schools in England by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has identified a number of benefits and challenges with the policy. Currently only 12% of primary schools offer free breakfast clubs, and the benefits of the expansion include:

  • universal access to free or low-cost before-school childcare for families 
  • improving nutrition by reducing the likelihood that children skip breakfast and ensuring they have a healthy and balanced morning meal
  • raising children’s attainment and improving the wider classroom environment. 

However, the feasibility of Labour’s funding commitments for the policy is unclear, as are other aspects on the detail of its delivery. Its success would also see an increased workload for teachers in a sector where issues over teacher workload and school budgets remain widespread.

Read the full analysis 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.