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Nick Clegg launches school careers talk volunteer scheme

Nick Clegg launches school careers talk volunteer scheme

guardian.co.uk |by Andrew Sparrow on July 1, 2012

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg says the ‘power of making connections that inspire young people is immeasurable’. Photograph: Rex Features

Workers willing to give careers talks to pupils are being encouraged to volunteer via a scheme being launched by Nick Clegg.

The initiative is designed to help state schools match those in the independent sector, where 80% of pupils regularly hear talks about career opportunities from external speakers.

Research for the Education and Employers Taskforce, a charity running the scheme, suggests pupils who have contact with employers at school will go on to earn 16% more on average than pupils who do not have the same opportunities.

Clegg said: “Too many young people get the message that the best jobs are not for them. Inspiring the Future will give state school students the chance to see, hear and make a connection with someone in a career or job they might not have thought about.

“Today we’re calling on doctors, nurses, lawyers, builders, businesspeople, civil servants, farmers, mechanics, engineers and other working people to give up just an hour of their time to talk to students in their local state school about how they got where they are today. The power of making connections that inspire young people is immeasurable and can be life-changing.”

Volunteers and schools can register at inspiringthefuture.org. Organisers aim to recruit 100,000 volunteers.

Sir Roger Carr, president of the CBI, one of the organisations supporting the scheme, said: “There is nothing more compelling for young people thinking about their future careers than meeting and speaking to inspirational people who do the jobs they are considering.”

Clegg is launching the scheme at an event in Tower Hamlets, London, attended by some of initiative’s celebrity backers including the actor Joanna Lumley, the businesswoman and Apprentice star Karren Brady and the head chef at the Ivy, Gary Lee.

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Free nursery education ‘to be made more flexible’

Free nursery education ‘to be made more flexible’

BBC |May 30, 2012

By Katherine Sellgren BBC News education reporter
_

Rules governing the way free nursery school education in England is delivered are to be changed, making it easier for parents to take up places.

Under plans announced by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, parents will be able to spread their free nursery place over two days rather than three.

Mr Clegg will also announce 10 pilot areas where disadvantaged two-year-olds will get a free place from September.

Councils and nurseries say the plans require proper funding.

Currently, about 800,000 three- and four-year-olds in England take up 15 hours of free education a week.

Mr Clegg says that from September, the hours during which parents can drop their children with early years education providers for their free place will be extended by two hours.

At present, parents are restricted by having to drop their children off no earlier than 0800 and picking them up no later than 1800 – these hours will be extended to 0700-1900.

Under the current rules, the free 15-hour nursery entitlement can only be used over a minimum of three days, meaning parents can only leave their children for five hours a day.

Mr Clegg says this is not flexible enough for parents who work part time, and that parents will be able to use the 15 hours over two days.

There will also be revised statutory guidance making it clear that parents do not have to pay to use their child’s free early years place, following concerns that some free places were being made conditional on parents being able to make additional payments.

Disadvantaged children

Plans to give 15 hours of free pre-school education a week to some 260,000 two-year-olds from poorer homes, first announced under Labour, will be extended nationwide from September 2013.

But Mr Clegg is announcing 10 pilot areas for this scheme from September 2012, benefiting 1,000 children in 10 neighbourhoods.

Under the scheme, the 20% most deprived children in those areas will be eligible.

The trial neighbourhoods are in Blackpool, Cornwall, Greenwich, Kent (Ashford), Lancashire (Preston), Lambeth, Newcastle, Northamptonshire (Wellingborough), Peterborough and Rotherham.

Mr Clegg said: “We’re revolutionising the early start our children get in life – there will be more free childcare, it will be higher quality, and it will be more flexible for parents.

“By getting things right from the off, we’re making sure our youngsters are ready to learn when they start school so that they get the most out of their education.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) welcomed the announcement, but said the expansion of early years education must be met with proper capital funding.

David Simmonds, chairman of LGA’s children and young people board, said: ” It’s achievable as it currently stands.

“But as it expands to all parents, there will be a need for building additional capacity.”

The chief executive National Day Nurseries Association, Purnima Tanuku, said: “The funding allocated to early years provision must cover costs, otherwise it is not sustainable for many nurseries to participate in the free entitlement, without pushing up the price of paid-for care for other parents.

“It is vital that nursery costs are covered to ensure there are the 260,000 additional places for two-year-olds, which are needed by September 2014, can be created.”

‘Well-qualified staff’

The shadow minister for children and families, Sharon Hodgson, said the government should develop a comprehensive plan for childcare.

“While children’s centres are closing or having their budgets squeezed, ministers must be clear about how they are going to ensure that there are enough well-qualified staff and accommodation in order to provide good quality care for an extra 260,000 children.

“There are real concerns for families, as nurseries begin charging top-up fees, children’s centres funding is slashed, and family tax credits are being cut.”

The Daycare Trust welcomed the changes, saying increased flexibility over the number of days and hours benefited the whole family.

Chief executive Anand Shukla said: “Parents, particularly those working in part-time roles, will be able to use their hours at the time that works best for them.”

How Can We Increase Social Mobility?

Clegg: Social mobility ‘vital’ for UK economy

It was announced on 22nd May 2012 that the government is to publish an annual “snapshot” of social mobility, by measuring information such as educational achievement, access to professions and birth weights. In making the announcement, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that being able to advance at work and in learning was a “vital ingredient” of the UK’s economic success. Wasted talent was a “crime” which hurt society, he added.

Labour claim that social mobility is going backwards under the present administration while campaigners claim that social mobility in the UK has reduced since the 1960s. It has reached the stage where the government has commissioned former Labour Health Secretary Alan Milburn to investigate the issue. Mr Clegg said

“I strongly believe that opening up our society is a vital ingredient in our future productivity. Wasted talent is always a moral crime, but it is increasingly an economic crime too. The Sutton Trust’s own work has suggested that boosting poor educational attainment up to the UK average would increase GDP by £140bn by 2050, and increase long-run trend growth by 0.4 percentage points. Social mobility is a long-term growth strategy.”

The government will publish an annual set of 17 indicators which will include the proportion of children under five on free school meals achieving a “good level of development” compared with other children, attainment at age 16 of those eligible for free school meals and higher education enrolment by social background.

Is Social Mobility Declining?

The sad reality is, that for all the government rhetoric about improving social mobility and ensuring that the circumstances of your birth shouldn’t matter, they do. And unless there is a seismic shift in the mindset of those who are in a position to make the necessary changes and that of the general population genuine social mobility will never exist. It is unfair therefore, to lay this problem entirely at the door of the coalition government. This problem has been building for many decades if one takes the parliamentary political arena as an example. The first British Prime Minister to be recognised as such was Sir Robert Walpole who served from 1721 to 1742. In the subsequent centuries we have had 55 Premiers and of these 41 or 75% studied at Oxford or Cambridge. In addition 19 or 34% have been old Etonians including David Cameron our current leader. And if that wasn’t of enough concern the recent steps have been backwards even if it did appear for a while, during the latter half of the 20th Century, that we were making positive strides. From 1964 to 1997 all our elected leaders from Harold Wilson to John Major were educated in state schools. This changed with Tony Blair and we have been served by privately educated men for the past 15 years. In addition, within the current administration:

  • 50% of our cabinet were privately educated
  • 2/3rds of the 119 Ministers in the coalition were privately educated
  • There are currently 20 old Etonians in Parliament of whom 8 are in cabinet

Within wider Parliament 33% of all MPs currently sitting in the House of Commons were educated in public schools compared with just 7% of the general population. Furthermore, if we look at the leaders of the three main parties we see the following:

  • David Cameron: Prime Minister – Privately Educated and Oxbridge
  • Nick Clegg: Deputy Prime Minster – Privately Educated and Oxbridge
  • George Osborne: Chancellor of the Exchequer – Privately Educated and Oxbridge
  • Ed Miliband: Leader of the Opposition – State Educated and Oxbridge
  • Ed Balls: Shadow Chancellor – Privately Educated and Oxbridge

Consequently, social mobility has been in decline for some time and this has been exacerbated by the increase in Conservative MPs at the 2010 election as higher proportions of them will have been privately and Oxbridge educated compared with Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

How Can We Increase Social Mobility?

There is no easy answer to this as there are almost certainly many factors that prevent it. But the first point of reference would appear to be an examination of the changes in the educational system from the decades immediately preceding Harold Wilson’s Premiership through to Tony Blair taking office. In addition it may be worthwhile looking at each of their family backgrounds and educations for common factors.

Secondly, we need to change our own mind-sets. Whilst it is much harder for state educated men and women to achieve high office it is not impossible. If 33% of MPs are privately educated 67% are not and if 75% of Prime Ministers have been privately educated 25% have been educated in state schools. Furthermore, if Oxford and Cambridge are accepting a disproportionately high number of public school students by rejecting large numbers of equally qualified state school students as we know they are then we must examine what suitable discrimination laws can be brought to bear. Recent figures show that between 2007 and 2009 four public schools sent 946 pupils to Oxbridge compared with 927 pupils being sent by 2,000 state schools. Whilst, it is fair to say that public school pupils are in a position to receive a good standard of education is also certain that there are many thousands of equally talented young people who never achieve their potential in society because their parents cannot afford the public school fees. And that does not allow for a true meritocracy.

Finally, we have, as a result of living in a monarchy for the last 1,000 years (with the exception of the interregnum), come to accept without question that those who rule over us are there because they are the best people to do so when the reality is that they rule by birth right regardless of merit. This point is raised not to discuss the controversial topic surrounding the pros and cons of the monarchy but merely to highlight an element of the British and in particular English psyche. That is an inherent unflinching belief, albeit subconscious, that there is a ruling class in this nation who are born to oversee things and the rest of us cannot possibly hope to aspire to political power even if we don’t agree that they always know best. And it does seem that there are two parts to this ruling class, the aristocracy whose power seems to be diminishing and the financial elite who can afford to educate their sons and daughters in the right schools. This results in an elite few who continue to hold the reins of power because they have the money to maintain their authority.

We must therefore, teach our children that all men and women are equal, regardless of financial status and inspire them to reach their goal in life no-matter how impossible it may be. If we don’t it will be bad for the economy but not in the way envisaged by Nick Clegg. It will be because the real talent who can bring our great country out of recession and create a fairer society for all will remain outside Westminster looking in and never have the opportunity to play their part in making things better.

In the meantime we must hope beyond hope that this government really does wish to improve social mobility and await the outcome of the report with interest.

Clegg: Social mobility ‘vital’ for UK economy

Clegg: Social mobility ‘vital’ for UK economy

BBC |May 22, 2012

The government is to publish an annual“snapshot” of social mobility, by measuring information such as educational achievement, access to professions and birth weights.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said being able to advance at work and in learning was a “vital ingredient” of the UK’s economic success.

Wasted talent was a “crime” which hurt society, he added.

But Labour said life chances were going “backwards” under the coalition.

Campaigners claim that social mobility in the UK has reduced since the 1960s. The government has commissioned former Labour Health Secretary Alan Milburn to investigate the issue.

At a conference organised by the Sutton Trust, which promotes educational opportunities for young people from underprivileged backgrounds, Mr Clegg called for “a more dynamic society: one where what matters most is the person you become, not the person you were born”.

‘Speaking up’He dismissed as a “myth” the idea that social mobility can increase only during times of economic prosperity, saying: “I strongly believe that opening up our society is a vital ingredient in our future productivity. Wasted talent is always a moral crime, but it is increasingly an economic crime too.

“The Sutton Trust’s own work has suggested that boosting poor educational attainment up to the UK average would increase GDP by £140bn by 2050, and increase long-run trend growth by 0.4 percentage points. Social mobility is a long-term growth strategy.”

He announced the annual publication of a set of 17 indicators to monitor “how well the government is doing in making society fairer”.

These include the proportion of children under five on free school meals achieving a “good level of development” compared with other children, attainment at age 16 of those eligible for free school meals and higher education enrolment by social background.

Birth weight will also be measured. Babies from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be underweight and this has been associated with “a wide range of poor educational and health outcomes later in life”, the government says.

It adds that this will be the first time such information has been published by any government in the world.

Mr Clegg argued that life chances could not be evened out simply by reducing inequality, pointing to Australia and Canada as examples of countries with a similar gap between the rich and the poor as the UK but much better levels of social mobility.

He described suggestions that the government was trying to“socially engineer” as “nonsense”.

Mr Clegg, who attended a top public school, added: “I know some people will say I should keep quiet about social mobility, that my birth, my education, and my opportunities mean I have no right to speak up. I couldn’t disagree more.

“If people like me who have benefited from the system don’t speak up, we will never get anywhere.”

Speaking at the same conference on Monday, Labour leader Ed Miliband criticised the government’s record on social mobility.

He said: “Tackling social mobility is a huge mountain to climb and the last Labour government took some important steps.

“But this government seems to think we can let those at the top take whatever rewards they think fit and somehow everyone else can just play catch-up.”

Nick Clegg attacks the rift between state and private schools’ A-level results

Nick Clegg attacks the rift between state and private schools’ A-level results

guardian.co.uk |by Toby Helm

  • Toby Helm
  • The Observer, Saturday 19 May 2012
Multiple-choice exam questions

Private school pupils are three times as likely to get top grades at A level, a new report reveals. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Pupils at private schools are more than three times as likely to get AAB in the key A level subjects that help candidates gain access to top universities as those in state schools, according to the first analysis of its kind released by the government.

The figures have been made public by Nick Clegg as part of a new initiative to promote “social mobility” to be unveiled by the deputy prime minister on Tuesday. The government looked at those attaining AAB at A level in subjects identified by the Russell Group as “facilitating” entry to their universities –including English literature, maths, physics, languages and history.

Under a new social mobility “tracking” system, the relative numbers achieving these grades in private and state schools will be published annually, as will a series of other indicators including access to early years education and entry to the professions.

Clegg said there was a “great rift in our education system between our best schools, most of which are private, and the schools ordinary families rely on. That is corrosive for our society and damaging to our economy.”

He added: “We do need to ensure that our school system as a whole promotes fairness and mobility, that it heals the rift in opportunities. We are committed to narrowing the gap in our school system – state and private – and ensuring that all children are given the chance to rise. The way to do that is to make the state education system better – to level up –and ensure that anyone can get ahead.”

In an article in today’s Observer ahead of an international summit on social mobility being hosted by the Sutton Trust, its chairman Sir Peter Lampl says “education reform still holds the key to breaking the cycle of low mobility”.

Nick Clegg to propose £10,000 prize to boost schools’ performance

Nick Clegg to propose £10,000 prize to boost schools’ performance

guardian.co.uk |by Rajeev Syal

  • Rajeev Syal
  • The Guardian, Sunday 13 May 2012
Nick Clegg

The pupil premium was one of Nick Clegg’s flagship policies during the 2010 election campaign. Photograph: Getty Images

Schools will be asked to compete to find the best way of spending government money –and could win an extra £10,000 for being one of the country’s top performers, Nick Clegg will tell teachers on Monday.

Additional cash awards will be handed out to 50 schools as the government seeks to introduce an added incentive for those receiving the “pupil premium”.

The money is part of the deputy prime minister’s plan to break the grip of private schools on the British establishment as he seeks a boost to social mobility. But the plan is expected to be condemned by teaching unions, who will claim it fails to address inequalities between state and private education.

Clegg will set out his proposals by telling educators he wants to “strike a deal between the coalition government and our schools and teachers”.

Other proposals include funding £500 per pupil for summer schools to bridge the gap between primary and secondary education, and incentives for teachers to work in schools with large numbers of disadvantaged pupils. The School Teachers Review Body will be asked to look at giving maintained schools the same flexibility that academies have to offer extra pay to hold on to the best teachers.

The pupil premium is an additional sum of money– £488 last year– paid to schools for each child on free school meals. But the cash is not ringfenced, so once schools are handed the money by central government, there is no requirement to spend it in a specific way.

This year it is £600 for each child and the total spent by 2015 will be £2.5bn a year, spread across 1.8 million children.

Clegg will set out his plans at a primary school in Islington, north London. He will say, “We’ve made the case for the pupil premium. We’ve won the battle to get it properly funded. Today I want to talk about how we make it a success because we now have a once in a generation chance.

“Get this right and we make good on education’s progressive promise: to give every child the chance to go as far as their abilities and effort can carry them. And we’ll achieve something else of lasting importance: we’ll prove that teachers do best when Whitehall steps out of the way.

“To that end, I want to strike a deal between the coalition government and our schools and teachers. We’ll give you the cash; we’ll give you the freedom; we’ll reward and celebrate your success. But in return, we want you to redouble your efforts to closing the gap between your poorer pupils and everyone else. We won’t be telling you what to do, but we will be watching what you achieve.”

Clegg will say different schools will spend the money in different ways and Whitehall will not micromanage the pupil premium. But the government will research the best uses of the money and “ensure the evidence is spread through the system”, he will add.

Clegg campaigned in the 2010 general election with the pupil premium as one of his flagship policies of his manifesto.

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