Displaying items by tag: Education
University students in the UK are facing unprecedented rent increases as the value of maintenance loans fails to keep pace. Rents have risen by over 8% since 2022, with some cases seeing increases of up to 27%. The demand for accommodation has soared, with nearly 390,000 more students needing housing in the past decade. Rising operational and development costs, high inflation, and a decline in new bed space delivery have contributed to the increases. The average private sector rent outside London now exceeds £7,600 per year, consuming 77% of the maximum student maintenance loan allowance. Fewer than 10% of beds in major university cities are affordable to students receiving maintenance loans and grants. Rental growth in purpose-built student accommodation has reached 9.4%, exacerbating the affordability challenge. Students are increasingly taking on part-time work to cover expenses, negatively impacting their studies. To address the crisis, there have been calls for increased maintenance loans, rent freezes, and rent controls.
Over 100 schools in Bristol have faced criticism for using the Think Family Education (TFE) app, which provides safeguarding leads with easy access to pupils' and their families' interactions with police, child protection, and welfare services. Staff using the app have reportedly kept it secret from parents and carers. The city council and Avon and Somerset police, who collaborated on the system, maintain that the app is meant to protect children and is not secretive, with information about its existence publicly available. Critics argue that most parents are unaware of the app's existence, and that it should be shut down to prevent the profiling and criminalisation of children. The app draws data from the Think Family database, which contains information from around 50,000 families in Bristol, collected from various agencies. It uses ‘targeted analytics’ to identify children at risk of exploitation, though critics argue it may disproportionately affect children from minority ethnic or disadvantaged backgrounds.
A recent report conducted by consultancy Public First highlights a ‘seismic shift’ in parental views on daily school attendance since the Covid pandemic. The factors contributing to this shift include the cost of living crisis, increased mental health concerns among students, and a more holistic approach to daily life. The research reveals that before the pandemic daily school attendance was seen as a fundamental aspect of good parenting. However, post-Covid, parents no longer view it in the same light, considering school attendance as one of several competing options or demands on their child. This shift is exemplified by a significant number of parents taking their children on holiday during term time, which is now considered socially acceptable. The report recommends the abolition of fines for school absences, citing their ineffectiveness in changing parental behaviour and their detrimental impact on school-parent relationships. It also advocates for increased investment in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to improve attendance.
As the new school year begins in Germany, the biggest problem is still the nationwide shortage of teachers. This could be remedied, for example by employing career changers, having larger classes, and using more hybrid lessons (partly online). But this increases the risk that the existing teachers may suffer illness or even resign and makes the general atmosphere and conditions for the students to learn well in lessons more challenging. In addition, due to measures introduced during the Covid crisis, learning deficiencies and mental illnesses have increased significantly among children and young people. The fear of being infected by Covid has now been replaced by fears about climate change and the apocalypse (the world coming to an end). These take away motivation and willingness to learn. The building of a world for tomorrow requires not only discipline, but above all a vision.
A total of 104 government and private higher education institutions in Sudan, as well as research centres and the National Fund for Student Welfare have been damaged or destroyed since April, when the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces became embroiled in a war. All institutions in Khartoum state, where the capital is also located, as well as several in other states, have been affected. The scale of destruction in Sudan’s higher education sector was posted on Facebook on 27 August by the country’s ministry of higher education and scientific research. The ministry’s own offices were damaged in a fire that affected several floors. After several years of disruption because of political volatility and the pandemic, UNICEF has launched the Learning Passport, an online and offline e-learning platform, almost free of charge, to enable schoolchildren to take part in flexible learning in different parts of Sudan.
As families navigate the start of school, the Church of England has released a statement following news that 156 schools are at risk of collapsing because a type of concrete known as 'RAAC' was used in their construction. 52 buildings could suddenly collapse, and action was immediately taken to make them safe by propping up the concrete. The other 104 are scrambling to put safety measures in place and stay open. Schools with RAAC and no safety measures prepared must close, with pupils relocated to temporary facilities or pandemic-style online learning reintroduced. The CofE education office, which is in contact with government ministers and the Department for Education on this matter, is ensuring that dioceses are aware of the situation where it affects their schools. It says, ‘We are in close communication with them about any needed mitigations or contingency measures.’ See also
Unipol says student housing shortages will get worse in some cities. The number of new purpose-built rooms being created is tumbling, despite student numbers growing. Keira Barber, 18, says she had to switch universities because she was unable to afford accommodation at her first choice. Universities say they always try to help because housing issues are a significant worry. Some universities have struggled to provide a room near campus for new students, offering them housing in neighbouring cities instead. Most student accommodation is now built and rented by the private sector, and Unipol keeps a register of the number of rooms as part of a voluntary code of conduct. The creation of new student rooms is grinding to a halt because of high building costs. 29,048 new student rooms were created in 2020, but only 13,543 this year. Some were old buildings brought back into use.
The number of students choosing Religious Studies in A-level has fallen, following warnings of a lack of teachers. More than a quarter of pupils have been given either an A or A* - down by 9% compared with 2022. The fall follows a campaign to recruit a new generation of RE teachers, with the Religious Education Council warning that due to shortages in specialist teachers some schools in the Midlands and northeast are struggling to offer the A-level subject. For two decades, A-level RS has had growing numbers of entries and impressive results, opening a world of opportunity, particularly for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, providing access to top universities and careers in law, journalism and teaching. That legacy is now threatened. A teacher training bursary scheme and a fair allocation of resources to the subject would help to reverse this trend.
GMB Scotland have announced that school staff in catering, cleaning, pupil support, administration and janitorial services will strike on 13 and 14 September, and teachers in the Unite Union have also voted to strike over pay after the summer break - dates not yet confirmed. GMB members rejected a 5.5% pay offer in April, saying it is not close to matching the cost of living, and warned of disruption in schools. They are giving plenty of warning of strike dates, insisting that there is still time to resolve the dispute, and knowing that even the possibility of strikes closing schools is a powerful weapon. Last year’s council pay dispute led to rubbish building up in city streets. A settlement was made possible after the government gave councils more money to help them increase their pay offer. So far, council body Cosla has not asked the government for more money for pay.
The Department for Education confirmed that the drop of top A-level grades by nearly 10% from last year is the biggest ever, causing chaos for those hoping to secure a university place. 19,000 students who were not accepted scrambled for clearing places, causing the UCAS website to crash. Welsh and Northern Ireland A-level students were given advance information about topics to expect in their exam papers. English students were not given the same support. Ofqual said it built protection into the English grading process because of the disruption that students had faced. This should have enabled students to get the grades they would have received before the pandemic even if the quality of their work was a bit weaker due to disruption. The Association of School and College Leaders said the ‘sharp fall’ in high A-level results was because the grading system was adjusted. Pray for the fearful and disappointed students who have not secured their first choice of university or college.