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

    A month which has seen the Budget, school inspections and accountability, apprenticeships, maths teaching and HE funding all emerge as key points of interest in various forms.

    These and the rather lengthy list of developments from the last four weeks listed below.

    Key headlines from the month

    • Children and Families Act 2014. Now passes
    • Free school lunches. Six-month countdown begins amid concerns about lack of planning
    • Nat curr levels. Most primary schools appear keen to retain them
    • Accountabilities. Primary and 16-19 arrangements confirmed
    • Maths hubs. DfE invite expressions of interest for these new centres of excellence
    • Shanghai maths. Minister launches Teacher Exchange scheme from this Sept
    • Core maths. ACME call for a smaller qualification to encourage take-up
    • Numeracy Challenge. National Numeracy aim to raise numeracy levels of 1m people in 5 yrs
    • School inspections. Ofsted works on a more proportionate model
    • 16-19 funding. EFA issue latest update
    • 18 yr old funding. Minister restricts cut to 2%
    • Jobs Guarantee. Labour extends its jobs scheme to cover a whole Parliamentary term
    • Apprenticeship Grant for Employers. Extended in the Budget for 2 more years
    • Apprenticeships. 44% of businesses pledge to take one on in the next 5 years
    • Apprenticeship Trailblazers. 29 more announced
    • Apprenticeship Funding. Latest technical consultation published
    • FE Learning Technology. FE awaits Ministerial response to latest FELTAG recommendations
    • HE. Teaching budgets for 2014/15 face 6% cut
    • HE. Oxbridge plus 8 others feature in the latest THES world rankings
    • HE-Business links. BIS Committee launches new inquiry

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

    Speeches of the month

    • Matthew Hancock’s 3rd March ‘You’re Hired’ speech highlights the importance of apprenticeships at the start of another National Apprenticeship Week
    • Matthew Hancock’s second speech on 3rd March focuses on the 3 Rs (rigour, responsiveness and a revolution in attitudes) that are driving reforms in the skills system
    • Michael Gove’s 3rd March vocational education speech claims that the current qualification and school reforms will help meet the requirements of the next industrial/technical revolution
    • Liam Byrne’s 3rd March ‘Future of Work’ speech offers 3 alternative reform options: develop the technical route; double apprenticeship numbers; strengthen the high-level voc route
    • Vince Cable’s 6th March Mansion House speech outlines two continuing dangers to economic recovery: lack of business lending especially to SMEs and low skill levels in key industries
    • Elizabeth Truss’s 12th March maths speech throws Government weight behind the efforts of the National Numeracy Challenge and the new All Party Numeracy Group of MPs
    • George Osborne’s 19th March Budget speech favours bingo, beer and pensioners but apart from apprenticeships has little to cheer the education world

    Quotes of the month

    • “Education is the best inoculation against unemployment.” The PM on taking the medicine
    • “It’s all part of a long-term economic plan-a plan that is delivering financial security for the people of this country.” The Chancellor explains his ‘cunning’ economic plan
    • “There are far too many badly needed craftsmen driving taxis or selling insurance.” Vince Cable illustrates the skills conundrum
    • “It’s time to call a halt to this descent into chaos.” Liam Byrne calls time on the current fee loans model
    • “They have a can-do attitude to maths and I want us to match that, and their performance.” Elizabeth Truss calls on the help of the high-performing Shanghai maths teachers
    • “Teachers work with passion. Inspectors deal in detachment. It can make for an uncomfortable cultural fit” Sir Michael Wilshaw on the nature of inspections
    • “Many jobs in education, often portrayed as a high-stress battleground, also provide higher than average job contentment.” The latest happiness index causes surprise in staffrooms

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Robulation.’ What the technical revolution is about to bring us
    • ‘Govean archipelago.’ Labour’s description of the current schools system.
    read more