Two of what are likely to be dominant themes for the world of education and skills this year have been very much in evidence this month.
Main talking points
First standards, where this month has seen Ofqual announce further tightening for some GCSEs, the Chief Inspector set out the rationale behind changes to inspections and the Skills Minister announce further quality changes for apprenticeships. Second youth employment, a fertile ground at present for planners and policy makers and where the month saw a further announcement on the Youth Contract by the Deputy PM and a couple of significant Reports on youth unemployment, listed below. Elsewhere, HE gained a new Director for the Office for Fair Access but saw proposals to impose penalties on early repayment of fee loans dropped.
Key headlines from the last month
- Free Schools. Next round of applications opens
- GCSE. Further tightening in 4 subjects announced
- Ofsted. Consultation on raising the bar launched
- National Citizen Service. Further consultation under way
- Apprenticeships. 3 big banks prepare to pitch in
- Apprenticeships 16-24. AGE (Apprenticeship Grant for Employers) launched
- SME Apprenticeship Review. Chair and reporting date established
- Business in the Community. Network of Business Connectors extended
- FE. Independent review of profession takes evidence
- FE ITE. Budget for initial teacher education announced
- City Skills Fund. Funding pot confirmed
- UK Skills Show. Date (Nov 2012) and venue (NEC) now set
- HEFCE. Funding for teaching and learning announced
- HE fees. Proposals for early repayment penalty abandoned
- HE Key Information Set. Latest modelling of format published
- Regional Growth Fund. Further £1bn added for new round of bids
- Make it in Great Britain. The ‘Make it’ challenge launched
- Unemployment. Final 2011 figures confirmed at 2.67m.
Reports/Publications of the month (in order of publication)
- ‘NAO Report on Adult Apprenticeships.’ The National Audit Office conclude that adult apprenticeships offer value for money but make 4 recommendations for the future
- ‘ACEVO Commission on Youth Unemployment.’ The Commission map out the costs of youth unemployment and call for new local Youth Employment Partnerships to be set up
- ‘Staying the Course.’ Barnardos highlight some of the difficulties faced by young people now that the EMA system has gone
- ‘Multiple risk factors in young children’s development.’ The latest Milennium Cohort Study identifies 10 risk factors that can impact on child development
- ‘The Economic Value of Apprenticeships.’ The SQW Report for City and Guilds costs out the value of the apprenticeship premium to individuals, companies and the country
- ‘Employer Ownership of Skills.’ The Government and the UKCES launch the prospectus inviting firms to bid for funds under the Employer Ownership pilot
- ‘Solving the maths problem.’ The RSA report on how other countries have gone about raising maths standards and find different high speed lanes important
- ‘2012 Reform scorecard.’ The Reform think tank assess progress in the reform of public services and call for a higher gear if real change is to be effected
- ‘Unlocking growth in cities.’ The Government launches its new City Skills Fund intended to drive city based growth strategy
- ‘Labour Market Outlook. Winter 2011-12.’ The CIPD offers its latest assessment of the market and find things looking bleak until well into the second half of the year
- ‘Beyond Bricks and Mortar Boards.’ The IPPR think tank consider ways in which universities can strengthen engagement with local communities
- ‘Social Enterprise Schools.’ The Policy Exchange think tank propose ‘mutual’ schools as a half way house between public and private management
- ‘Budget submission.’ The CBI encourage the Chancellor to take steps to stimulate infrastructure investment and boost growth in his forthcoming Budget
- ‘Unlocking Britain’s Potential.’ Leading employers highlight some disconnects between what the education and training system provides and what employers and the labour market needs
- ‘John Hayes’s Statement on quality in apprenticeships.’ The Minister informs the House about the measures being taken to assure quality and what further changes are being considered
- ‘Cultural Education in England.’ The Henley Review calls for a clear position on cultural education in any National Curriculum of the future
- ‘A Review of Business-University Collaboration.’ Sir Tim Wilson’s extensive review comes up with a shopping list of recommendations including a push on internships.
Speeches of the month
- David Miliband’s 6 February speech launching the Youth Commission Report outlines some important recommendations to help youth employment
- Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 9 February ‘Good to Great’ Conference speech spells out some of the changes being planned for the inspection system
- David Cameron’s 23 February Business in the Community speech takes on some of the recent anti business mood and argues that business and social justice can go hand in hand
- Vince Cable’s 23 Feb Manufacturing Summit speech explains what steps the government is taking to support the manufacturing industry
- Vince Cable’s 27 February Industrial Strategy speech highlights the work the government is doing to stimulate a growth strategy.
Quotes of the month
- “A rising tide lifts all boats.” David Willetts explains the thinking behind an open HE market
- “Hopefully I’ll never have to press the nuclear button.” The new Director of OFFA considers his armoury
- “If the route to university is a well signposted route, the route into work for (these) 16-18 year olds is more like an unmarked field of landmines.” The ACEVO Youth Commission highlight the rocky road facing many young people
- “Every individual soul is precious.” Michael Gove tells the Select Committee why he’s so committed to education reform
- “My view is that we have tolerated mediocrity for far too long.” Sir Michael Wilshaw takes a strong line on satisfactory level performance
- “This will not be just another quango.” Stephen Twigg outlines plans for a new Educational Improvements Agency.
Word or phrase of the month
- ‘Rhineland capitalism.’ The joint state-employer training model adopted in countries like Germany and Austria and viewed enviously for its success in training young people
- ‘Job Snobs.’ Government riposte to critics of its work schemes.