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 September 2015

    The start of another education year and no shortage of activity as per below. 

    Key headlines from the month

    • Summer born children. Government planning to allow deferred school entry
    • Assessment without levels. Government responds to final report
    • Phonics standards. Up 3% to 77% for Yr 1’s this year
    • Literacy. Nicky Morgan launches latest drive to get more books in schools
    • IT. BT steps up support for primary schools with more training and resources
    • Money for Mandarin. Chancellor pledges £10m
    • Free Schools. Government pledges biennial waves every year to 2020
    • Academies/free schools. Labour indicates an interest in greater local control
    • Admissions appeals. Up 8% this year
    • Lie-ins. Some teenagers to be given longer lie ins to assess impact on GCSE results
    • Smartphones in class. New behaviour group to look at
    • ParentInfo. Government launches new online tool to help parents keep up with teenage trends
    • Core maths. New post-16 programmes launched
    • 2017 GCSEs and A levels. DfE and Ofqual consult
    • Qual reforms. Ofqual sends out postcards to explain
    • Enterprise advisers. Careers and Enterprise Company rolls out its new network
    • Teachers CPD. Taskforce calls for views
    • Inspections. New inspection teams for new inspection approach
    • College of Teaching. New trustees announced
    • Education Bill. Heads to the Lords
    • Enterprise Bill. Starts its journey at the Lords
    • Apprenticeships. Statutory definition included in the Enterprise Bill
    • Area-based reviews. Latest list updated
    • FE English/maths teachers. ETF launches latest training modules for teachers
    • English/maths GCSE 16-19 resits. Funding conditions relaxed
    • RQF. Ofqual outlines arrangements for the new post QCF quals framework
    • Local devolution. AoC group to review of impact on skills and FE
    • Undergrad numbers. UCAS report 3% increase for UKHE for 2015/16
    • Degree awarding powers. Minister lifts moratorium
    • Office of the Independent Adjudicator. Extends its remit into other HE settings
    • Support for women at uni. Universities UK commissioned to set up new taskforce
    • Campus extremism. HEFCE launches consultation on compliance with new Prevent duty
    • HE quality assessment. BIS Committee announces new inquiry.  

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

    Speeches of the month

    • Nick Gibb’s 5 Sept ResearchED speech highlights the traditional virtues of good teaching and learning and how the government is supporting them
    • Jo Johnson’s 9 Sept Universities UK speech sets out the key principles behind his forthcoming Green Paper for the sector and gets Vice-Chancellors talking as a result
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 10 Sept School Improvement speech highlights 3 concerns: regional differences; primary-secondary transition; and the long tail of underachievement
    • David Cameron’s 11 September speech sets out 3 principles (innovation, devolution, efficiency) for making the state smarter and more effective
    • Nicky Morgan’s 24 Sept child literacy speech teams up with David Walliams again to launch the next phase of support and activity.  

    Quotes of the month

    • “Across Whitehall we’re looking in every dept at budgets that aren’t protected.” Nicky Morgan on the dangers of a lack of protection ahead of the Spending Review
    • “We are not rushing to judgement though the silence is ominous.” Vince Cable and Chuka Umunna join forces to reflect on the government’s industrial policy
    • “It’s akin to Byron burger having to ask permission of McDonalds to open up a new restaurant.” The HE Minister on finding validation partners in HE
    • “My biggest frustration with the media coverage is the awful word Oxbridge.” The V.C of Cambridge on the need for distinctiveness
    • “I think fragile is the way to put it.” The Education Secretary on the mood in FE
    • “We don’t ask much from government, usually it’s best if they keep out of the way but a sustainable supply of well trained staff and the resources we need to deploy them-these are the basics and they’re under threat.” The gen secretary of NAHT on the basic tools
    • “The government should gather a panel of experts to design a model curriculum. This content would then be laid out in a logical, sequential format: year by year, term by term.” How to design a curriculum by a former superhead
    • “Any head worth their salt should stand up and ban them.” Sir M Wilshaw on mobiles in school. 

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Cultural appeasers.’ School leaders who acquiesce rather than challenge, according to Ofsted
    • ‘Disengagement contracts.’ What lies behind a lot of poor teaching according to the HE Minister. 
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in August 2015

    Results month of course with Key Stage 2, GCSE, AS/A and vocational results all reporting and coming under heavy media scrutiny for much of the month accordingly.

    Overall the results were regarded as ‘stable’ with only minimal year on year changes although with more 11 year olds achieving expected levels in reading, writing and maths, more 16/17 year olds gaining requisite GCSEs, more entries in core A level subjects, more securing places at university and more interest in apprenticeship routes, there was a lot to welcome. Nor should we forget the UK team who performed heroically in this month’s World Skills event in Rio. Attention is now turning to the new education year where Academies, assessment levels, the EBacc, the Education Bill, the Apprenticeship Levy, 16+ funding and the HE Teaching Excellence Framework, to mention just a few of the items listed below, are already jostling for attention.

    Key headlines from the month

    • KS2 results. 80% of 11 yr olds achieve standard L4 in this year’s reading, writing and math tests
    • Parental prosecutions for children’s school absences. Up 25% in latest stats
    • Back to School gear. Pupils on average now carry around £270 of tech gear in their bags
    • Child literacy. Government launches new book club scheme
    • Mental health. DfE appoints first ever champion for schools
    • EBacc. 87% of teachers against compulsory introduction according to ASCL survey
    • GCSE results. Stable, 69% A*-Cs but impact of government policy on entry and trends evident 
    • A levels. 98.1% overall pass rate, growth of core subjects, some regional variation
    • Chinese style maths lessons. Government keen to expand
    • Wales. Gets its own qualifications regulatory body
    • Grade predictions. Cambridge Assessment highlight the challenges
    • Teachers as exam markers. Debate hots up as need for more intensifies
    • Initial teacher training. National Audit Office to examine and report before Christmas
    • Estelle Morris. Heads up new school improvement partnership in Birmingham
    • Inspections. Ofsted publishes sector leaflets and final details as new framework looms  
    • Education Bill. Unions unite to highlight concerns
    • Academy schools. The PM aims for clean sweep
    • Regional Schools Commissioners. Government said to be revising role
    • Sixth Form Colleges. Struggling with cuts according to latest funding survey
    • Career Colleges. Lord Baker proposes 25 more over next 4 years
    • 16-18 NEETs. Down to 7.5% in latest (April-June) stats
    • FE. New AoC President identifies 3 priorities (College influence, reputation, values)
    • FE funding. SFA replaces 2 advisory groups with new localism group
    • L2 English. All public-facing public sector workers to have it
    • Apprenticeship Levy. Government launches consultation on some operational details
    • Apprenticeships. Barnardo’s calls for some to be reserved for youngsters in care
    • Skills quals. SFA clamps down on further approvals for rest of financial year
    • World Skills. UK emerges with 3 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze, 20+ medallions
    • Post QCF. Ofqual confirm future info and arrangements
    • National Living Wage. Government issues further explanatory statement
    • Tuition fees. Uni of Law promise refunds where graduates fail to secure jobs after 9 months
    • Uni entry. Entries up 3% on last year in latest end of month stats
    • HE students. Record (77%) numbers of uni students now working to fund their courses
    • Student Satisfaction. Remains at 86% in latest National Student Survey
    • Alternative providers. HEFCE publishes latest info on applications and re-designation.

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

    • Private Pay Progression. The Sutton Trust and upReach crunch the figures and conclude that privately educated graduates secure bigger and quicker pay rises than state school peers
    • Labour Market Outlook. CIPD’s latest employer survey suggests a brighter picture for young job hunters and apprentices in particular
    • Funding Impact Survey Report. The Sixth Form Colleges Association paints a bleak picture as its latest survey finds cuts biting ever deeper
    • Quality Assessment Review. QAA responds to the current review of HE QA arrangements with some additional proposals of its own to enhance the quality of students’ academic experience
    • The graduate labour market: an uncomfortable truth. The Edge Foundation argues that some labour market data is not all it seems and some jobs don’t require degrees
    • Can the 3m target for apprenticeships be achieved? The Institute of the Motor Industry surveys employers and concludes careers advice and employability skills need to improve
    • Over qualification and sills mismatch in the graduate labour market. CIPD report on the graduate labour market and suggest oversupply is leading to a mismatch between skills and jobs
    • The Good Childhood Report 2015. The latest annual Report from the Children’s Society reveals it’s not all good with many worrying about bullying, school life and low esteem
    • Business plan 2015-2016. The Skills Funding Agency’s latest Business Plan sticks with five core objectives but recognises a more challenging environment
    • Progress 8 measure in 2016 and 2017. The DfE issues further guidance on the Progress 8 accountability measure with particular reference to schools who have chosen to opt in early
    • Apprenticeships Levy. The government’s opening consultation on how the levy system should operate from 2017 leaves many of the practical details still to be resolved
    • Crossing the Line.  The think tank Policy Exchange continues the levy theme by proposing that schools should pay a ‘resit’ levy to help cover the costs of GCSE Eng/maths resits in FE
    • The Common Inspection Framework. Ofsted publishes the final version of its new common inspection framework and issues handbooks and leaflets for each respective sector
    • The Chancellor’s Choices. The think tank IPPR suggest a more ‘progressive’ set of choices for the Chancellor including protecting 16-19 funding as it submits its ideas for the Spending Review. 

    Speeches of the month

    • The Prime Minister’s ‘first 100 days’ progress statement lists the economy as the central task but also puts school reform and standards high up the government’s future agenda
    • Nick Gibb’s 25 August Researchers in Schools speech extols the benefits of ‘evidence-based’ research and the potential benefits it can bring modern teaching and learning. 

    Quotes of the month

    • “I profoundly believe this is the right direction for our country because I want teachers not bureaucrats deciding how best to educate our children.” The PM on rolling out Academies
    • “If you think there is a better way to do things we want to know.” The Chancellor invites views on where cuts could be made as the Spending Review gets under way
    • “Much of what is spent goes on health and safety or senior management rather than improving skills on the shop floor.” The BIS Secretary on employer investment in apprenticeships
    • “I will propose a reformed funding model for post-18 education, looking at a graduate tax to replace tuition fees and support for apprenticeships.” Labour leader contender Andy Burnham
    • “Clearing is no longer the education equivalent of the bargain basement.” Uni of Bedford V.C. Bill Rammell calls for changes to the University Clearing system
    • “There will be more people starting university this autumn than were getting 5 good GCSEs a couple of decades ago.” The BBC’s Education Correspondent on the scramble for uni places
    • “The sector cannot survive on starvation rations.” Sixth Form Colleges tighten the belt
    • “It’s more important than ever that you don’t use your children’s results to boost your parental ego.” One parent’s advice about Results Day.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • 'Alphabet.’ New Google language
    • ‘Learning Gain.’ Something governments are keen to measure.
    read more
  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in July 2015

    A month in which the traditional rush to get things out before the summer break was clearly evident.  

    Key headlines from the month

    • Reception. Baseline assessment providers confirmed
    • Phonics. Government offers grants to help share good practice
    • Assessment. Review announced to consider how to assess pupils with low attainment
    • Assessment without levels. Commission report now set for Sept
    • Mindfulness. Wellcome Trust launch major new trial in secondary schools
    • 2017 GCSEs, AS, A levels. DfE and Ofqual consult on content and assessment
    • PSHE. Caroline Lucas MP re-introduces Bill on it
    • Prevent. New duty on schools to help ‘prevent’ young people being drawn into terrorism
    • Coasting schools. DfE draft definition
    • Inspections. New arrangements outlined in a letter to schools
    • Performance tables. Government confirms changes to 2015 arrangements
    • School funding. Rates for 2016/17 set
    • Child Poverty. Attainment at age of 16 to be included in new measures
    • School to work. NIACE set up new website
    • Social Mobility. Lords Committee takes evidence of impact on young people
    • Teachers’ Pay. Limited to 1% increase a year for each of next 4 years
    • RSCs. Education Committee to conduct an autumn inquiry
    • NEETs. Local council score cards to be published each summer
    • Apprenticeships. New Delivery Board set up, trailblazer guidance updated
    • Apprenticeships. Government consults on correct usage of term
    • Functional Skills. Government commissions more work
    • 25 + yr olds. Entitled to new National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour from April 2016
    • FE funding. SFA confirms nature of cuts for 2015/16
    • FE. Government announces area-based reviews
    • Cornwall. Becomes first county to sign initial devo deal
    • HE. Universities UK launches ‘stay in EU’ campaign
    • Maintenance grants. Replaced by loans for new entrants from 2016/17
    • HE funding. HEFCE confirms cuts for 2014/15, 2015/16
    • HE fees. Commission calls for OBR-led review.

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

    Speeches of the month

    • Jo Johnson’s 1 July UUK speech sets out the three core manifesto objectives (teaching excellence/value for money/extending opportunity) that the Minister intends to pursue
    • Nicky Morgan’s 1 July Sutton Trust speech calls for schools to apply a more targeted approach to the use of pupil premium funds
    • George Osborne’s 8 July Budget speech includes significant changes to welfare, living wage, apprenticeship funding and HE as part of a new, 5 year settlement with the country
    • Tristram Hunt’s 9 July Education Reform speech summons the spirit of Jim Callaghan’s Great debate as he calls for ‘bottom-up’ thinking on a Nat Bacc and other matters
    • Nick Gibb’s 9 July Education Reform speech grapples with the purpose of education and comes up with a love of knowledge, preparation for life and developing the skills for the future
    • Jo Johnson’s 16 July science speech outlines the ingredients of what’s termed a ‘One Nation Science’ strategy built around regional mapping, STEM support and greater diversity
    • Nicky Morgan’s 16 July creative arts speech declares her and her government’s unwavering support for the creative arts in schools
    • Nicky Morgan’s 29 July Teach First speech offers teachers more working groups to help consider reductions in workloads, better CPD and support for the College of Teaching.

    Quotes of the month

    • “While many firms do a brilliant job training their workforces, there are too many large companies who leave the training to others and take a free ride on the system.” The Chancellor on the case for an apprenticeship levy
    • “We expect cuts to unprotected depts between 2015/16 and 2019/20 of around £19bn to be announced in the Spending Review.” The Institute of Fiscal Studies on what lies ahead
    • “If assessing learning is hard, assessing teaching quality is harder.” Alison Wolf on the TEF
    • “I used to send very nasty letter to parents who didn’t turn up to parents’ evening and say you’re not going to get your son’s or daughter’s report until you come and see me.” Sir Michael Wilshaw on how to deal with ‘feckless’ parents
    • “At the time we were laughed at by almost everybody. Now most schools are taking up the teaching of character, well-being and resilience.” Sir Anthony Seldon on school happiness
    • “A teacher cannot function on Twitter like someone who works in a supermarket or an accountancy firm.” Head teacher Geoff Barton highlights the dangers of social media.

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Casual leadership.’ In Ofsted’s sights apparently.
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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 … 
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  • 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