Policy Watch

Education’s always changing, and it can be hard to keep track. Policy Watch is the easy way to make sure you stay up to date with the latest developments.

Keep up with what’s happening in education policy

Policy Watch is our regular policy update service, covering national and international developments in the world of education. We try to keep things simple, sharing the latest news and information with you through weekly updates, monthly summaries, papers and events.

You can access the Policy Watch service through Steve's Twitter feed @SteveBesley or by signing up for email updates.

About Steve

As head of UK education policy at Pearson, Steve’s been running the Policy Watch service for almost 20 years. He’ll keep you informed on all things education, along with the rest of his subscribers – there were more than 10,000 at the last count!

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  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in December 2014

    Some important announcements this month on careers, a College of Teaching, qualification development and performance, and HE but it’s the Autumn Statement at the start of the month that provides the strongest messages for next year and beyond 

    Key headlines from the month

    • KS2 tests. The DfE confirm summer test results 
    • SEND. The government puts more money in to support the new special needs system
    • GCSE Science. Ofquals consults on assessments of practicals
    • GCSEs in Hist, Geog, Ancient, Modern Languages. Ofqual consults on regulations
    • Maths. Government confirms introduction of maths/further maths A/AS deferred to Sept 2017
    • Core maths. Six new quals announced
    • Character in schools. Significant announcements from all sides
    • PISA tests. 2018 tests to include digital competences
    • Exam reforms. Education Secretary tells Education Committee things are on course
    • Careers. Education Secretary announces a new independent advisory company
    • Grammar Schools. Conservative Group launches campaign for more
    • College of Teaching. The government comes out in support and launches consultation
    • Ofsted (1.) Consultation closes on proposed new common inspection framework
    • Ofsted (2.) Latest Annual Report points to ‘stalling secondaries’
    • 16-19 English and maths. The EFA update funding conditions following latest developments
    • VQs. Approved quals for Sept 2015 teaching published
    • Digital Skills. The PM announces a new College to train future digital innovators
    • QCF. Ofqual announces the timetable for dismantling
    • Apprenticeships. Target of 2m starts under this government reached
    • FE outcome measures. Further consultation due in 2015
    • National Colleges. Vince Cable announces 4 more
    • LEPs. Government publishes accountability framework
    • HE QA arrangements. Steering Group confirms discussion document due in New Year
    • Postgrads. HEFCE sets out interim funding arrangements
    • Uni research. Results of latest review exercise released

    Reports/Publications of the month (in order of publication)

    Speeches of the month

    • George Osborne’s 3 December Autumn Statement includes money for careers, postgrads and science research but warns of more cuts to come for at least the next 3 years 
    • Tristam Hunt’s 8 December Demos speech sets out Labour Party plans for helping schools and families develop character in young people
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 10 December Annual Report speech reflects on some of the reasons why primary schools are improving but secondary schools, in some areas, are struggling

    Quotes of the month

    • “The measures I announce today are not a net giveaway but actually tighten the public finances a little.” The Chancellor tightens the belt in the Autumn Statement
    • “One thing is sure-if we move in anything like this direction, whilst continuing to protect health and pensions, the role and shape of the state will have changed beyond recognition.” The IFS considers potential long-term effects of cuts on public services
    • “I’m delighted to see the QCF go.” Alison Wolf on the funeral notice for the adult qual framework
    • “Character, resilience and the ability to bounce back: it’s what makes us British.”  The Shadow Education Secretary on building character and spirit in schools
    • “Things would be healthier if we would all stop thinking about Ofsted quite so often.” The Gen Sec of the NAHT on keeping our thoughts to ourselves
    • “We don’t need more tinkering with the existing system: we need a new system.” The former High Master of St Paul’s School on what the education system really needs

    Word or phrase of the month

    • Al desco.’ Having to take lunch at your desk.
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  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in November 2014

    Very much skills month with 3 set piece Conferences, 4 major speeches and 9 reports (see below)

    Key headlines from the month

    • Early years. Practitioners call for a rethink on baseline assessment
    • Maths hubs. The Chinese ‘specialists’ start work in a number of primaries
    • RS. Consultation on new GCSE, AS, A levels launched
    • PISA tests. UK schools invited to bid to use the tests next year
    • AS. Cambridge University advises schools to use them
    • Teachers’ Workload. Evidence gathering phase closes
    • TeachFirst. Goes for push into coastal towns, primaries and STEM teachers next
    • College of Teaching. Education Secretary due to announce interest soon
    • Pupil premium. Government confirms additional funding
    • British values. The Dept issues guidelines to help schools deliver
    • Functional Skills. Minister asks ETF to consider GCSE alternatives
    • NEETs. Numbers down in latest quarterly figures
    • Traineeships. Government flexes up for 2015
    • Apprenticeships. The SFA publishes the latest guidance for trailblazers
    • Apprenticeships/Traineeships. Education Committee continues taking evidence
    • FE. The AoC issues a 10-point Manifesto for the 2015 election
    • FE inspections. Ofsted publishes latest myth buster
    • Skills. Government confirms new devolved arrangement with Greater Manchester
    • Quangos. Down by a third in latest progress report

    Reports/Publications of the month (in order of publication)

    • Engineering Skills Progress Report. BIS reports on progress made in developing partnerships and a range of school activity one year on from the landmark Perkins Review
    • Socio-economic differences in university outcomes in the UK. The Institute of Fiscal Studies crunches the data on students from poorer backgrounds and finds concerns all round
    • Greater Manchester Agreement. The government signs up to plans to devolve responsibilities in areas like business growth and skills to the Combined Authority from 2017
    • EFA Business Plan 2014-2015. The Education Funding Agency confirms priorities and headline figures in the latest version of its Business Plan
    • Student Loans: Government Response. The government stands firm in its response to the earlier Select Committee Inquiry and refuses to call for a further review of the fee loans system
    • Our impact. TeachFirst highlights the extent of its reach and impact over the last decade particularly in disadvantaged areas and gears up for more to come
    • A Better Off Britain. The CBI proposes a range of measures to help close the attainment gap in schools and raise skill levels in its latest blueprint for economic recovery
    • Licensed to Create. The RSA publishes a collection of essays from leading ‘experts’ on how best to improve teacher quality and innovation
    • SFCA Manifesto 2015. The Sixth Form Colleges’ Association calls for a re-coupling of the AS and a competitive process for establishing new sixth forms in its 2015 Manifesto brochure
    • Understanding the success of London’s Schools. Bristol University’s Research Centre offers the latest research and finds the higher aspiration of ethnic groups a key factor
    • Implementing Rigour and Responsiveness. The FE Minister updates the sector on the latest developments in his latest briefing for Governors and Principals
    • Skills beyond school. The OECD looks at post-16 vocational systems across 20 countries and stresses the importance of employer engagement, work experience and responsive quals
    • FE Commissioner’s Annual Report. The FE Commissioner issues his first annual report and lists some of the lessons learnt from interventions undertaken in eleven colleges over the year
    • Still in tune? The Skills Commission publishes the latest in a series of reports suggesting that the skills system is not fully in tune with the changing needs of the labour market
    • A roadmap for free education. The National Union of Students calls for a scrapping of fee loans in favour of greater taxation from employers and the wealthiest in society
    • Too good to fail. The HE Commission finds the current fee loan system unsustainable and lists six other funding models as possible alternatives
    • Traineeships Funding Consultation: Government Response. The government confirms it will increase the flexibility of traineeships as it responds to earlier consultation
    • Why textbooks count. Tim Oates explains why the best ones at least do and highlights the features of those used in best-performing jurisdictions
    • Growth Through People. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills adds its voice to a more employer driven system as it publishes a further report on the state of the UK skills system

    Speeches of the month

    • Nicky Morgan’s 10 November Your Life speech sets the context for this new campaign designed to raise awareness among school leavers about the importance of STEM subjects
    • Ed Miliband’s 10 November CBI Conference speech tells business leaders how a future Labour government would work with employers to create a fairer society with skills for all
    • Nick Gibb’s 12 November Reform speech espouses the virtues of school autonomy and claims that it’s helping to drive improved school performance
    • Nick Boles’ 18 November AoC speech highlights latest developments around English and maths as well as some new flexibilities for traineeship programmes
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 18 November CBI speech argues that the moment is ripe for reform of vocational education and sets out four priorities for achieving this
    • Tristram Hunt’s 19 November AoC speech ticks a number of boxes about voc quals and confirms that Labour is working on a White Paper on future reforms to the FE/voc system
    • Nick Gibb’s 20 November ‘publishers’ speech stresses the importance of high-quality school textbooks in learning and calls on publishers to stay ahead of the game
    • Glenys Stacey’s 20 November Westminster Education Forum speech puts the current A level reforms in context and explains how the accreditation process is going
    • Tristram Hunt’s 25 November Walthamstow speech calls for a new settlement between state and private schools with both sides working to new partnership arrangements
    • David Laws’ 27 November CentreForum speech calls for stronger local accountability and inspection arrangements for Academy chains
    • Nicky Morgan’s 27 November Birmingham speech sets out a new more collaborative vision of education

    Quotes of the month

    • “Education is a partnership. It isn’t a battle or a war.” The Education Secretary
    • “It’s still by no means completely sorted out but it’s a lot better than the situation we inherited.“ Francis Maude on the government’s quango reforms
    • “If we win the election, our focus will be on a revolution in vocational education and apprenticeships.” Ed Miliband addresses employers at the CBI Conference
    • “What I’ve found challenging is that you can be busy without achieving much.” The Shadow Education Minister on life in Westminster
    • “I have to admit it made me gulp when I first heard him say it.” The Skills Minister on how he felt when he first heard the Prime Minister’s target of 3m more apprentices
    • “Often it is the ad hoc verbal feedback made in a lesson that that can have the most impact.” The general secretary of the NAHT on the pressure to keep records on everything

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Scope creep.’ A project that starts looking at one thing but ends up with 100s of others.
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  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in October 2014

    Things have been pretty busy on all fronts this month as the long list of news items below indicates.

    For schools, the stand-outs include the Workload Challenge, Ofsted’s consultation on future inspection arrangements and some of the exam data now coming out. For FE, AoC’s submission to the Treasury and Glenys Stacey’s FAB speech provide useful starting points while for HE, the three Reports listed continue to mark out the agenda there. 

    Key headlines from the month

    • Early years. IFS question the value of the current entitlement
    • Primary Futures. Programme of visits by business volunteers initiated
    • Pupil motivation. EEF commissioned research shows it ain’t all about the money
    • Disadvantaged kids. The Social Mobility Commission issues 2 reports highlighting concerns
    • Absence rates. Improved and at lowest rate for 8 years
    • Exam results. Provisional figures for 2013/14 show a dip in nos reaching 5 GCSE benchmark
    • Exam appeals. Ofqual stats reveal significant rise this year
    • Maths.  Survey reveals schools planning to increase teaching time at KS3 and 4
    • Vision for literacy. Launched with cross-Party blessing
    • Careers. Further report (from Sutton Trust) highlights concerns
    • Teaching assistants. Independent review set up to develop professional standards
    • Teacher Workloads. Politicians from all sides show support
    • Ofsted. Consultation begins on new inspection arrangements
    • Inspections. Ofsted shatters myths about lesson observations and other alleged requirements
    • Underperforming schools. The PM looks to grant Regional Commissioners new powers
    • Free schools. 35 more approved
    • Trojan schools. Ofsted reports only slow progress
    • 16-19 participation. Public Accounts Committee announces new inquiry
    • Funding. EFA publish initial arrangements for 16-19 yr olds for 2015/16
    • Functional Skills. Minister makes welcoming noises
    • ESOL. The SFA confirms funding arrangements for 2014/15
    • Voc Quals (1.) Ofqual confirms changes to accreditation arrangements
    • VQs (2.) Edge survey confirms strong parental support
    • Apprenticeships. More trailblazers announced
    • FE. AoC confirms extent of college engagement with business
    • FE teaching bursaries. Minister confirms continuation of scheme into 2016
    • FE Commissioner. Writes to the sector with views on how to raise standards
    • Uni applications. UCAS reveals drop in home applications at Oct deadline
    • HE (1.) Quality Assurance. HEFCE announces new review
    • HE (2.) UUK publishes report on impact of schools led teacher-training
    • University hot and cold spots. HEFCE maps them out
    • Unemployment. Significant drop in latest figures, down to 1.97m

    Reports/Publications of the month (in order of publication)

    Speeches of the month

    • Glenys Stacey’s 2 October Key Conference speech explains how the qualification regulator is managing the current qualification reform programme
    • Vince Cable’s 6 0ctober Conference speech announces plans for a single national minimum wage for 16-17 year olds
    • Nick Clegg’s 8 October Conference speech includes a promise to protect funding up to age 18 as one of 5 pledges intended to position the Party between the other two
    • Matthew Hancock’s 13 October Industrial Strategy speech sets out the role of the Strategy for manufacturing and other sectors
    • Genys Stacey’s 14 October FAB Conference speech sets out the thinking behind changes to accreditation requirements for VQs and other quals
    • Sam Gyimah’s 21 October Policy Exchange speech makes a strong case for further development of school-led nurseries
    • Nick Clegg’s 22 October Public Sector speech pledges to cut back on the paperwork and other bureaucracy making the life and work of public servants like teachers so burdensome

    Quotes of the month

    • “There’s lots of things I lie awake at night worrying about. This is not one of them. We really shouldn’t get exercised about it.” Vince Cable on tuition fee repayments
    • “Teaching isn’t a job for the faint – hearted.” Nick Clegg gets to grips with the reality of teaching
    • “A Labour government would retain the primary curriculum and, in the main, continue with the GCSE changes.” The Shadow Ed Minister on Labour’s approach to qual reform, in the main
    • "You can spot a good school in half an hour.” The Chief Inspector on the inspection reforms
    • “Social mobility in Britain is low and stalling and nowhere is this more apparent than in education.” The Social Mobility Commission on the importance of education
    • We know that something funny happens when teenagers start to be slightly out of sync with the rest of the world.” The Education Endowment Fund investigates the nature of sleeping patterns on young people’s learning outcomes

    Word or phrase of the month

    • To procaffeinate. To put things off till you’ve had a coffee.
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  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in September 2014

    Some interesting reports out this month including those on primary school provision, GCSE grading, FE teaching and learning and HE student numbers but as the seven speeches listed indicate, election momentum is gathering pace.

    Key headlines from the month

    •    Free school meals. Introduced for 5-7 and 16-18 year olds
    •    Free Schools. 35 more announced
    •    New national curriculum. Gets under way for most pupils
    •    SEN. New reforms come into effect
    •    Primary reading. New campaign launched to help more 11 yr olds read
    •    Lesson observations. Ofsted scrap individual grades in favour of general overview
    •    GCSE grading. Ofqual explains the new scale
    •    Research centre. Wellington College launches the first school-based centre
    •    16-19 study programmes. Careers, English/maths singled out as weaknesses by Ofsted
    •    A level foreign languages. Ofqual outline some changes for summer 2015 on
    •    Careers guidance. Education Committee to hold follow-up inquiry as Morgan acknowledges issues
    •    Young people. Lib-Dems pledge discounted bus passes and ring fenced funding to age 19
    •    Voc Education. Government invites bids for a new research centre
    •    National College. Government declares Birmingham/Doncaster the home of the new HS2 college
    •    2014 uni entry. UK and EU applicants up and big increase for those with voc quals
    •    HE tuition fees. Minister rules out any immediate increase

    Reports/Publications of the month (in order of publication)

    •    The Efficiency Index. GEMS single out teacher salaries and class sizes as key indicators in the latest Education Efficiency Index which has the UK coming in at a high 1th
    •    16-18 year-old participation in education and training. The National Audit Office considers value for money in the latest 16-18 developments and worries about some of the cost benefits
    •    Adult literacy and numeracy. The BIS Committee questions the reliance on GCSEs and calls for a more joined-up approach to improve performance in this area
    •    Great Education Debate. The professional body ASCL emerges with three priority areas: ensuring achievement for all, prof development for teachers and greater system collaboration
    •    Education at a Glance. The OECD offers its annual sweeping survey of education system performance in 40+countries and finds for the UK more graduates don’t equal more skills
    •    Students’ educational and developmental outcomes at age 16. The latest research from the EPPSE programme suggests that effective early years provision helps
    •    Read on, Get on.  Charities, teachers and publishers get together to launch a new campaign to help more young and deprived children to read
    •    Manifesto for a Numerate UK. The National Numeracy charity calls for a new numeracy qualification as part of a 7-point Manifesto
    •    Mobility Manifesto. The Sutton Trust launches a 10-point manifesto intended to improve social mobility through education
    •    Setting the Grade Standards of new GCSEs in England. The consultation over, responses considered, Ofqual sets out how the new numerical scale is to apply for the first GCSEs
    •    Early implementation of 16-19 study programmes. Ofsted runs the rule over the new study programmes and finds limited evidence so far of any ‘transformational’ change
    •    Governors’ Handbook. The DfE updates its latest guidance for school governors but retains the three core functions of strategy, challenge and financial audit
    •    The qualifications of English and maths FE teachers. The Education and Training Foundation surveys the workforce and finds gaps in support and skills levels
    •    A guide to the removal of student number controls. HEPI outlines three big challenges: the impact on numbers: impact on quality; how’s it going to be funded?
    •    Teaching, learning and assessment in FE and skills. Ofsted surveys evidence from 20 outstanding providers as it seeks to demonstrate what works and why
    •    Taking Action. The National Careers Council reviews progress one year on and offers four more recommendations to help speed things up
    •    Perceptions of Qualifications. Ofqual’s latest survey finds continued support for A levels, less for GCSEs and concerns about constant change
    •    Developing new GCSEs and A levels. The DfE and Ofqual consult on content and assessment arrangements for a further tranche of 2016 GCSEs and A and AS levels
    •    Interim report on 2014 university entry. UCAS summarises things one month on from results day and finds recruitment booming for those with voc quals especially
    •    Primary Focus. The think tank Policy Exchange calls for a mass academisation programme to help primary schools meet a growing list of challenges
    •    Low-level disruption in the country’s classrooms. Ofsted concludes that some pupils could be losing up to an hour’s learning a day from disruptive behaviour in some classrooms
    •    Stand up for education. The NUT launches a manifesto for education that includes more time for teaching rather than testing and a restored role for local authorities

    Speeches of the month

    •    Greg Clark’s 9 Sept UUK Conference speech sprinkles praise liberally to all corners and pledges to protect the sector from further cuts  
    •    Tristram Hunt’s 21 Sept Conference speech briefly outlines the three current education priorities childcare reform; fully trained teachers; a reformed vocational education system
    •    Ed Balls’ 22 Sept Conference speech acknowledges the need to cut the deficit but promises to transform vocational education and support a compulsory jobs guarantee  
    •    Ed Miliband’s 23 Sept Conference speech sticks to a 10 yr programme of six goals: jobs, pay, apprenticeships, health, housing and wealth
    •    George Osborne’s 29 Sept Conference speech pledges to abolish long-term youth unemployment and create more apprenticeships but the fight to reduce the deficit goes on
    •    Nicky Morgan’s 30 Sept Conference speech adopts a highly conciliatory tone as it recognises concerns about teacher workload and reform pressures
    •    David Cameron’s 1 Oct Conference speech calls for 5 more yrs to allow the Government to complete its programme of reform in areas like education

    Quotes of the month

    •    “I’m not a complicated man. I believe in simple things.” The Prime Minister explains his political philosophy
    •    “I don’t want my child to be taught by someone too tired, too stressed and too anxious to do the job well.” The Education Secretary feels the pain of overworked teachers
    •    “If you get into government it will cause you no end of grief.” The ex-Universities Minister advices the Shadow Universities Minister about the perils of the graduate tax
    •    “We’re a regulator that is known, understood and feared-feared isn’t always a bad thing.” Ofsted’s Chief Inspector on the fear factor
    •    “On the one hand in in the UK you can say qualification levels have risen enormously, lots more people are getting degrees but actually not all of that is visible in skills.”  The OECD on the worrying gap in the UK between knowing and doing
    •    “Rigorous, engaging and tough.” The PM’s 3-word description of the new national curriculum

    Word or phrase of the month

    •    Three new education typologies: ‘VIFs,’ Caves’ and ‘Gringos’ or ‘very important freshers,’ ‘colleagues against virtually everything’ and ‘graduates in non-graduate opportunities’.

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  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in August 2014

    It’s been exams results month of course and much of the talking has been about the impact of some of the so-called ‘Gove’ reforms on results.

    The programme of reform continues however and Ofqual’s 2014-2017 Corporate Plan, published this month and listed under the Reports below, offers a useful guide to what’s in store. For a Labour perspective, Tristram Hunt’s speech also cited below, contains some interesting detail about their plans. Elsewhere this month, primary schools may be interested in the provisional key stage 2 test results now released, secondary schools in the CBI’s ‘Future Possible’ Report on young people’s skill programmes, FE in the consultation on success measures and HE in Labour’s plans for a revamped higher-level tech route. All are referenced below.

    Key headlines from the month

    •    Key Stage 2 tests. 79% of pupils achieve level 4 or above in 2014 tests
    •    Free meals. Concerns continue about costs and capacity
    •    Primary maths support. To be beamed in from India in trial programme
    •    PISA tests. More Chinese pupils to participate in future tests
    •    Free Schools. London Institute study finds the disadvantaged often miss out
    •    Studio Schools. 4 more announced
    •    UTCs. 7 more announced
    •    League Tables. Head teacher groups plan alternative model
    •    Digital technology. Ofcom confirm 6yr olds more savvy than 45 yr olds
    •    Inspections. Ofsted publish revised guidance for coming year
    •    Teachers. A quarter move into top income tax bracket
    •    GCSEs. A*-Cs up to 68% but concerns about performance in English and science numbers
    •    A levels. A*-Es slight drop to 98%, A*s up to 8.2%, STEM entries up
    •    AS level. Labour confirm it’ll re-couple
    •    Regulation. Ofqual sets out its priorities for over the next 3 years
    •    Work experience. CBI call for co-ordinated system of Local Brokers
    •    16-19 Study Programmes. DfE confirms latest guidance.
    •    Traineeships. Scheme reaches first birthday with 7,400 learners signed up
    •    Apprenticeships. New campaign and standards rolled out
    •    NEETs. Down to 9yr low
    •    Skills Crunch. Prince’s Trust highlights where it’s biting hardest
    •    19+ learning. Government consults on new outcome success measures
    •    FE. Government update the sector in latest briefing letter
    •    HE student funding. UUK’s new Panel calls for evidence
    •    Student Satisfaction. Bath, Keele and St Andrews come out on top
    •    HE. Labour sets out plans for Tech Universities

    Reports/Publications of the month (in order of publication)

    •    Apprenticeship Funding Reform. BIS updates on its earlier funding consultation confirming introduction of its initial co-investment model in 2014/15 with full new system from 2016
    •    Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy. The government calls for views from respective industries as it seeks to map out a future strategy
    •    Trends in Undergraduate Recruitment. UUK publishes its latest report into UK and EU undergrad recruitment and finds an increase in alternative providers but decrease in p/t numbers
    •    Ending number controls in HE. The HE Policy Institute (HEPI) analyses the Australian experience in removing HE number controls and raises concerns about a rushed approach here
    •    Only a Matter of Time? The think tank Policy Exchange examines the issues around extending the school day and finds many schools already do but that a voluntary approach works better
    •    College Governance. BIS’s latest guide, timed to coincide with work from the AoC, highlights the important role college governors play in holding college leaders to account
    •    Success measures in adult education. BIS maps out the possible impact of and seeks views on its 4 proposed outcome based success measures for 19+ learning
    •    Future Possible. The CBI calls for a structured and supported programme of work-related learning and guidance to help young people prepare for the world of work
    •    Trends in HE applications and admissions. The Independent Commission on Fees finds a continuing wide access gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students
    •    Remember the Young Ones. The think tank IPPR calls for a youth apprenticeship levy along with a youth allowance as part of its proposals for school to work transition
    •    On Speaking Terms. The think tank Demos reports on a fragmented and poorly funded ESOL system in England and calls for a student-style loan system to help improve things
    •    2014-2017 Corporate Plan. Ofqual puts the emphasis on validity, voc quals, efficiency and transparency as it sets out a busy work programme for the next three years
    •    Implementing Rigour and Responsiveness. The new Skills Minister maintains a familiar tone as he sends out the latest in the series of briefing Papers to FE Governors and Leaders
    •    Funding for In-service Maths Teacher Training in FE. The SFA explains how the new scheme will work from this September
    •    Careers guidance and inspiration. DfE and BIS set out the latest requirements on sixth form and FE colleges
    •    Robbins Rebooted. The Labour Party starts to build its vision of a new, earn while you learn tech route through Tech University partnerships working with industry and colleges
    •    Elitist Britain. The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission examines the background of 4,000 public leaders and finds continuing evidence of elitism operating

    Speeches of the month

    •    George Osborne’s 5 August Northern Powerhouse speech pledges to put plans to create an economic powerhouse in the North at the heart of his Autumn Statement this year
    •    Iain Duncan Smith’s 11 August Getting Britain Working speech argues that economic and social welfare reforms should go hand in hand as part of the recovery programme
    •    Tristram Hunt’s 18 August Choice in Education speech reflects on some of the lessons from the great Butler Reform Act of 70 years ago and identifies key education reforms for Labour

    Quotes of the month

    •    “The bar has not been set higher this year than last and so students who would have succeeded before these changes should succeed now, all other things being equal.” The Chief Executive of Ofqual calms the nerves in the week before the exam results come out
    •    “Under the leadership of my predecessor, Michael Gove, we’ve turned the exam system on its head so that it works for children not politicians.” Nicky Morgan sets the tone for the government’s response to the 2014 exam results
    •    “More broadly, I am hopeful that we can build on the Tech Bacc and move towards a Nat Bacc framework that binds all learning routes together within a vigorous curriculum framework.” The Shadow Education Secretary on his vision for 14-19 learning
    •    “A decrease of 0.1% in the overall pass rate represents about 800 entries. It is not a significant shift. This is a stable picture of exams year on year.” The General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders puts the A level results into context
    •    “Reform was necessary because so many pupils gained qualifications that neither employers nor universities recognised.” Alison Wolf explains why the exam system needed reform

    Word or phrase of the month

    •    ‘Snowploughers.’ Pushy parents, apparently.

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