The Sprint Education edu-news roundup - the topics on teachers’ minds now

The Sprint Education edu-news roundup - the topics on teachers’ minds now

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Rebecca McGilvray
Published: 9th January 2020

Students closing the book on English

The number of students taking A levels in English Language, English Literature, and the combined qualification dropped by 31% according to the Joint Council for Qualifications between 2012 and 2019.

According to, teachers are citing the content of the reformed GCSEs, updated as part of Michael Gove’s revamp of qualifications in 2015, as increasing the decline in entries to the subject with teachers describing the GCSE syllabus as “dry” and “uninspiring”.

Expectations under a new Conservative government


The Government has announced that school budgets will increase by £7.1 billion by 2022-23. Schools will receive new minimum per-pupil funding rates of £5,000 for secondary schools and £3,750 for primary schools.

However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that the school spending plans amount to just £4.3 billion extra funding in real-terms, and just before Christmas, the Education Policy Institute reported that more than 28% of England’s secondary schools reported deficits last year.

No-notice inspections:

An election pledge from Boris Johnson to introduce no-notice inspections was not mentioned in the Queen’s speech just before Christmas. However, it was a key pledge during his campaign that clearly looked to bolster Ofsted’s power in stark contrast to Labour’s pledge to end Ofsted inspections.

Teachers argue that their introduction will be operationally impractical, with inspectors potentially arriving for inspections when key senior members of staff are not on site. They also argue that no-notice inspections imply that teachers are not to be trusted and that the inspections are there to catch them out rather than help them identify problems and assist in resolving them.

Recruiting and retaining teachers:

The UK Government has pledged to increase teacher starting salaries to £30,000. Teacher recruitment targets have been missed for six consecutive years. This increase in starter salary is seen as the first step in making the career more attractive to graduates.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said, "I want the best talent to be drawn to the teaching profession and for schools to compete with the biggest employers in the labour market and recruit the brightest and the best into teaching."

35% drop in take-up of arts GCSE subjects since 2010

A recent report released by the Cultural Learning Alliance shows that there has been a sharp decline in pupils studying arts subjects over the last decade. The government target to get 75% of students taking the EBacc subject combination by 2022, which excludes arts subjects, has been cited as one of the reasons for the decline.

The Tate and successful British artist Steve McQueen have called for action and that additional funding for an “arts premium” for secondary schools, proposed by the Conservatives in their election manifesto, be implemented as a matter of urgency.

Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate, said “Access to the visual arts in this country must not depend on social and economic advantage. Private schools place a premium on a rich cultural education for their pupils while many state schools are starved of the resources to support access to culture and creativity for their pupils.”

The takeaways:

  • Finding resources that will engage students within the remit of the curriculum and exam board requirements will always be a priority for teachers. If your resources and products do that, don’t just tell them, show them. Offering free samples and taster sessions will help to convince teachers of the difference your business can make to their students.
  • Whilst the Government’s headlines regarding funding might sound incredibly positive, the general mood amongst educators is a little less enthusiastic. Many schools are predicting that the increase won’t make up for the last decade of austerity, so tread lightly when mentioning the increase in funding in your marketing.
  • Your marketing will need to work extra hard to find space in squeezed funding areas such as the arts. Use case studies and testimonials to build trust and highlight why teachers should invest their limited budget with you.

See you next month for more edu-news!

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