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An education sector roundup

Teacher shortage

2018 saw the demand for teachers soar and it’s estimated that 20% of all teaching roles currently go unfilled. Does 2019 bring brighter news for the teaching shortage? It is projected that 50,000 more teachers are needed to fill spaces by 2024. In the academic year 2017/18 the pressure proved too much for some teachers, with 3,750 teachers being signed off with long-term sickness, a 5% rise from the previous year’s figures.

The growing gap

The pay gap has been an issue of discussion throughout 2018. Unfortunately, this issue didn’t escape the education sector and was especially prominent in universities. 2018 revealed that on average women working in universities earned 37.7% less than their male colleagues. However, recent data has found that this issue surpasses gender. In November Russell Group universities came under scrutiny for their ethnic minority pay gap, which showed that black and Arab academics earn an average of 26% less than white colleagues. We can assume that this issue will be a top topic of discussion in 2019.

The decline in apprenticeships

Following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, apprenticeship numbers have reduced by almost a quarter. Skills minister Anne Milton admits that the government is evaluating the apprenticeship budget, reporting that budget is set to be overspent by £0.5 billion due the growing numbers of expensive apprenticeship management schemes.

Budget cuts

Since 2015 the government has been issued a £2.8 billion budget cut on the education system. However, this year budgets have allocated an extra £400m for schools to spend on supplies. Chancellor Phillip Hammond has come under scrutiny recently for stating that schools have been given money to spend on those “little extras” including whiteboards and computers.

Higher education strikes

Strike action hit 65 universities around the UK this year, following staff voting to accept an offer to reopen negotiations regarding pensions. Across the country 110,000 members of the UCU (University and College Union) conducted a 14-day strike between February 22nd to March 20th, the longest strike in UK higher education history. These strikes affected more than a million students, a YouGov poll found that 61% of students supported the strikes.  

Looking forward

While we don’t have a magic ball, we do have some predictions for 2019.

Teachers & establishments can anticipate an increased focus on mental health across UK schools in 2019. Under new government regulations mental health education will be a mandatory part of primary and secondary school curriculum by autumn 2020. Currently one in 10 students suffer from mental health issues including anxiety and depression. The government is hoping to tackle this by raising awareness and removing the stigmatism that currently surrounds mental health.

Schools & teachers should expect to see an increase in budget cuts despite the government forecast to increase spend by £38 billion. It’s estimated that schools are going to have to save £3 billion within the years of 2019/20 to survive the increase in staff wages and pension schemes.

Prepare for the digital age! Interactive classrooms are already knocking around but 2019 is their year, 9 out of 10 students believe that using technology in the classroom will prepare them for the digital future. Digital trends including virtual reality, personalised learning and online homework are set to become more popular this year.

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