21st December 2017
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
'Private schools want to do more to boost social mobility'
The private schools sector has said it will provide 10,000 places for disadvantaged children – why hasn't this offer been taken up, asks one independent school head.
Independent schools offer increasingly significant numbers of bursary places that have made a life-changing difference to beneficiaries. Some are even what I describe as offering up to 110 per cent of school fees, meaning that they also come with a uniform grant, paid-for travel, school meals and with help for school trips. In those cases, it is actually less expensive to attend an independent school than a local state school.
Shaun Fenton, headmaster of Reigate Grammar School explains that independent schools can never be a wholesale solution; as they educate just 6 per cent of the population, and so can only do “our bit.”
“Of course, independent schools want to do more. Last year, working alongside other HMC and ISC schools, we made a proposal to ministers: we would provide 10,000 school places to children from disadvantaged homes at no additional cost to the taxpayer compared to finding those children places in existing state schools. The places would be part-funded by state funding allocated to that child (circa £5,500), with the remainder being made up by the schools themselves through their other fee income or alumni fundraising.
That offer is still on the table.
So far, the Social Mobility Commission has, in effect, kicked the opportunity to make more of a difference into the long grass and, by not supporting our proposal, has prevented thousands of children enjoying the benefits that an independent school education provides. We want to work in partnership, sharing pedagogy, educational innovation and opening up places in our schools to promote life-changing social mobility. We want to be part of the solution to creating more places in successful schools, where those places are targeted at improving social mobility – wherever those schools are found.”
Mindfulness boosts student mental health during exams, study finds
Mindfulness training helps build resilience in university students and improve their mental health, particularly during stressful summer exams, according to research from the University of Cambridge.
The study, which involved just over 600 Cambridge students, concluded that the introduction of eight-week mindfulness courses in UK universities could help prevent mental illness and boost students’ wellbeing at a time of growing concern about mental health in the higher education sector.
University mental health services have experienced a huge surge in demand, with the number of students accessing counselling rising by 50% between 2010 and 2015, exceeding growth in student numbers during the same period.
According to the study, published in the journal The Lancet Public Health, the prevalence of mental illness among first-year undergraduates is lower than among the general population, but it exceeds levels in the general population during the second year of university.
“Given the increasing demands on student mental health services, we wanted to see whether mindfulness could help students develop preventative coping strategies,” said Géraldine Dufour, one of the report’s authors and the head of Cambridge’s counselling service.
Mindfulness, an increasingly popular method of training attention on the present moment, has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Until now, however, there has been little robust evidence on its effectiveness in supporting students’ mental health.
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