My last post but one was about the prospects (or not) of entry to university for young people in England. The overall message was that there are a range of factors which will determine whether and how this happens, and clearly it will not be available to all who may deserve it. This was based on Government data recently made public about destinations of school and college students in England.
This week the Sutton Trust has published a revised ‘Tool Kit’ showing the expected impact of a range of possible interventions in education. Evidence collated by the Trust from a teacher survey seemed to indicate that schools receiving the Pupil Premium (for less well off children) were planning to spend it on interventions that would have lower potential impact. An example of a high impact intervention is the provision of feedback by teachers on their students’ progress, whereas as a low impact one includes grouping students by ability, which has become a key feature of much of English education in the core subjects of mathematics and English.
Curiously there is little mention of investment in high quality information, advice and guidance (IAG) within schools, which can open up access to a range of routes to the professions and so increase social mobility. This will become even more critical from September onwards when there will be limited government funding for IAG, as has been recognised this week by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee in its report on STEM Higher Education.
Finally, there is the general issue of which facts are needed to ensure that we get the best outcomes from the education system, and so the prospects of real benefits for current students. The House of Lords report asked for more data to be made available to inform a national strategy related to the role of ‘the sciences’ (which could be extended to other analytical disciplines) as enabling or facilitating subjects. But this could also be linked to a focus on the additional ‘soft’ skills acquired by students performing a sport to a high level.
The legacy of the London Olympics, which officially opens today, could then have a real impact on the future career prospects of all young people during what will surely be difficult times for them.