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Willetts slams May over 96,000 foreign students claim

Home Secretary Theresa May has been criticised by a former colleague for using "unreliable" statistics to call for tougher restrictions on foreign students coming to Britain to study.

David Willetts and Theressa May Credit: Tim Goode/EMPICS Entertainment/John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Ex-universities minister David Willetts took exception to Mrs May's claim that 96,000 more students were arriving in the country each year than were leaving.

In an article for the Sunday Times, Mrs May wrote: "The gap between the number of non-EU students coming to this country and departing each year is 96,000 - half the net migration from beyond the EU."

But Mr Willetts - who left government last year and is soon to join the House of Lords - said the figure was "not a solid basis for policy".

People who come here to study should study, perhaps do some post study work and then go back to their country...We are selling them a service, we reap a lot of benefits from that, but studying in Britain is not and should not be a means to settlement. My disagreement I'm afraid is that the particular figures that were being cited ... for number of students staying on is very unreliable. It is a widely disputed and doubted figure and would not be a solid basis for policy.

– David Willetts

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Government childcare proposals 'unaffordable'

Childcare providers are warning the Government's election pledge to double the amount of free childcare to 30 hours per week is unrealistic.

The Government has asked providers to come forward with ideas on how to implement the proposals but as one Nursery head told ITV News, they simply could not afford to.

Childcare providers' concerns are backed up by the Pre-School Learning Alliance which says the average hourly cost per child is £4.53, of which the government on average contributes £3.88.

If the number of hours doubled it warns the shortfall could be as much as £250 million shortfall, meaning nurseries would make an annual loss of equating to £661 per child.

ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan reports

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Call for first childcare providers to offer 30hrs free a week

Childcare providers and local councils are being urged to step up to become the first in the country to offer 30 hours of free childcare a week.

From next September, the amount of free care available to parents will double from the current level of 15 hours - and government ministers say they want to hear plans for how the new offer will be provided.

Parents will be able to claim 30 hours of free childcare a week from next September Credit: PA

It comes as new figures show more than 80 per cent of working parents would take up an extended offer of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds should it be available now.

Previously, free care has only been offered to under-threes.

For too long, rising childcare costs have been a barrier to working parents, and particularly mothers.

This government is on the side of hard-working people - that is why this time next year we'll see the first families benefit from the government's offer of 30 hours of free childcare for working parents.

Today, we're calling on providers to tell us how they can offer innovative, high-quality childcare that helps parents return to work while keeping more of their hard-earned money in their back pocket.

– Nicky Morgan, Education Minister

Schools 'should be fined for students' exam failures'

Secondary schools should be fined for every student who fails to achieve at least a C in English and maths at GCSE, a think tank has said.

The "re-sit levy" would be passed on to further education colleges, the Policy Exchange suggested, which currently do not receive extra funding for remedial classed but are forced to deal with large numbers of young people having to re-take the two key qualifications.

A think tank has suggested schools be fined for each pupil who fails to get a C in GCSE maths or English Credit: PA

According to a report by the think tank, in 2013 almost five times the number of students re-sitting English did so at a further education college than at a school - a total of 100,239 students compared to 20,544.

Headteachers have said such a plan would be an "own goal" as some students, for a variety of reasons, will never be able to get a C or higher in those subjects.

We agree that these students need continued help and support in English and maths post-16, and that FE colleges and other providers should receive the funding they need to deliver these courses. However, the idea of a resit levy on the secondary schools where these students first took their GCSEs would be an own goal.

Schools are already facing real-terms cuts in their budgets and unprecedented difficulties in recruiting staff, particularly maths teachers.

A resit levy would potentially worsen this situation, further reducing their capacity to put in place the very provision that would enable them to meet the challenge of enabling more pupils to achieve these grades in maths and English GCSEs.

– Brian Lightman, Association of School and College Leaders
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