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!

The latest from Policy Watch

Filter posts by category:

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

    16 headlines, 23 Reports, 7 leading speeches, it’s been that sort of month.

    Key headlines from the month

    • Primary. Government and IoE announce new leadership schemes
    • Free schools. 38 more approved, total rises to 331
    • Progress 8. Schools invited to opt in early
    • GCSEs/A levels. Ofqual consults on the final sweep
    • Science. DfE launches consultation on proposed programme of study at KS4
    • Maths. ACME launches a maths education blueprint
    • Functional Skills. Ofqual seeks views
    • Exams 2014. Ofqual writes to schools and colleges
    • School funding. Lib-Dems pledge to ring fence 0-19 funding
    • Teachers. Ofqual invites teacher comments on exam prepping techniques
    • Lesson observations. Ofsted prepares to pilot a new approach
    • Learning Technology. Government pushes the agenda in FE
    • Apprenticeships. New co-investment funding model to be piloted from 2014/15
    • University complaints. Universities uphold a rising number of student complaints
    • Universities. Bath, Surrey, Lancaster charge up the Guardian university league table
    • Student visas. Government Statement responds to latest concerns.

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

    Speeches of the month

    • Matthew Hancock’s 2 June AELP Conference speech presents apprenticeship reform as an essential modernising exercise and announces a pilot funding model for new starters
    • Michael Gove’s 7 June Policy Exchange speech outlines five factors that help define high-performing school systems starting with autonomy and accountability
    • Matthew Hancock’s 11 June AoC International Conference speech finds good progress being made in the International Education Strategy as it reaches its first anniversary
    • Matthew Hancock’s 15 June Spectator speech highlights the role of technology in helping transform vocational learning
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 20 June Sunday Times Ed Festival speech identifies 4 features for successful comp schools: aspirational; competitive; ordered; working with/confronting parents
    • Glenys Stacey’s 20 June Sunday Times Ed Festival speech outlines what to expect not just for this summer but for the longer-term future in the qualification world
    • George Osborne’s 23 June Manchester speech sees a new rail network and flourishing universities as core ingredients of a booming Northern economy.

    Quotes of the month

    • “I would say freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and respect for British institutions.” The Prime Minister defines British values
    • “When I go to Tesco I don’t negotiate the prices and I guess you don’t either. But they know sure as anything I can go to Waitrose next door if I want and that drives value for money.” The Skills Minister on the shopping basket approach to apprenticeship funding
    • “When I was 7, maths meant workbooks, pencils and pocket calculators.” The Skills Minister on what learning was like before technology came along
    • “We wouldn’t accept a fifth of hospital operations going wrong of a fifth of flights ending badly. So why should we accept a system in which school standards were still too low?” Michael Gove on setting bars for school standards
    • “We’re not going to indulge in massive curriculum change, undoing what’s taken place.” Tristram Hunt tries to reassure
    • “It won’t be an easy summer but then I haven’t had an easy summer yet.” The Chief Executive of Ofqual on the anxieties of the summer results season.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Playlist.’ An online learning plan for students, apparently
    • ‘Mindfulness.’ The new in-demand skill for leaders.
    read more
  • Policy breakfast briefing: Education 2015

    May 7 2014 marked the one-year countdown to the UK's 2015 general election. We hosted a special policy breakfast briefing to consider what the election might have in store for education. You can watch the video here.

    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in April 2014

    The poet Robert Browning wrote that it was good to be back in England now that April was here. Others may look at how busy things have been in the world of education over the last month from exam reform, to skills training to student loans and wonder how true that is.

    Key headlines from the month

    • Problem-solving. 15 yr olds in England score highly in the latest PISA test results
    • PSHE. Education Committee announce new inquiry
    • GCSEs. Consultation on new grading scale published
    • GCSEs. Latest content requirements, assessment and scheduling all published
    • A levels. Latest developments for AS and A level also published
    • Tech Levels. 77 new ones announced for this Sept
    • Core Maths. Consultation on proposed technical guidance published
    • Exam reform. Education Committee announce new short sharp inquiry
    • UCAS. Launches proposals for new tariff
    • Careers. DfE publish latest statutory guidance
    • iDEA. New digital enterprise award for young people launched by the Duke of York
    • Regional Schools Commissioners. The first six now appointed
    • School teachers. Record numbers now working in schools
    • Head teachers. Work begins on new set of standards
    • Maths teachers. New Golden Hello scheme launched for FE
    • NAHT edge. NAHT’s new affiliate union announced
    • FE. Minister writes detailed end of term report
    • Adult literacy and numeracy. New research centre announced
    • LEPs. Labour promise support as part of new local growth plans
    • Student Loans. New student panel inquiry launched by Universities UK

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

    Speeches of the month

    • Liam Byrne’s 1st April Robbins Rebooted speech sets out the five standard principles guiding Labour’s review of HE funding
    • Matthew Hancock’s 1st April European Jobs and Skills Summit speech extols the current vocational reforms and calls for more research on the links between education and employment
    • Michael Gove’s 1st April British Chambers of Commerce speech sets a new ambition to eradicate illiteracy and innumeracy
    • David Willetts 3rd April Universities UK conference speech stresses the brighter side of UKHE with opportunities for growth, research, wider participation and economic returns all stressed
    • Ed Miliband’s 7th April local growth speech pledges a massive devolvement of responsibility to new city regions in a bid to stimulate local growth
    • Elizabeth Truss’s 7th April early years speech stresses the importance of Schools Direct and Teach First in helping raise the quality of early years provision
    • Elizabeth Truss’s 10 April Reform speech points to how some of the Government’s reforms are contributing to a self-improving system
    • Vince Cable’s 23rd April Cambridge Lecture proposes a strengthened high-level technician route

    Quotes of the month

    • “Our message is clear. There are no barriers to setting up a higher education campus. If this is your town’s dream we want you to pursue it.” The HE Minister supports those who dare to dream
    • “It’s now clear that what is proposed is a system that combines the worst of a free for all and a money pit.” Labour’s Liam Byrne on the HE funding system
    • “Let us now move away from our snobbish caste-ridden hierarchical obsession with university status.” Vince Cable on the Crosland vision for a high-level technical sector
    • “I believe the sector deserves credit for consistently improving performance as measured by Ofsted.” The FE Minister on an improving FE sector
    • Today’s 15 year olds are the Robinson Crusoes of a future that remains largely unknown to us.” The OECD on the journey for modern 15 year olds
    • “We must ensure no child grows up in modern Britain with their futures irredeemably blighted by illiteracy and innumeracy.” Michael Gove on a new mission
    • “We have had discussions with the Secretary of State and the exam boards holding the ring really on what is a manageable next phase of reform.” The Chief Executive of Ofqual on the latest wave of exam reforms

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Adultifying.’ What critics claim is being done to nursery education
    • “An individual’s capacity to engage in cognitive processing to understand and resolve problem situations where a method of solution is not immediately obvious.” PISA definition of problem-solving competence.
    read more