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 July 2012

    This month saw the exam season draw to a close and attention start to shift towards the forthcoming results days instead.

    Main talking points

    Exams, however, in some form remained important with Reports from the Select Committee in England and the Inquiry in Wales and the Response to 16-19 Funding and Provision all being published in the last few weeks.

    Elsewhere, post-16 maths, destination data, FE loan regulations, widening participation in HE and the economy all featured prominently this month. It’s been left to the Olympics to raise both spirits and the economy.

    Key headlines from the month

    • Free schools. 24 open, 50 ish more this Sept, 102 now approved for 2013 onwards
    • Studio Schools. 2 open, 15 more now approved, a target of 30 for Sept 2013
    • Academy funding. Consultation under way on replacing the LA equivalent grant
    • School Dinners. New team brought in to build on Jamie’s work
    • Key Stage 4. Duty to provide work-related learning removed from Sept 2012
    • Gifted and talented. The Sutton Trust call for a new ‘highly able’ strategy
    • Access and Achievement Panel. Ofsted pulls in the leading lights to help with its new Panel
    • Exam system. Select Committee recommend development of some national syllabuses
    • Qual market in Wales. Panel Report retains current system but with improvements
    • Inspiring the Future. Volunteer scheme launched to help inspire youthful ambitions
    • Destination Data. First data set shows where 16 and 18 yr olds are going
    • 16-19. New programme and funding arrangements announced
    • Post-16 maths. The Sutton Trust and the Labour Party add to the voices of support
    • FE loans. Regulations laid as the House debates the implications
    • Skills provision. The SMF, Ofsted, UKCES, 157 Group offer more perspectives
    • Community Learning. First 15 pilot Trusts prepare for an August start
    • HE applications. Down 10% in England, notably amongst older age groups
    • HE fees. Average 2013 fee rises to £8615 pa for HEIs and £6429 pa for HE in FE
    • Graduate Market. Rise in applications but also small, 0.9%, rise in vacancies for 2012
    • Research. Government opens up access to research papers following Finch Review
    • Economy. IMF downgrades global growth predictions, to 0.2 for the UK in 2012
    • Unemployment. Down 65,000 to 2.58m overall, down 10,000 to 1.02m for 16-24 yr olds.

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

    • Hidden Talents. The Local Government Association and Centre for Social Justice look at how best to re-engage young people in the first of what’s intended to be a series of Papers
    • Boys’ Reading Commission. The All-Parliamentary Literacy Group come up with nine recommendations such as a tailored reading strategy to help improve boys’ reading
    • Widening Participation Strategic Assessment Monitoring. HEFCE and OFFA’s annual report on provider activity in widening access finds HEIs spending more especially on outreach activity
    • Study and Funding provision for 16-19 year olds. The Government commits to the ‘Wolf’ model for 16-19 study programmes and starts the process of aligning funding
    • RPA Regulations: Response to Consultation. The Government summarises the latest consultation on raising the participation age and confirms the lifting of employer duties
    • The administration of exams for 15-19 yr olds in England. The Select Committee come up with 36 recommendations following its 9 month inquiry into the exam system
    • The Missing Middle. The RSA examine the case for a strong regional/local tier within a reformed and de-regulated school system
    • Britain’s Got Talent. The Social Market Foundation offer a further Paper on the skills system and propose a more sophisticated payment for results system as a way of unlocking demand
    • Educating the Highly Able. The Sutton Trust’s commissioned Paper questions previous policy and includes shifting exams to age 14 amongst its 16 recommendations
    • Understanding HE in FE. BIS publish its research into the impact of HE in FE which finds FE offering a different experience for many but as yet no mass growth
    • Skills for Employment. Ofsted call for provision to be better matched to helping unemployed adults find jobs rather than filling up existing courses
    • Consultation on removing the duty to deliver work-related learning at KS4. Despite the strong support for retaining WRL at KS4, the DfE lifts the requirement on schools
    • Youth Employment Challenge. The UKCES follows up its last year’s Youth Inquiry by highlighting how much harsher the labour market has become for young people
    • Youth Employment in Europe. The TUC, IPPR and CIPD come together to see what lessons can be learned from the fabled systems in Northern European economies
    • Plan B. The Compass Group continues its pursuit of a Plan B for the economy with some recommendations to help young people including a modern form of national service
    • Report into STEM. The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee publishes its Report on STEM and call for an expert group to be set up to track growth and opportunities
    • Student number controls for 2013/14. HEFCE publish the procedure for core and margin numbers for next year.

    Speeches of the month

    • Glenys Stacey’s 3 July Exam System speech considers the current wave of system reforms and identifies three aspects necessary for the maintenance of standards
    • Michael Gove’s 5 July FASNA speech lays out the culture of high expectations the Government is seeking with demanding standards for all in a new look education system
    • Nick Gibb’s 10 July ACME speech outlines current Government policy in maths and spells out what steps it’s taking to transform standards
    • Kim Thorneywork’s 10 July Funding Conference speech reflects on a new relationship with FE providers as the Skills Funding Agency moves into a new era
    • Glenys Stacey’s 12 July Westminster Briefing speech expands on the four key questions at the heart of the current consultation on A levels
    • Matthew Coffey’s 12 July Ofsted’s first Learning and Skills Lecture considers some of the challenges facing the FE sector as it seeks to tackle both social mobility and growth at once.

    Quotes of the month

    • “I simply can’t say.” The HE Minister tells the Select Committee that he can’t be sure if or when an HE Bill might appear
    • “Where are the diggers in the ground?” The Director-General of the CBI wonders what’s happened to the Growth Plan
    • “I would like to establish a relationship more like that in HE where Vice Chancellors and HEFCE regard each other as partners in a joint endeavour.” The Interim Chief Exec of the SFA spells out what sort of relationship she is seeking with FE providers in future
    • “It was a vale of tiers.” The Education Secretary plays clever with words as he explains why the exam system needed to change
    • “Maintaining standards in times of change is one of the most significant challenges to any assessment system.” A witness to the Select Committee explains some of the difficulties facing the exam system.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Sheep dipping.” Ofsted highlight a concern about provision focused on qualification achievement rather than job outcomes
    • “It’s easier to be critical than correct.” The Skills Minister quotes Disraeli in the recent Commons debate on FE loans.
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in June 2012

    A number of big talking points this month but two in particular stand out.

    Main talking points

    One, inevitably, is the emerging story about GCSE reform. Details at present are only sketchy and will remain so until consultation is launched but the leaked details have been enough to arouse considerable concern about the potential impact on young people. The other story remains the economy and the revelation that the cuts may have to drag on for ten years. Elsewhere there have been signs that the Government too has an eye on the future with future-facing consultations on both A levels and Apprenticeships launched and a keynote speech made by the Prime Minister on welfare reform.

    Key headlines from the month

    • Phonics. Unions express concerns about current screening model
    • National Curriculum. Consultation begins on the draft Key Stage 1 and 2 core specs
    • ICT. Final consultation launched on disapplication of ICT at all Key Stages
    • Careers. Select Committee announce new inquiry
    • GSCE. Consultation likely within two months following media leak
    • Post-16 maths. Elizabeth Truss continues her campaign for compulsory 16+ maths structure
    • A levels. Consultation commences on future design and assessment model
    • 55,600. The number of pupils apparently skipping lessons on a typical day
    • Curriculum in Wales. Consultation begins on literacy/numeracy standards and 14-19 quals
    • Apprenticeships. Latest Review announced, more forward-looking
    • Higher apprenticeships. Latest funding allocated, degree proposals considered
    • FE. AoC call for free school meal eligibility to be extended to college sector
    • Functional skills. Concerns grow about funding rate in the workplace
    • 24+ Loans. Impact Analysis, SFA Guide and latest Briefing all published
    • UCAS stats. Latest figures point to 10% drop in domestic applications
    • HE – Business links. Plans for a new National Centre announced
    • Unemployment. Latest quarterly total down slightly to 2.61m, 1.01m for 16-24 yr olds
    • Inflation. CPI rate drops to 2.8% helped by falls in prices for oil, food, drinks.

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

    Speeches of the month

    • Chukka Umunna’s 12 June IPPR speech reports on Labour’s HE policy review and confirms the Party’s promise to cut fees to £6,000
    • Vince Cable’s 12 June Times CEO Summit speech argues that the Olympic project has shown that Britain can deliver big infrastructure projects on time
    • Michael Gove’s 14 June National College speech looks at progress in raising the quality of teaching and announces further expansion of Teach First and a new School Direct model
    • George Osborne’s 14 June Mansion House speech sets out how the government is dealing with continuing ‘shocks’ to the economy
    • Michael Wilshaw’s 15 June National College speech stresses that while he wants to see rapid improvements in teaching, he’ll always be on the side of good heads and teachers
    • Vince Cable’s 15 June Centreforum speech looks at lessons from history and argues that it’s possible to grow out of recession while pursuing deficit reduction
    • Michael Gove’s 26 June Spectator Conference speech defends the government’s current reform programme by arguing that it’s about raising aspiration for all.

    Quotes of the month

    • “We may still be coming through the deepest recession in living memory but we are for the most part incomparably better off than we were in the Silver Jubilee of 1977.” The Institute for Fiscal Studies compares the 2012 Diamond Jubilee with the 1977 Silver Jubilee
    • “In effect, the state doesn’t just open a door to dependency for young people, it drags them in.” The Prime Minister on the need for benefits reform
    • “It is easy to launch Maoist revolutions. It is much harder to build constructive and considered processes of change that address real challenges.” Labour’s Shadow HE Minister on how to carry through reform, in this case for HE
    • “Not to reform education is to settle for stagnation.” Michael Gove on the case for continuing reform of the education system
    • “Lessons should be planned but not in an over complicated or formulaic way. A crowded lesson is as bad as a crowded curriculum.” The Chief Inspector on lesson planning.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Slow casserole.” The recipe for learning according to the Chief Executive of the GDST
    • “The soft bigotry of low expectations.” The American phrase, adapted by Michael Gove, to rebuff those attacking his proposed education reforms.
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in May 2012

    Exam season of course and a lot of the activity listed below reflects the importance of exams and qualifications with much interest in Ofqual’s plans for the future and reports such as Ofsted’s on maths teaching.

    Main talking points

    Other themes for the month include social mobility, Special Needs, the annual celebration of adult learning and emerging changes for the profession and inspections, all receiving prominent attention over the last four weeks.

    Key headlines from the month

    • Special Needs. DfE issue formal response to earlier Green Paper consultation
    • Schools. Disadvantaged pupils record higher average GCSE scores in 440 secondaries
    • UTCs. 2 open, 3 opening in Sept, 17 under development, 15 more approved
    • School buildings. 261 plans approved under the new Priority Schools Building Programme
    • Voc learning. Independent commission on pedagogy gets under way
    • 24+ (FE) Advanced Learning Loans. SFA/SLC prepare for info road show from July
    • Adult Skills funding. SFA confirm current budget of £3+bn with indicative £2.7bn for 2013/14
    • Enterprise. £82m StartUp Loans scheme for 18-24 year entrepreneurs launched
    • Adult apprenticeships. NAO suggest economic returns of £18 per £1 of public funding
    • Graduates. ‘High Fliers’ apply early for this year’s jobs; marketing, teaching, media popular
    • Employer Ownership Pilots. 269 bids now in, winners to be announced later
    • Adult learning. NIACE annual survey reports slight 1% fall in participation
    • Pensions. PWC predict a person born this year will not get a state pension until they reach 77.

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

    • Great teachers: attracting, training and retaining the best. The Select Committee concludes its inquiry into the profession with strong recommendations on pay, performance and CPD
    • Taking Regulatory Action. Version 2. Ofqual spells out how it intends to use its newly acquired regulatory powers
    • Annual Qualifications Market Report. Ofqual sizes the market and players in its latest survey of the exams and qualification market
    • A risk-based approach to quality assurance. HEFCE launches consultation on a new risk-based quality assurance system for HE in England to be in place potentially from 2013/14
    • 7 Key truths about Social Mobility. The All-Party Parliamentary Group highlight some essential determinants of social mobility with many rooted in education
    • The Regional Growth Fund. The National Audit Office comes up with some of the costings of job creation under the Government’s flagship regional fund
    • DfE Accountability. The Public Accounts Committee casts a sharp eye over DfE operations and calls for clearer lines of responsibility and better value for money
    • International Comparisons in Senior Secondary Assessment. Ofqual completes its international benchmarking exercise for A levels and identifies 10 leading issues
    • Support and aspiration. A new approach to SEN. The DfE reports back on progress in transforming special educational needs provision
    • BIS Research Papers 67, 76, and 77. BIS publish a series of commissioned research Papers on the value of apprenticeships along with views from employers and apprentices
    • Adult Apprenticeships. The Public Accounts Committee welcome the growth of apprenticeships but suggest more could be done to improve costs and benefits
    • Labour Market Statistics May 2012. The ONS report a fall in unemployment over the last quarter, down 45,000 to 2.63m and for young people down 17,000 to 1.02m
    • Attitudes to FE loans. BIS finds attitudes improve slightly once the concept is explained but recognises that a hard round of information and guidance is also needed
    • The case for change. The DfE submits its evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body for a reformed pay and performance structure for teachers
    • HEPI survey into the student academic experience at English universities. The HE Policy Institute examines what impact fee increases have had on the student academic experience
    • Progress Report on Social Mobility. The Deputy PM reports on progress as the strategy reaches its first birthday and launches 17 ‘trackers’ to help measure progress in the future
    • Corporate Plan 2012-14. Ofqual’s first major ‘battle’ plan lists a number of significant developments for the qualification and exams system
    • Lost in transition. The Work Foundation report on the scale of the NEET problem and argue that a changing market is leaving some young people permanently out in the cold
    • Social mobility and education gaps. Research for the Sutton Trust on social mobility across the English-speaking nations finds an uncomfortable gap in the UK for the disadvantaged
    • Maths: made to measure. Ofsted’s report on maths teaching highlights 3 problems: disadvantaged pupils never catching up; variable teaching; too much early GCSE entry
    • Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives. The OECD sets out a strategic approach to skills policies built around 3 policy levers: developing, activating and applying effective skills
    • Science, Engineering and Technology Technicians in the UK economy. The Gatsby Foundation reports on its work to develop a high-level technician tier in key economic sectors
    • Responses to inspection consultation. Ofsted reports on its recent consultation on changes to inspection arrangements for schools and colleges from this Sept.

    Speeches of the month

    • The Queen’s Speech lists 19 Bills for the next session of Parliament including one on Children and Families, a couple on Pensions and one on Enterprise
    • Michael Gove’s 10 May Brighton College speech spells out what more needs to be done to help improve prospects for disadvantaged pupils
    • Nick Clegg’s 14 May social mobility speech announces cash prizes for schools that manage to raise the performance of disadvantaged pupils the most
    • David Cameron’s 17 May ‘Economy’ speech sets out how the Government is getting to grips with the 3 big economic challenges of: recovery, the Eurozone and the global context
    • Ed Miliband’s 21 May Sutton Trust speech calls for a proper recognition of vocational learning as a way of improving social mobility
    • David Willetts’ 24 May UEA lecture extols the virtues of a free market industrial strategy built around technology, research and business engagement.

    Quotes of the month

    • “I’m listening. I’m leading. I get it.” The Prime Minister on the economic fight back
    • “This annual survey, once again, clearly shows that participation is determined by class, age, employment status and prior attainment.” NIACE on its annual adult learning survey
    • “Will we ever see a comprehensive boy or girl edit The Guardian?” Michael Gove on how far we still have to go to improve social mobility
    • “Anything less than good is not an acceptable standard of education.” Ofsted establishes its position
    • “Parents need a 5-a day guide to help them get children ready for school.” The Schools Commissioner raises the prospect of a parenting handbook.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Striving classes.’ You’ve heard of squeezed middle…
    • ‘Skills potholes.’ What the UK Commission found when it surveyed employer views.
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in April 2012

    Clearly a difficult month politically but where does this leave the world of education and training?

    Main talking points

    First, like most other public services, it leaves it facing further belt tightening potentially well into 2016 and possibly beyond; Danny Alexander’s IFS speech this month, listed below, is important in understanding the context for this. Second, it leaves the world of education having to look at new ways of doing things so that it can raise performance while at the same time implement efficiencies: changes to teacher support, FE governance, workforce and funding, all listed here, are examples of this. And third, it leaves it having to ensure that the quality of its services and products are such that they can fully support learner progression: developments around A levels, apprenticeships and careers guidance, also all listed here, are examples of that.

    Key headlines from the month

    • Primary schools. £600m dished out to help cope with primary ‘bulge’
    • Free schools. 70 hoping to open in Sept 2012 but premises still an issue
    • A levels. Consultation to begin in June on HE involvement
    • Exam Board seminars. Ofqual set out new arrangements
    • Teachers. New appraisal arrangements confirmed for Sept 2012
    • Youth Contract. Launches at last at the start of the month
    • Young entrepreneurs. Bids for start-up scheme announced
    • Apprenticeships. New safeguards announced, new Parliamentary Group formed
    • Careers. New national service and range of products launched
    • FE. Consultation on governance complete, one on workforce regs under way
    • HE student numbers. Arrangements for 2013/14 announced
    • HE access agreements. New guidance for this year published
    • Big Society. New fund to support social enterprise launched
    • Economy. Unemployment slightly better, growth figures slightly not.

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

    • Work Experience Placements That Work. The CIPD offers a guide for employers on best practice in work experience placements
    • Innovation Code Checklist. As it says on the tin, a checklist for FE and training providers who want to draw down funding to support development of innovative provision
    • Fit for Purpose? Ofqual takes the pulse on the suitability of A levels as the Secretary of State invites HE to get involved in qualification design
    • The Right Advice at the Right Time. The Skills Minister brings along a TV chef to help him launch the long awaited new National Careers Service
    • Funding Rules 2012/13. The Skills Funding Agency pulls a lot of guidance and regulations together as it launches version one of this year’s funding rules
    • No Train No Gain. The IPPR offers a further perspective on where state-led skills policies have gone wrong in the past and calls instead for a more devolved and innovative system
    • Loans in FE. The DfE offer the first of what should be a regular series of briefings as part of the build up to next year’s introduction of fee loans for parts of the FE sector
    • Community Learning Trust Pilots. The BIS Dept launch its Prospectus for a new ‘Big Society’ model of locally determined adult and community learning trusts
    • Consultation on Revocation of the FE Workforce Regulations. The BIS Dept follow up the recent Review of FE professionalism with a consultation intended to clear the decks
    • Apprenticeships for young people. Ofsted emphasise the importance of work experience as it reports on what makes for good practice in apprenticeship provision for young people
    • Improving attendance at school. The Government’s Expert Adviser on Behaviour comes up with some beefed up proposals to improve attendance particularly in primary schools
    • Labour Market Statistics April 2012. The latest labour market stats point to a 35,000 drop in the unemployment total over the last quarter
    • Work Based Learning Workforce Survey 2010/11. AELP and LSIS get together to update the profile of the WBL workforce
    • Reorganising central government bodies. The Public Accounts Committee express concerns about how much will really be saved through quango reform
    • Business and Schools: Building the world of work together. UKCES uncover some familiar truths as it examines an important relationship
    • The Missing Link. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services publish two significant reports positioning local authorities as the ‘missing link’ in the new school system
    • Maths within A level options. Score and Nuffield investigate the content and nature of maths components and call for changes.

    Speeches of the month

    • Stephen Twigg’s 3 April ATL Conference speech announces that Sir Tim Brighouse will head up views on teacher CPD as part of Labour’s sweeping policy review
    • David Willetts’ 18 April HEFCE Conference speech reports on the latest developments in HE and confirms thinking on student numbers and widening participation but not the Bill
    • Sir Alan Langlands’ 18 April HEFCE Conference speech looks ahead to the next Spending Review and argues that HE will need to get the balance right between public/private funding
    • Danny Alexander’s 23 April IFS speech confirms that the age of austerity will drag on for some time yet and so sets new funding rules for Depts like education and skills.

    Quotes of the month

    • “It’s taking longer than anyone hoped to recover from the biggest debt crisis of our lifetime.”  The Chancellor reacts to the latest ‘disappointing’ growth figures
    • “I am sure universities will emerge from this stronger than before and that is not an empty claim.” David Willetts tells the HEFCE Conference that he sees light at the end of the tunnel
    • “An apprenticeship is about employment and skills development. It is not simply a vocational training course.” The new head of the NAS is clear about the nature of apprenticeships
    • “Skills have become the global currency of 21stc economics.” The OECD’s forthcoming Skills Strategy starts from this position
    • “It is my view that the single most important purpose of an A level qualification is to prepare young people for study at university.” Michael Gove clarifies what he sees as the purpose of A levels as he calls on HE to assure standards.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Rainy day money.’ The money (5% of resource budgets) that spending Depts now have to stash away just in case
    • ‘Room meat.’  What HE students apparently become if force fed dull lectures.
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in March 2012

    A huge number of Reports and Papers out this month (see below) with the Budget or at least funding generally, dominating many of them.

    Main talking points

    Public sector pensions and pay apart, there was little in the Budget on education though many will have noticed the Chancellor’s continuing commitment to stick with current funding restrictions into 2016/17 which will, as the Institute of Fiscal Studies noted last year, have implications for education provision.

    And on the theme of funding, updates on progress towards new funding systems for both schools and FE were published during the month, bids opened for summer schools and employer owned pilots and the finance package for university students for 2013/14 was announced.

    Key headlines from the last month

    • GCSE. Michael Gove cautions against early entry
    • Homework. Michael Gove scraps current (old) guidelines
    • Performance Tables. The Dept publish the latest listing for the 2014/15 tables
    • Summer schools. Bids for funding opens
    • Careers. The Dept issue statutory guidance for schools
    • Youth Contract. DWP Select Committee prepare to launch an Inquiry
    • HE admissions. UCAS shift focus from PQA reform to Clearing
    • HE Student Finance. David Willetts confirms the package for 2013/14
    • HE margin places. HEFCE confirms allocation of the 20,000 ‘margin’ places up for grabs
    • Russell Group of universities. Gains four new members
    • Employer Ownership Pilot. Guidelines for applications issued
    • Welfare Reform. Bill incorporating Universal Credit eventually passed.

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

    • National Numeracy Survey. The new group dedicated to tackling maths skills finds that 17m adults have ‘poor’ numeracy skills
    • A New Streamlined Funding System for Adult Skills. The SFA publish an update on progress in introducing a new simplified funding system from August 2013
    • Quarterly Economic Forecast. The British Chambers of Commerce suggest unemployment will rise to 2.90m by Q1 2013 in their latest Quarterly Review
    • Review of Alternative Provision. The Government’s Expert Adviser on Behaviour outlines what’s available outside mainstream provision and calls for more school commissioning
    • Labour market statistics: March 2012. The ONS publish the latest set of unemployment figures which show the overall total up 28,000 since the last quarter to 2.67m
    • The growth of academy chains. The NCSL publish a report on some of the implications and challenges of academy chains for school leaders
    • Public attitudes to GCSEs and A levels. Ofqual’s annual survey finds public confidence undimmed in both qualifications
    • Moving English forward. Ofsted report on evidence from inspections of English and suggest some ways of helping raise standards
    • Enterprising Futures. The new(ish) Gazelle Group in FE look at changing practices in the workplace and call for greater prominence to be given to developing entrepreneurial skills
    • Hidden Talents. The LGA examine the complex web of support systems for unemployed young people and call for better pooling of resources
    • Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders for the 21st Century. The OECD present some interesting case study evidence as they consider teaching roles in the future
    • Budget 2012. A 100+ pages of forecasts, predictions, reforms and hopes for the future
    • Economic and Fiscal Outlook. March 2012. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) point to a zig-zag pattern of growth as they sketch out the economic climate for the next 5 years
    • Plan for Growth. The BIS Dept update progress on the 235 measures in the Growth Plan
    • The over-looked middle in 14+ education and training. The Institute of Education point to a new group of young people likely to emerge from the current lack of provision
    • Next Steps in School Funding Reform. The Dept report on steps being taken to introduce a simplified national funding formula from 2013/14
    • Professionalism in FE. The Independent Review Panel tries to clear the air as it produces the first phase of what will be a two phase report
    • After the Riots. The final Report of the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel comes up with over 60 recommendations covering schools, families, the police and consumerism
    • Plan A+: unleashing the potential of Academies. The think tank Reform and the Schools Network examine progress in Academisation and call for a new Plan A phase of development.

    Speeches of the month

    • Vince Cable’s 6 March EEF Manufacturing Conference speech spells out what he considers to be some of the key ingredients of a modern industrial strategy
    • Francis Maude’s 7 March Policy Exchange speech sees giving people a stake through greater ownership, mutualisation and transparency as an essential part of the Party’s modernisation
    • Iain Duncan Smith’s 12 March Social Justice speech announces the creation of a new investment funded Early Intervention Foundation to help prevent social breakdown
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 15 March Raising Standards in literacy speech lists 10 steps to help raise national standards in literacy
    • Ed Miliband’s 16 March Labour Youth Conference speech calls for a bank bonus tax to be used to guarantee 6 months work for 18-24 year olds who have been out of work for a year
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 20 March Policy Exchange speech reflects on Ofsted’s role in after care services that could help school improvement
    • George Osborne’s 21 March Budget speech has little to say on education but plenty on tax, benefits and pensions
    • Michael Gove’s 24 March ASCL speech identifies five pillars for reform: the funding system, teaching, the curriculum and quals, accountability and system change.

    Quotes of the month

    • “The British economy has carried a little more momentum into the new year than previously anticipated.” The Chancellor points to some movement in his Budget speech
    • “It’s simply inexcusable for anyone to say they can’t do maths. It is a peculiarly British disease we aim to eradicate.” The new National Numeracy campaign takes a no-excuses approach to raising maths standards
    • “Lest anyone think we have reached a point where we should slacken the pace of reform, let me reassure them: we have to accelerate.” Michael Gove keeps his foot on the pedal
    • “Young people between 13 and 24 years can receive support from at least 8 national organisations funding 33 different funds and schemes spanning 13 different age groups.”The Local Government Association tries to untangle support systems for young people
    • “Sage on the stage or guide on the side.” Former Labour adviser Peter Hyams looks for both as he recruits teachers for his new school.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Abattoir administration.’ The Times political correspondent gets graphic over cuts
    • ‘Dux.’ The DfE displays its Latin credentials as it adopts a classical term for its new scheme to encourage entry to university.
    read more