England Promotes University-School Partnerships

September 12, 2016

Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, on Friday proposed requiring universities to establish a new primary or secondary school or sponsor an existing, “underperforming” school as a condition for charging higher fees. A Times Higher Education article notes that it’s unclear what the government means by “higher fees,” but a press release from the prime minister’s office appears to suggest that the requirement would apply to any university that charges fees above a basic tuition threshold currently set at 6,000 pounds, or about $7,960.

“Under the new arrangements, universities would be expected to use their educational expertise to do more to raise standards in schools. This will create a talent pipeline, through which pupils from all backgrounds will have a greater opportunity to get the grades and skills they need to go on to university, and help universities in their efforts to widen participation of lower-income students,” the press release from May’s office said. The release notes that “[a] number” of universities have already established schools or partnered with existing ones.

“Universities already work closely with schools and colleges to raise aspirations and attainment,” Julia Goodfellow, the president of Universities UK and vice chancellor of the University of Kent, said in a statement responding to the government’s plans. “This ranges from outreach programs and summer schools to curriculum improvement, working with teachers, and providing information on progression to higher education.”

Goodfellow said that about half of all English universities sponsor a school. “How this is done will vary enormously and depend on the university and on different local circumstances,” she said. “It is important that any new proposals allow universities the flexibility to consider the evidence and target funding in a way that works best for the school and students to help raise attainment.”

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