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

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  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in June 2015

    Six weeks on from the election and the education agenda appears in full swing. 

    Key headlines from the month

    • Funding cuts. DfE and BIS budgets each facing cuts of £450m from current budgets
    • School funding. Possible developments around new formula due later this year
    • 16-19 funding. Signatories come together to urge the Chancellor to help
    • Childcare Bill. Bill published as taskforce set up to consider costs
    • Education Bill. Completes second reading
    • Primary schools. Pupil numbers in England up 2.1% in latest census
    • Coasting schools. Experts seek to define as the DfE confirms consultation
    • School Leadership. New profession-led Foundation announced
    • School behaviour. New practitioners’ panel set up
    • Ofsted. New inspection arrangements confirmed
    • National Reference Test. Ofqual explains all in letter to schools
    • GCSE grading. Education Secretary confirms L5 as the new ‘good pass’ grade
    • Singaporean maths. Beginning to have impact according to latest research
    • EBacc subjects. Government prepares to mainstream
    • 14-19. Labour leaders call for a full review of provision
    • A level science assessment arrangements. Ofqual consults
    • Voc Quals. Latest annual celebration heralded
    • Apprenticeships. New taskforce set up to oversee progress towards the 3m target
    • Training providers. Growth budgets frozen in build-up to the Budget
    • Institution for FE. Gains its Royal Charter
    • Adult participation. Up slightly though not for disadvantaged groups
    • FE. Skills Minister continues to muse about refining college missions
    • HE fees. Willetts suggests system working but needs 5-yearly MOT
    • Maintenance grants. Fears grow about their long-term future
    • Migration. Government calls for advice about new skills levy on Tier 2 visas. 

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

    • Perceptions of A levels, GCSEs, Other Quals in England. Ofqual’s latest annual survey of views on the quals system finds confidence still strong but concerns about some changes
    • Missing Talent. Commissioned research from the Sutton Trust looks at why children, especially bright boys from disadvantaged backgrounds, struggle to convert KS2 success into GCSE success
    • Education and Adoption Bill. The government sets out its new Bill intended to ‘speed up the turnaround of failing schools’ but leaves many details open for summer consultation
    • Outcomes of access agreement monitoring. OFFA reports on its monitoring of HE access agreements over 2013/14 and finds a drop in financial support but an increase in other support
    • HEPI/HEA 2015 Student Academic Experience Survey. Satisfaction remains high in this latest survey but students want more contact time and to know how the fees are being spent
    • Character nation. The think tank Demos in partnership with the Jubilee Centre call for a stronger focus on character development in schools in a new report
    • Council support for 16-19 participation. The latest survey from the Local Government Association finds councils having to reduce their levels of funding and support as cuts bite
    • A digital student learning experience. Eduserve finds a lack of funding, commitment and clear procurement policies hampering the management and provision of learning resources in FE
    • Developing Great Teaching. The Teacher Development Trust and TED Global get together to report on what makes for effective professional development for teachers
    • The Economic Role of UK Universities. Universities UK publishes its latest assessment of how much UK universities contribute to UK GDP and finds it now totalling nearly £40bn
    • Raising the Productive Potential of the Economy. The lifelong learning organisation NIACE lists some of the skills priorities ahead of the Chancellor’s Budget and Productivity Plan
    • Inspection Handbooks for Schools and for FE. Ofsted lays down the new arrangements and lists of things it will look for in inspections from this Sept
    • How to run a country: Education. The think tank Reform continues its build-up to the Spending Review by looking at how to make the school system more productive
    • Student Funding Panel. UUK’s Funding Panel reports on its year-long review into HE financing and concludes that while maintenance support needs changing, the fee system needs more time
    • Social Mobility Report. The Commission’s latest report highlights the barriers faced by many disadvantaged young people seeking entry into ‘top’ professions
    • Colleges and Employers. The AoC publishes a selection of case studies showing how colleges are working with employers to deliver the training and skills needed
    • College mergers and federations. BIS and the FE Commissioner offer best practice guidance for those thinking of taking the plunge
    • Heading for the precipice. Professor Alison Wolf makes a compelling case for re-balancing higher funding around technician training as the basis for economic recovery.  

    Speeches of the month

    • New HE Minister Jo Johnson’s 1 June speech to the Going Global Conference extols the virtues of international students and commits to helping the market grow
    • Nick Gibb’s 11 June Policy Exchange speech argues the case for core academic subjects to be at the heart of the curriculum for most pupils at KS4 but adds that consultation will follow
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 15 June ‘Future of Education Inspections’ speech confirms the new shorter, more frequent inspection model and other changes coming in from this September
    • Nicky Morgan’s 16 June King Solomon Academy speech sets out the new tough expectations on schools in areas like the provision of the EBacc, GCSE grading and pupil behaviour
    • Glenys Stacey’s 17 June Grammar School Heads Association speech updates on the latest developments in the GCSE and A level reform programme
    • Nicky Morgan’s 18 June Festival of Education speech commits to a long-term plan of excellence for all and confirms that education remains high on the agenda
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 18 June Festival of Education speech offers a paean of praise for teachers and challenges some of the unfair media portrayals of them
    • John Cridland’s 19 June Festival of Education speech re-opens debate about the nature of 14-19 learning and the need to incorporate skills, opportunities and guidance for all
    • David Cameron’s 22 June ‘Opportunity for all’ speech argues that the new tough stance on school improvement will help extend educational excellence to all. 

    Quotes of the month

    • “For as everyone knows, when it comes to living within your means, the sooner you start the smoother the ride.” The Chancellor on taking the rough before the smooth
    • “What the rest of the G7 finishes making on a Thursday afternoon takes us until the end of Friday to get done.” The Shadow Skills Minister highlights the issue of productivity
    • “I don’t want anyone to mistake stability for silence, to presume that education is no longer a priority for the government.” The Education Secretary on silence not being golden
    • “I would suggest a full-blooded commitment to building a proper 14-19 baccalaureate curriculum.” Tristram Hunt on where Labour’s education policy needs to go next
    • “The general sense we’re getting from heads is that it’s worse than 2002.” The chief executive of Teach First on an impending teacher recruitment crisis
    • “It won’t be a cliff-edge experience.” The Chief Inspector on the new inspections
    • “I want to see the date for the last ever GCSE circled in the Education Secretary’s diary.” The DG of the CBI wants a sell-by date on GCSEs. 

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Funsultant.’ For when staff need perking up … 
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in May 2015

    The month may have brought an unanticipated general election result but its been pretty much business as usual ever since, especially for the world of education where familiar faces returned to their Ministerial desks ready to start work on implementing some of the 38 education-related manifesto commitments.

    For schools, where Nicky Morgan was quickly out of the stalls promising to tackle so-called ‘coasting’ and struggling schools, the new Education Bill has enshrined new intervention and academy conversion powers but left open the question of just what a ‘coasting’ school is. Either way, the issue of school performance is set to run through the rest of this year. For FE, who will have more than one eye on the forthcoming Summer Budget, its ability to deliver required training volumes particularly for the young and low-skilled who have been the subject of a couple of fairly bleak OECD reports this month, will remain under scrutiny. As for HE, where there was little new either in the Conservative manifesto or the Queen’s Speech, the challenge of creating a high-level technical route remains as does the visa issue as the recent Immigration Bill indicates.   

    Key headlines from the month

    • Early Years. The Pre-School Alliance sets out a post-election manifesto plan
    • Children. The Children’s Commissioner publishes a 7-point vision for the new government
    • Reading. Latest National Literacy Trust survey finds more children reading for pleasure
    • 49%. The no of MPs who had a comprehensive education according to the Sutton Trust
    • Arts subjects. 2 Organisations join forces to call for greater opportunities in the school curriculum
    • EAL. The Education Endowment Foundation invites bids to undertake more research
    • GCSE maths. Sample assessment materials to be amended following Ofqual research
    • A level subject take-up. Ofsted reveals the gender differences
    • ‘Coasting’ schools. The government targets them as others try and define them
    • Regional School Commissioners. Education Bill proposes new intervention powers
    • Free schools. Next round of applications opens
    • College of Teaching. New survey suggests 80% of teachers would support
    • Teacher recruitment. Concerns grow as recruitment pipeline slows
    • Careers. Government turns to Jobcentre Plus advisers for extra help
    • Apprenticeships. AoC blog looks at ways of meeting the government’s 3m challenge
    • Apprenticeship numbers. Statutory annual reporting on progress to be made
    • FE inspections. Ofsted confirms it’ll scrap graded lesson observations from Sept
    • FE impact. 157 Group report suggests av impact of a college on its community can be £550m
    • FE staff (1). UCU survey highlights increasing levels of workforce stress
    • FE staff (2.) The Education and Training Foundation launches new professional body
    • HE. Universities UK builds up its campaign for the UK to stay in the EU
    • Devo max. Core Cities and LGA publish proposals for further local devolution
    • Local Gov Devolution Bill. Government proposes new legislative framework.

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

    • Improving Schools in Sweden. The OECD assesses what changes are needed to help the country regain its former educational glory
    • Universal Basic Skills. Another hefty OECD report this time highlighting the importance of basic skills for young people where the UK ranks 20th in the OECD ranking of 76 countries
    • The new digital learning age. The RSA examines the role of technology in learning and highlights some ways in which its potential could be unleashed
    • Technology, Distraction and Student Performance. The Centre for Economic Performance examines the impact of mobile phones in schools and concludes they can be a hindrance
    • London Calling. Business firm London First and PWC crunch the numbers and calculate that international students bring a net benefit of £2.8bn a year to UK GDP
    • The accounting and budgeting of student loans. A new pamphlet for the HE Policy Institute delves into the impact of current loan repayment arrangements on future policy making
    • English Devolution. The Local Government Association makes the case for wider devolution of responsibilities ahead of the Cities Devolution Bill
    • GCSE maths. Ofqual publishes the full research report and subsequent required actions following its investigation into assessment standards in GCSE maths
    • Summer Exam Entries. The latest stats from Ofqual on exam entries for summer 2015 show a drop in GCSE and AS entries but an increase for L1/2 Certificates and A levels
    • OECD Skills outlook 2015 on Youth, Skills and Employability. The OECD builds on its 2013 adult skills survey and finds a depressing scene for many young people especially the low-skilled
    • The economic impact of FE colleges. The 157 Group and economic modelling experts EMSI point to the positive economic benefits of colleges on learners, communities and the taxpayer
    • Grade point average (GPA.) The HE Academy reports on its 2-year pilot project to develop a more finessed hons degree classification system based around a GPA scale.  

    Speeches of the month

    • The Prime Minister’s 8 May election victory speech sets out the principles for the new majority Tory administration including better schools and more apprenticeships
    • George Osborne’s 14 May Northern Powerhouse speech outlines government plans to encourage local councils and LEPs to take a lead in planning local skills training and other functions
    • Sajid Javid’s 19 May Business enterprise speech confirms a number of measures to support small businesses and enterprise as part of a new Enterprise Bill
    • George Osborne’s 20 May CBI speech highlights deficit reduction, a re-balanced economy and increased productivity as the three pillars of the government’s economic plan
    • The Prime Minister’s 21 May immigration speech includes calls for more training of the indigenous population and continued curbs on cases of visa abuse
    • The Queen’s Speech of 27 May lists 26 prospective Bills for the forthcoming Parliament with at least six of particular interest to the world of education.

    Quotes of the month

    • “We can make Britain a place where a good life is in reach for everyone who is willing to work and do the right thing.” The PM promises the good life on his return to Downing street
    • “Just good enough is no longer good enough.” The Education Secretary outlines the case against mediocrity in schools”
    • “A coasting definition will set be set out in due course according to a number of factors.” The new Education and Adoption Bill says a definition is coming
    • “My budget is shrinking.” A head writes an open letter to the Ed Secretary as she returns to her desk
    • There are only two things that parents can ever say to teenagers taking their exams. The wrong thing. And the wrong thing.” Pressure builds as another exam season looms
    • “GCSE and A levels are like an egg timer squeezing a wealth of experience and learning through a narrow bottleneck of testing.” The departing head of Eton on the modern exam factory
    • “The results suggest that low-achieving students are more likely to be distracted by the presence of mobile phones while high achievers can focus regardless.” Latest on the mobile phone debate.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘One Nation.’  What the government says it’s aiming to create over the next five years. 
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in March 2015

    The last days of business for this Parliament have seen 11 think tank reports, 8 government reports, 3 agency reports, a Budget and half a dozen key speeches. Just the election to come. 

    Key headlines from the month

    • Baseline testing. Early years groups call for it to be dropped
    • Assessment commission. DfE lists the membership
    • Careers. DfE issues latest guidance
    • GCSE science. Ofqual confirms new approach to assessment of practical work
    • GCSE, A levels. Ofqual map out final reform programme
    • Free Schools. A future Conservative government would create 500 more
    • Academy chains. Government considers performance metrics
    • School places. Announced for secondary schools for 2015/16 as bulge starts to hit
    • School funding. MPs debate transition to national funding formula
    • 14-19. CBI call for further review
    • Post-16 courses. Operational guidance for new database issued
    • Functional Skills. Not broken but could be improved according to latest report
    • STEM teachers. New incentives, bursary and fast track procedures announced
    • National College of Teaching. Government commits to some funding
    • Teacher CPD. Expert group to develop new standards
    • School inspections. Ofsted confirms what its looking for
    • FE. Minister offers latest progress report
    • FE funding system. NAO to investigate and report in the summer
    • Degree Apprenticeships. 9 more announced covering key sectors
    • Apprenticeship funding. New digital voucher scheme announced
    • HEFCE funding. 2015/16 allocations published.

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

    • Bridging the Social Divide Report. The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission issues a five point call on closing the gap as political Parties limber up for the election
    • The Next LEPs. The think tank Localis reports on its survey of LEPs and calls for skills funding to be part of a devolved system of LEP driven local planning and funding over the next 5 years
    • Careers Education in the Classroom. TeachFirst adds to the growing volume of reports on the inadequate state of schools careers guidance as it launches a programme for its own recruits
    • The most able students. Ofsted follows up an earlier report into how well secondary schools are providing for the most able and concludes progress has been pretty slow
    • Reading: The next steps. The DfE includes book clubs and poetry recitals as ways of improving reading standards in primary schools in a report to mark World Book Day
    • The Commission on Apprentices. The think tank Demos concludes its year-long inquiry into apprenticeships in Construction and elsewhere with a call to strengthen quality and status
    • Education Manifesto. The think tank Policy Exchange makes recommendations in seven areas ranging from early years to lifelong learning in its pre-election manifesto
    • Apprenticeships and traineeships for 16-19 year olds. The Education Committee includes recommendations on quality and careers in its report on work-based learning for young people
    • A Rising Tide. The think tank Policy Exchange examines the evidence around Free Schools and argues that the case for extending the template is now proven
    • Costing the sixth form curriculum. The Sixth Form Colleges Association sets out the real cost of providing a post-16 curriculum and suggests cuts are making this difficult
    • First Year Process Evaluation. BIS commissioned research finds happy trainees and good progression rates from the first year of this programme
    • Evaluation of Apprenticeship Trailblazers. BIS commissioned research reflects on some of the issues surrounding the Trailblazer model of apprenticeship design
    • The Future of Higher Vocational Education. The Vice-Chancellors of Sheffield and Warwick Universities get together to sketch out a new vision to be led by some of the ‘top’ universities
    • Apprenticeship Reforms. The government charts out progress so far
    • Closing the gap: the work of the Education Committee in the 2010-2015 Parliament. The Committee reflects on its work over the last five years and its focus on closing the gap
    • The distribution of school funding and inputs in England: 1993-2013. The Institute of Fiscal Studies finds much of it aimed at deprived schools and at non-teaching numbers
    • Extremism in Schools: the Trojan Horse affair. The Education Committee reports on the lessons are to be learned from the affair and highlights a lack of inter-agency collaboration
    • Language Trends 2014/15. The CfBT and British Council’s latest annual survey of language learning in schools reports a slow trudge in attracting more young people to take up languages
    • Budget 2015. The big fat Budget Book spells out the details
    • Academies and Free Schools. The government confirms it remains keen to extend academisation as it responds to the recent Education Committee Inquiry
    • A dual mandate for adult vocational education. BIS launches a hefty consultation to help set a new vision for adult voc learning around skills training and second chance opportunities
    • Making maths and English work for all. Latest commissioned report finds the case for Functional Skills remaining strong but some changes to content and assessment needed
    • After the QCF. Ofqual launches consultation on a new, more flexible framework
    • Moving on up. The think tank IPPR add their thoughts to the growing 14-19 great debate calling for clearer definition, coherence and purpose to the whole upper-secondary system
    • Financial health of the HE sector 2013/14-2016/17. HEFCE offers its regular clinical analysis of how the HE sector finances are bearing up and despite wide variations finds positives
    • Education in chains. The think tank Reform make the case for reform through collaboration.

    Speeches of the month

    • The Prime Minister’s 9 March Free School speech continues the ‘all-out war’ on mediocrity in schools by proposing a massive increase in Free School numbers
    • Chuka Umunna’s 10 March apprenticeships speech highlights the 4 features of Labour’s voc policy (more apprenticeships, HE ladder, responsive provision, college branding)
    • Nick Clegg’s 15 March Spring Conference speech lays claim to the Party’s role in protecting schools budgets and brining in greater fairness through the Pupil premium
    • George Osborne’s 18 March Budget speech sets out to make Britain walk tall but continues the theme of austerity for at least the next three years
    • Tristram Hunt’s 20 March ASCL speech suggests new technology, new school forms and new ways of learning can help move things on from an exam factory model of schooling
    • Glenys Stacey’s 20 March ASCL speech highlights some of the competing tensions that lie behind qualification reform as she explains how progress is going in the current reforms
    • Nicky Morgan’s 21 March ASCL speech continues to praise teachers but prefers to keep curriculum decisions in the hands of ministers.

    Quotes of the month

    • “What these schools have achieved is frankly remarkable.” The Prime Minister on Free Schools
    • “People still think apprenticeships are for brickies and mechanics only.” The Skills Minister on dispelling myths about apprenticeships
    • “The plan is working. Britain is walking tall again.” The Chancellor on his Budget
    • “We get vocational education.” The Shadow Business Secretary on what Labour gets
    • “Thank you, let’s hope we don’t have to see you back again.” The chair of the Public Accounts Committee concludes its inquiry into funding by alternative HE providers
    • “I call it the cult of the big reformer.” The Shadow Ed Sec on toning down alpha male reforms.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Empowerment lounge.’ Apparently all good schools should have one. 
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in February 2015

    It’s been a month which has seen education power up the agenda as this month’s listing shows.

    Key headlines from the month

    • Baseline assessments. DfE lists approved providers
    • Primary assessment. DfE launches new commission to review best practice
    • Class sizes. Labour pledges to restrict to 30 for 5,6,7 yr olds
    • School places. DfE puts in more money to cover next 3 years
    • 11 yr olds. The Education Secretary plans new benchmark standards
    • GCSEs/A levels. DfE and Ofqual publishes regs and guidance for 2016 batch
    • Science practicals. Ofqual confirms new uncoupled arrangements at A level
    • Maths. Cambridge Maths launch new manifesto to raise maths standards
    • PSHE. Education Committee calls for the subject to be beefed up
    • ALCAB. A level content advisory body stood down ‘for the time being’
    • Teacher Workloads. Debates continue about whether real issues tackled
    • Academies. The government plans to extend to schools requiring improvement 
    • School funding. The government sticks to ‘flat-cash,’ Labour and Lib-Dems plan protection
    • Inspections. Ofsted confirms shorter more frequent inspections from Sept 2015
    • Sixth Form Colleges. MPs sign up to removing the VAT burden
    • Work experience. Labour promise it for 14-16 yr olds as UKCES find it’s drying up
    • Apprenticeships. Labour pledges to create 80,000 more a year
    • Voc Quals. Ofqual announces consultation on new post QCF framework
    • FE. Further squeeze on adult skills budget signalled in latest funding letter
    • North East. Gets a new Growth Deal
    • UCAS. Gearing up to include applications to European as well as UK universities
    • HE. HEFCE publishes latest Business Plan
    • HE regulation. UUK proposes new statutory body
    • HE tuition fees. Labour confirms plans to cut fees by a third
    • HE participation. OFFA calls for faster progress on fair access at selective universities
    • Alternative HE providers. Public Accounts Committee expresses concerns about quality and costs
    • UKMoocs. Tops a million learners. 

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

    Speeches of the month

    • Greg Clark’s 4 February HEFCE Annual Conference speech acknowledges how important HE is to the country and what the government is doing to support it
    • Gleny Stacey’s 4 February Association of Colleges Examining officers speech explains what changes Ofqual is making to improve the exam system including the changes to practical work
    • David Cameron’s 10 February British Chambers of Commerce speech spells out how the government has been supporting business and pledges more of the same to help growth
    • Ed Balls’ 10 February British Chambers of Commerce speech calls for a new industrial policy, a competitive tax system and reform rather than exit from the EU
    • Glenys Stacey’s 12 February speech to the Skills Summit sets out Ofqual’s approach to regulating adult voc quals and announces consultation on a new framework
    • Ed Miliband’s 16 February industrial plan speech pledges more apprenticeships as part of a range of measures to raise productivity and prosperity for all
    • Glenys Stacey’s 25 February Next Steps speech sets out progress being made in reforming GCSEs and A levels and warns against throwing it all away
    • Nick Gibb’s 25 February Reform speech sets out government thinking on primary assessment and what the government is hoping for from the current reforms.

    Quotes of the month

    • “No one wants their child to go to a failing school and no one wants them to go to a coasting school either.” The Prime Minister on raising school standards
    • "I’m not saying that every Labour minister under the last administration was universally loved but…” .” Ed Miliband promises a new beginning for teachers
    • “It is worth noting that the average college has made 105 redundancies since 2009/10.” The Chief Ex of the AoC on the pressures in FE as the latest funding letter brings more bad news
    • “I would ask any incoming government to consider carefully before tinkering under the bonnet of GCSEs and A levels in the near future.” The Chief Exc of Ofqual on sticking to plan
    • “We do not believe your proposals will get close to the root cause of the workload problem. “ Teacher unions write to the Education Secretary about the workforce reforms.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • 'Polyanna creep.’ To try and show things in a better light. 
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in January 2015

    Election year has got off to a flyer with plenty happening around education but little sense of any grand new vision. Reports on Academies, apprentice funding, FS and HEQA have all set the tone.

    Key headlines from the month

    • Key dates. DfE publishes main 2015 diary dates for schools and colleges 
    • Early Years Pupil Premium. Over £1m given to first local authorities
    • KS2 tests. Arrangements for 2015 published
    • Child illiteracy. Nick Clegg pledges to eradicate by 2025
    • Character Awards. Schools and organisations invited to apply
    • Well-being. First head of well-being in a UK secondary school to be trialled
    • GCSE D/T. Introduction put back a year to 2017
    • Computing. Government pledges new support for teachers
    • AS levels. UCAS survey reveals latest picture on proposed take-up
    • GCSEs/AS/A’ levels. Content and assessment info for 2016 starts published
    • Initial Teaching Training. Outcomes of latest review published
    • Head teachers. New national excellence standards published
    • Education Endowment Fund. Provides new tool to help close attainment gaps
    • School places. 78% of local authorities said to be under pressure for primary places
    • Free Schools. 256 now open and a further 111 preparing to in latest DfE listing
    • Grammar schools. MPs debate future funding
    • Sixth Form Colleges. Celebrities join the call to remove VAT costs
    • Destination data. Latest (2013) figures for KS4/KS5 learners show mixed picture
    • League Tables. Latest tables reflect impact of new tougher rules
    • Teach Too. Phase 2 (of teaching partnership projects with industry) launched
    • Functional Skills. ETF launch their review as Ofqual report on theirs
    • Soft skills. New employer-led campaign launched
    • Apprenticeship funding. Government calls for more time to review options
    • Growth Deals. Government allocates further £1bn
    • HEFCE. Offers best practice models for universities to demonstrate how they spend funds
    • P/T students. Down 7% on the previous year in latest stats
    • Graduates. Booming job market for some in latest high fliers report
    • Widening HE participation. New national outreach networks launched
    • Uni applications. Up 2% overall on last year in UCAS latest figures
    • Private HE providers. Form a new independent grouping.

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

    • Update from UUK’s Student Funding Panel. Universities UK outlines initial issues emerging from its Panel looking into UK student funding and due to report before the election
    • Engineering UK 2015. The sector’s latest annual report calls for a big increase in engineering apprentices and graduates needed to fill an annual current shortfall of 55,000 skilled workers
    • Government Response on Apprenticeship Funding. The government finds little support for either of its two proposed models and calls for more time to rethink options
    • The Value of Soft Skills to the UK Economy. McDonalds publishes a commissioned report showing that so-called soft skills are crucial to individuals and worth £88bn to the UK economy
    • The future of quality assessment in HE. The Steering Group reviewing options issues a call for thoughts as it considers initial principles
    • Youth Index 2015. The Prince’s Trust releases its annual testing of the pulse of young people and finds many, especially the low-skilled, at a very low ebb and anxious about their future
    • Unpacking Qualification Reform. UCAS finds 66% of schools and colleges surveyed will offer standalone AS quals but calls for continued dialogue with admissions officers
    • National standards of excellence for head teachers. The DfE prepares to go ahead with five of the six recommendations accompanying the revised prof standards for head teachers
    • Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training. Sir Andrew Carter publishes the results of his review into ITT and calls for a new independent body to set a future framework
    • Making Reforms Happen. The OECD reviews education reforms in different countries over recent years and laments the lack of proper evaluation of what works
    • Progress matters in Primary too. The think tank CentreForum makes the case for pupil progress as the main measure of primary school accountability in a report supported by Pearson
    • 16-18 year old participation. The Public Accounts Committee continues to express concerns that government initiatives aren’t properly evaluated and that too many young people disappear
    • Growth Dashboard. The government publishes its latest inventory of government and sector performance against its key industrial and economic targets
    • Our Reflections. The Education Technology Action Group (ELTAG) offer their thoughts on future development of learning and assessment technology
    • Reformed GCSE and A level subject content consultation. The DfE and Ofqual publish the latest batch of content and assessment information on these 2016 starts
    • Improving Functional Skills Qualifications. Ofqual puts forwards four reform proposals to help improve standards and assessment and pledges to return in the autumn to review progress
    • Academies and Free Schools. The Education Committee finds no conclusive evidence that they have yet raised standards or closed gaps and calls for greater transparency on future strategy
    • School oversight and intervention. The Public Accounts Committee calls for greater clarity in where responsibilities lie in overseeing the school system.

    Speeches of the month

    • Sir David Bell’s 9 January ASE speech calls for reforms to A levels, changes to the provision of teacher training and for a new body to oversee curriculum development
    • Nicky Morgan’s 19 January Education World Forum speech continues to advocate the case for teachers as ‘gifted, dedicated professionals who regularly go the extra mile’
    • Nicky Morgan’s 21 January BETT speech pledges additional match funding and support to help train the next generation of computing teachers
    • Nick Gibb’s 22 January OECD Education Policy Outlook speech outlines how selected international evidence has helped drive forward the government’s education reforms
    • Tristram Hunt’s 22 January BETT speech highlights how the digital revolution provides education with an opportunity to transform academic and vocational learning
    • Nicky Morgan’s 27 January Politeia speech stresses the importance of a knowledge-based curriculum as part of her vision for education. 

    Quotes of the month

    • “I was interested in education before but it has been a steep learning curve, there’s lots of education lingo and acronyms.” The Education Secretary on getting to grips with the job
    • “I am desperate for a conversation that leaves behind the incendiary rhetoric of the Blob and the class war.” The Shadow Education Secretary on debating education in the election
    • “Current evidence does not allow us to draw conclusions on whether academies in themselves are a positive force for change.” The Education Committee is left uncertain about academies
    • “Young people who have five or more A*-C GCSEs rate their happiness higher than those who don’t.” The Prince’s Trust assesses the mood of young people in its latest Youth Index
    • “To date, I think we’d be better spending the money on recruiting and training great teachers and sticking them in front of old-fashioned blackboards.” NAHT’s Russell Hobby on edtech
    • “If the culture is right, it’s a calm and orderly place, the head is marching round corridors making sure children are behaving themselves and doing well.” Sir Michel Wilshaw on good schools. 

    Word or phrase of the month

    ‘To greenhouse.’ To nurture an idea. 

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