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!

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  • Policy Eye - week ending January 30 2015

    Schools and HE have been making the news this week and it’s been a very mixed bag.

    The week summed up

    For schools there have been two issues. One has been about performance and how this should be measured and reported and the other has been about the school system itself and whether changes here, and in particular what’s known as ‘academisation,’ has helped raised standards.

    Issues of performance have arisen because this week has seen the annual publication of the school ‘league’ tables, different this year following the changes to early entry, iGCSEs and to vocational qualification recognition. The net result has seen a number of independent schools at the bottom of the league tables and a doubling of the number of state schools who have fallen below the required floor standard leading in turn to a series of questions about the merits or otherwise of the current system. What started 20 years ago as an exercise in creating the informed consumer has pretty much ended up creating a very confused consumer. As Jon Coles, formerly in charge of such things at the DfE argued in the Independent this week, the problem is that the government is only providing the data it prefers, not that which consumers seek. At present that seems to be coming from alternative sources but it seems likely that the continuing data revolution will lead to further changes in the ways school output is reported.

    The second issue facing schools this week has been about the reforms to the school system where two critical reports, one from the Education Committee and the other from the Public Accounts Committee, have raised challenging questions about the diversification of the system and oversight of it. Academies in particular have been under intense scrutiny this week but the wider issue is that the creation of different types of school have changed the operation of the school system in many ways, accountability, funding, governance and so on. It means any incoming government this year will have to think carefully about how the system should operate in the future.

    As for HE, two issues have been gathering steam here also this week. One is about alternative providers, part of the government’s original White Paper plans for opening out the HE sector and giving students greater choice but remaining controversial as concerns emerge about accountability, funding and quality. Here the government has moved to stem some of the concerns with a series of measures to strengthen requisite quality assurance arrangements.

    And the other issue is about tuition fees with Labour apparently poised to announce its policy in this area potentially encompassing a reduction in the maximum fee level to £6000. According to BBC expert Robert Peston, this could come at a great cost, potentially £2.5bn a year based on current loan rates. Not unnaturally the FE sector is keeping a watchful eye for any raid on the skills budget to help pay for this. By all accounts there’s no done deal yet but nerves are fraying. 

    Top headlines this week

    • ‘Majority of UK’s most influential had independent school education-survey’ (Monday
    • ‘No proof academies raise standards, say MPs.’ (Tuesday)
    • ‘Ofqual issues four-point improvement plan for functional skills.’ (Wednesday
    • ‘League Tables branded ‘a nonsense’ by private schools.’ (Thursday
    • ‘Government announces new rules for private colleges.’ (Friday

    People/organisations in the news this week

    • The HE Minister who announced a series of measures including annual re-designation and minimum requirements on registering students intended to beef up quality assurance arrangements for alternative HE providers
    • The Education Secretary who underlined the importance of a knowledge-based curriculum in a keynote speech outlining her vision for education which also included a call to rethink the position on practical assessments in GCSE science
    • MPs of all Parties, many of whom are lining up to support an early day motion on removing international students from net migration targets 
    • The think tank Policy Exchange who published a report showing how smarter use of technology and data could help local authorities save up to £10bn over the next 5 years
    • Best of Both worlds, the title of a new guide from the CBI and sponsored by Middlesex University, showing how HE and business can work together on skills and innovation
    • The Association of Graduate Employers who became the latest organisation to predict a buoyant labour market (vacancies up 11.9%) for graduates in 2015
    • UCAS who confirmed that applications to higher education were up, particularly from EU applicants, as it reported on the position following the important Jan 15 deadline
    • Local Growth money allocated to LEPs this week to support regional skills, housing and transport initiatives
    • The Education and Training Foundation whose recent report on FE leadership and management found declining levels of satisfaction
    • The Edge Foundation who published new research in the build-up to this year’s VQ Day showing that young people had little idea about which jobs had the best earnings potential
    • Apprenticeship and Traineeship figures, both up in the latest official figures for the first quarter of the 2014/15 year including 54,000 apprenticeships starts for 16-19 yr olds and 5,000 traineeship starts
    • Ofqual who published its long-awaited report into L2 Functional Skills proposing changes in four key areas including the quality of assessment materials and standard setting
    • Ed Sallis, former Chief Exec of Highlands College, who is heading up the review into non-GCSE English and maths which got under way this week
    • KS4/KS5 destination figures for the period up to March 2013 showing 91% of KS4 learners in education, employment or training a year after course completion (up 2%) but 71% (a 3% drop) for KS5 learners
    • 2016 GCSEs and AS/A’ levels where content and assessment arrangements for a further batch of 2016 starts were confirmed by the DfE and Ofqual respectively
    • School and College league tables for 2014 performance which were published this week to mixed reactions as the impact of some of the government’s changed rules became apparent
    • ASCL, NAHT,PiXL and United Learning who published alternative performance tables offering a more ‘rounded’ picture of school/learner performance
    • The Education Committee who published an important report on the government’s programme of Academies and Free Schools but could find no conclusive evidence so far that they had raised standards or closed the gap
    • Academies, in the news in other respects this week with the Public Accounts Committee asking questions of the head of the Durand Trust and the Gizzi Review reporting no irregularities in the Norfolk Academies inspection issue
    • School oversight, debated by MPs this week and the subject of a critical report from the Public Accounts Committee
    • Sir Anthony Seldon who used his Oxford lecture to express concerns about the failure of the major parties to come up with any convincing strategies to tackle social mobility 
    • Heavy workloads, cited by ¾ teachers in a recent survey as the top reason why they’re quitting teaching with ’wanting to make a difference for young people’ as the main reason why they started teaching in the first place
    • Music and arts activities for children, especially the music education hubs where funding will be stretched into a further year under an announcement from the DfE this week 
    • Victoria Beer, Chair of the Teaching Schools Council, who was announced as Chair of the panel who will judge the 2015 DfE Character Awards next month
    • Teachers, shop assistants and hospitality staff who were among the unhappiest workers in a recent survey looking at pay rates 
    • ‘Associate dean of eureka moments,’ a new post being advertised at Bristol University. 

    Tweet(s) of the week 

    • ‘Private schools happy to be at bottom of league tables; not sulking just don’t care.’ @Telegraph
    • Countries with better maths scores allocate resources more equitably. It’s not how much you spend but how you spend it.’ @OECD

    Acronym(s) of the week

    • SFR. (Statistical First Release,) the Dept’s official statistical publications showing data, such as the destination data this week, collected on schools, children and young people. 

    Quote(s) of the week 

    • “It’s still too early to know how much the academies programme has helped raise standards.” The Chair of the Education Committee summarises the findings in his Committee’s report on Academies and Free Schools
    • “I am concerned that a decision to remove practical assessment from science qualifications is in danger of holding back the next generation of scientists.” The Education secretary steps into the debate about the assessment of science practicals
    • “With this review we are working to establish what kind of improvements might be needed to make sure non-GCSE English and maths qualifications have labour market respect.” The Chair of the review of non-GCSE English and maths which got under way this week. 

    Number(s) of the week

    • 330. The number of state secondary schools who have fallen below the floor standard (of 40% of pupils gaining 5 A*- Cs including Eng/maths) in the latest ‘league’ tables and which has doubled since last year as new rules have applied
    • 2%. The increase in applications to higher education against the same stage last year    
    • 32.2. The average number of hours we work a week according to latest data, up slightly
    • 40%. The number of people who went to independent school in Debrett’s latest survey of the top influential people in the UK.  

    What to look out for next week

    • HE Minister Greg Clark speaks at the HEFCE Annual Conference (Wednesday)
    • Opposition-led debate on Apprenticeships (Wednesday). 
    read more
  • Pocket Watch – What now for Academies?

    Education currently lies seventh in the list of voter concerns, wedged between tax and pensions but one issue that may well push it up the list is that of school performance and whether reforms such as the development of Academies and Free Schools have helped or not.

    This week, the Education Committee, which has been conducting an extensive inquiry into the matter, offered its verdict and like others who have gone before, was unable to come down on one side or another: “current evidence does not allow us to draw conclusions on whether academies in themselves are a positive force for change.” It did, however, come up with some key messages. 

    Key messages from the Education Committee Report

    1. Isolating the factors that determine one school’s success from another is not straightforward and in the case of Academies which can be of two types (sponsored and converter) and working in different relationships, even more so. The DfE has argued that autonomy is an important ingredient and made it one of the two defining features behind the drive for Academies but as Andreas Schleicher of the OECD and other witnesses told the Committee, “there are many other aspects at least as important” to school success. The quality of teaching and leadership was cited as the most important but as the NAHT argued, parental support, capital and human resources, high expectations can be equally so. The Committee supported extending curriculum freedoms to all schools but believed that more evidence was needed about what really determines school success.

    2. How far the primary sector should be part of the Academy movement remains a moot point. The government has certainly pushed for this over the last couple of years and has put funding behind it but as the Committee heard, academisation can generate new admin burdens and many primary schools have their own successful local collaborative arrangements anyway. The Committee concluded that more research was needed to determine what worked best for primary schools and how far academisation would help.

    3. Free schools remain controversial and questions about cost, quality and need were all raised in the Inquiry. Over 250 Free Schools are now open and 100+ preparing to but these are early days, only a small number have been inspected and impact evidence is limited. So more transparency and clarity was needed about how such schools are determined, where they fit into the landscape and what impact they appear to be having.

    4. The question of management and oversight of the new schools system and whether for example a middle tier arrangement between central and local government is needed, remains pertinent. Basically there are concerns about where responsibilities lie and particularly in the case of large Academy chains, where accountabilities lie. The Committee called for the roles of Local Authorities and Regional School Commissioners to be clarified, for procedures for brokerage to be strengthened and for oversight of chains to be improved.
    5. In terms of the future, much may hinge on which Party is in power after the election as to whether the current trend towards diversification continues or whether schools are brought together into a more coherent system. The Committee was keen that whoever is in power should spell out its vision for the future of the school system more clearly, that greater transparency and accountability by not just the Dept but by agencies such as the EFA should follow and that the pace of reform should be reviewed.

    In all, the Committee came up with 43 recommendations and while acknowledging that many schools were now performing better, warned against any claims as to why until further research and evidence had been generated.    

    read more
  • Pocket Watch – Policy Lessons from this year’s BETT show

    Now in its 31st year, the annual BETT show which has been taking place this week offers a great opportunity to showcase the latest gadgets and advances in learning technology but also a useful platform for any policy announcements.

    It was at BETT 2012, for instance, that Michael Gove made his landmark announcement about ditching the old ’dull and demotivating’ IT curriculum in favour of the industry-led computing curriculum that we now have. This year a number of Ministers have been on hand to offer their thoughts; so what have we learned?

    Key policy announcements that have come out this week

    1. Last week’s Microsoft/Computing at school survey which revealed that ‘68% of primary and secondary teachers are concerned that their pupils have a better understanding of computing than they do,’ highlighted some of the challenges being faced by teachers implementing the new computing curriculum. In response, the government is pledging to support the scheme led by companies such as Microsoft and Google who have been working in partnership with universities like UCL and Oxford since last year offering training and support for teachers. £3.6m is being made available to support five new projects

    2. Barefoot will continue. Barefoot is a training programme, led by the British Computer Society and BT and aimed particularly at primary school teachers for whom it offers free in-school workshops. So far it has trained some 3000 teachers from over 800 schools but DfE funding was due to finish this March. This week, however, BT stepped in with funding to ensure the programme will be able to run for the rest of this year

    3. Wi-fi connectivity is still an issue for many schools. Apparently it’s now available in 78% of homes and businesses but according to figures quoted in the Secretary of State’s speech, admittedly for last year, 65% of primary schools and 54% of secondary schools don’t have access to good wi-fi connections. The government’s aim is to have super-fast broadband available across 95% of the UK by 2017 and is putting in £1.7bn to support this

    4. The Education Technology Action Group (ETAG) which was set up a year ago by the previous Skills Minister to advise on how digital technology might help teachers, produced its first report this week with 19 recommendations. Some of these were standard expectations about training, access and the use of data but the section on assessment was perhaps the most eye-catching and included a big nudge towards digital technology-enabled assessment for General Qualifications from 2015/16

    5. Still on the future. In her speech, the Education Secretary outlined three areas where she felt technology could help ‘transform the world of education.’ The first, that of helping generate data that could be used to assess the economic worth of certain qualifications, has attracted considerable comment and shows continuing political interest in learning outcomes and destinations as measures of performance. The other two, supporting assessment/ improving information flows for parents, and helping to reduce teacher workloads, are more mainstream although some remain to be convinced about the latter

    6. That FELTAG recommendation for 10% online learning. The Skills Minister endorsed the line from the SFA that this was not a prescriptive target but an attempt to encourage more blended and innovative approaches to learning and assessment in FE, so an aspiration

    7. And further afield. Not part of BETT but interesting nevertheless, the government this week launched its vision for a single EU digital market for many products and services and the Gates Foundation published its latest open letter on learning developments. 
    read more
  • Policy Eye - week ending January 23 2015

    It’s been annual BETT Conference week so there’s been a lot of interest in IT and all things digital. 

    The week summed up

    One survey published on the eve of the Conference even suggested that IT was the most important school subject for kids nowadays while Steven Schwartz, one time V.C. at Brunel University took to a blog to argue that new technology could be the saviour of HE ‘transforming it from a craft industry in which academics produce bespoke courses to a modern industry which combines the best course materials with online delivery.’

    New technology continues to ask questions of politicians and educators alike. This week for instance we have seen the full range of views with the global Gates Foundation highlighting the importance of tablets and smartphones in spreading learning opportunities in developing countries and closer to home, the general secretary of the head teachers association calling for some of the money being spent on new-fangled equipment to be given over to training up good teachers “and sticking them in front of old-fashioned blackboards.”  It was left to the Education Secretary in her speech to BETT to highlight three areas where she felt technology could play a major role in the future: in making performance data more sophisticated, in transforming assessment techniques and in reducing teacher workloads. We shall see.

    On the election front this week, Nick Clegg announced a pledge to eliminate child illiteracy by 2025, Tristram Hunt vowed to make reform of vocational education his ‘personal mission,’ the Labour Party continued to muse over university tuition fees, the government proposed new powers for Scotland and the Greens continued their upward surge. It was left to the OECD to put things in perspective with a report challenging governments to spend less time coming up with new education initiatives and more on checking out what works and why or more often, why not.

    Top headlines this week

    • ‘No child illiteracy by 2025, Nick Clegg pledges.’ (Monday)
    • ‘Most education reforms not given chance to work.’ (Tuesday)
    • ‘Pupil progress key for primary accountability.’ (Wednesday)
    • ‘Tech companies link up with schools to boost computer lessons.’ (Thursday)
    • ‘Changing the channel on the skills gap.’ (Friday

    People/organisations in the news this week

    • President Obama who made cheaper, and in some cases free, higher education a core part of his 2015 State of the Union address
    • The government who is committing £3.6m match funding to support five new projects that will see major companies and top universities work together to help train computer teachers
    • The Education Secretary who used her speech to the world Education Forum to ram home her new year message of support for teachers and how they transform lives
    • Nick Clegg who not only pledged to commit to ending child illiteracy by 2025 but also claimed to lead the only political Party dedicated to protecting education funding
    • Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt who argued in a speech to the BETT Conference that ‘tired old snobberies’ were holding back the development of technical education in Britain
    • The BIS Dept who published the latest Growth Dashboard on progress being made against current skills, productivity and other economic targets
    • The DfE who updated the statutory guidance for local authorities on managing schools causing concern
    • The OECD whose latest report on different education systems found that only one in ten of the 450 different reforms attempted across various countries had been properly evaluated
    • The Public Accounts Committee which continued to take the government to task over its failure to stress test initiatives for 16-19 year olds in its latest report on the matter
    • UK unemployment which fell overall to 1.9m in the latest figures covering the three months up to Nov 2014 but which saw a worrying but small increase of that for 16-24 yr olds
    • Aldershot, Brighton, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Reading, the top five areas with the most qualified residents according to the latest report from the Centre for Cities think tank
    • Nick Hillman, director of the HE Policy Institute, who responded to media stories that the Labour Party was considering charging a lower tuition fee for STEM and other in-demand degrees by posting six challenging questions that the proposal raises
    • X-Factor’s Dermot O’Leary, an ex-sixth form college student himself, who leant his voice to a campaign to have the contentious VAT charge removed from Sixth Form Colleges
    • Inspectors who are meeting together in the first ever international conference hosted by Ofsted and international inspectorates to consider quality issues in FE vocational learning
    • Head teachers for whom an updated set of professional standards was published built around four domains: qualities and knowledge; pupils and staff; systems and processes; system self-improvement
    • Sir Andrew Carter whose report into Initial Teacher Training (ITT) recommended the creation of an independent body to help determine a future ITT framework
    • Academy schools who were accused of stockpiling funds in bank accounts
    • Ofqual who outlined the three strands of its GCSE maths research programme due to report by the end of this April and focusing on the comparison of item demand and question difficulty
    • IT which was rated the most important school subject today by over two-thirds of people questioned in a recent survey (maths came 2nd, English 3rd and languages 4th)  
    • Alternative schooling, the subject of the latest BBC fly on the wall documentaries which started on BBC 3 this week
    • Primary school accountability, the subject of a well-publicised report by the think tank CentreForum backed by Pearson which argues for pupil progress to be the key measure
    • KS2 tests where the DfE published the statutory guidance for the operation of this year’s tests
    • ‘Motivated,’ the most over-used word currently appearing on the LinkedIn site as people brush up their CV’s for a new job at the start of a new year. (The next three were ‘creative,’ ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘passionate’).

    Tweet(s) of the week

    • 'The new frontline of parenting is the argument over children’s computer time.’ @seanjcoughlan
    • ‘HE is the strongest, sturdiest ladder to increased social mobility.’ @universitiesuk
    • ‘Schools should stop wasting money buying ipads for kids and spend the money on teachers.’ @ed_ontap

    Acronym(s) of the week

    • ONS. The Office for National Statistics who among other things publish the Blue Book which records and reports on UK economic activity and is used in reports such as the government’s Growth Dashboard cited above
    • ETAG. Education Technology Action Group who published their first major report this week with 19 recommendations intended to enhance learning and assessment development.   

    Quote(s) of the week

    • “My job is to help where I can and get out of the way when I should.” The Education Secretary describes how she sees her job
    • “Let’s call homework what it really is. It’s a parent test. I hope the biggest dog in the world comes out and eats it.” Times Columnist Caitlin Moran has little time for homework
    • “There is a simple, if radical, solution to apprenticeship funding. Employers could be told that any eligible apprentice can receive up to a maximum off-the-job training free at a college or approved training provider. After that it’s up to them.” Lynne Sedgemore, Executive Director of the 157 Group, proposes a solution to the apprenticeship funding conundrum.  

    Number(s) of the week

    • 8.8 seconds. The average time an employer spends scanning an applicant’s CV
    • 58m. The number of primary-age children around the world still not in education according to the latest report from UNESCO
    • £335,000. How much the average Sixth Form College pays in VAT a year
    • 84%. The number of UK bosses worried about skill levels according to the latest PWC CEO survey (up a staggering 20% on last year). 

    What to look out for next week

    • Public Accounts Committee witness session on DfE and EFA accounts (Monday)
    • All Party Parliamentary Group session on Sixth Form Colleges (Monday)
    • Publication of KSS4/5 destination data (Tuesday)
    • Centre for Market Reform Of Education lecture by Julian Le Grand on school choice (Tues)
    • Education Committee witness session with Ofsted Chief Inspector (Wednesday).  
    read more
  • Policy Eye - week ending January 16 2015

    The start of the week saw David Cameron set out six themes likely to feature in the Conservative Party Election Manifesto; they included education but surprisingly for some, not the NHS which has shot to the top of voters’ concerns this week.

    The week summed up

    The themes contained a lot of references to the economy with mentions of jobs, taxes and tackling the deficit and the argument is that by only getting the economy right will we be able to provide for a strong NHS. It was a message the Chancellor was keen to get across in his Royal Economic Society lecture this week which both set a new positive tone (for Britain to become the most prosperous of any major economy by the 2030s) but also a further challenge to raise education and skill standards.

    The Chancellor, indeed the government as a whole, have been making the case for some time about the importance of the education system in nurturing the skills and talent needed to help the economy recover and there have been some interesting developments in this area this week with reports from the Engineering Council UK, McDonalds and the Prince’s Trust. All stressed the importance of equipping young people with the right, for which read market-driven, skills.

    Elsewhere a positive report on the top end of the graduate market was published, reforms to apprenticeship funding were put on hold for further review and two important deadlines reached. The first, the closing date for applications for school places for autumn 2015, provoked a storm of alarming headlines about the squeeze on school places in parts of the country while the second, the date for submission of UCAS forms for university entry this autumn came with a surge of advice and guidance from UCAS and others guarding applicants against filling in forms with this sort of error highlighted in The Daily Telegraph:“Thanks for considering my application and I hope I will here (sic) from you soon.” 

    Top headlines this week

    • ‘Ofsted school inspections: concerns about reliability.’ (Monday)
    • ‘Almost one in five primary schools has too many pupils, Labour survey finds.’  (Tuesday)
    • ‘Campaign puts £88bn value on soft skills.’ (Wednesday)
    • ‘Global firms urged to invest in education.’ (Thursday)
    • ‘A level reform; schools plan to ignore changes by offering AS levels.’ (Friday

    People/organisations in the news this week

    • The Chancellor who proposed a new fiscal rule in his Royal Economic Society Lecture that when conditions were right, future governments should be forced to run a budget surplus
    • Global companies who have been urged to follow the lead of Santander, GlaxoSmithKline and HSBC and commit a fifth of their CSR budgets to education by 2020
    • MPs who debated grammar school funding this week
    • The DfE who published the latest list of Free Schools either open (256 listed) or about to (111 listed)
    • The BIS Dept who published a detailed evidence review of how high-performing countries go about improving their basic skills
    • The Skills Minister who defended the need to go back to the drawing board on apprenticeship funding in a witness session at the Education Committee
    • The Institute for Fiscal Studies who launched their election 2015 website dedicated to assessing the veracity of spending and other economic claims including those on education
    • The HE sector who expressed concerns about its proposed role in countering extremism as the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill reached its Second Reading
    • The HE Statistics Agency whose latest figures point to an increase in the number of students achieving top grades but a drop in the number of students studying part-time especially for foundation degrees
    • HEFCE who published some good practice case studies where institutions have spelt out clearly to students about how fee and other money is being spent
    • 10 University Vice-Chancellors who shared their wish lists for 2015 with calls for more funding, research, foreign students and science all featuring prominently
    • The Quality Assessment Review Group, set up to look at future quality assessment arrangements in HE, who called for views on initial principles
    • High flying graduates, especially in finance, the public services, accountancy, retail and the armed services, whose job prospects this year look promising although it helps to have undertaken work experience in the industry first
    • Communication and interpersonal skills, teamwork, time and self-management skills, decision-making and initiative-taking, taking responsibility: the five ‘soft skill areas’ identified by McDonalds in the latest campaign launched to promote such skills
    • Engineering UK whose latest report forecast 257,000 vacancies in the sector by 2022
    • The NUS who joined the clamour for a free bus pass for college students (the Lib-Dems are likely to include discounted bus passes in their election manifesto)
    • The Prince’s Trust whose latest Youth Index survey found young people slightly less happy than last year and worried about money, jobs and health
    • Youth Employment UK who became the latest organisation to launch a critical survey of careers provision in this country
    • Ofsted who revealed that to test out the reliability of new short inspections, some schools might experience two separate inspections on the same day
    • UCAS chief executive Mary Curnock Cook who reported on a recent survey that suggested many schools will continue to offer the AS level
    • 50 13 year olds who will be taught English, maths and science for half a term in a BBC2 documentary series designed to test out the virtues of the Shanghai education system
    • Parents who had to submit applications for 2015 primary school places this week as concerns were voiced about demand for places in some areas
    • 'What are the most enjoyable and the least enjoyable aspects of the role?’ One of ten recommended questions to ask in a job interview according to a Guardian blog
    • And in the week before BETT, apparently researchers have found that by analysing ‘likes,’ Facebook can know you better than your own family does.

    Tweet(s) of the week

    • ‘Computing teachers fear students know more than they do, poll shows.’ @ed_ontap
    • ‘Majority of voters think international students should be allowed to remain in the UK after graduation and work.’ @UniversitiesUK
    • ‘Children need to learn how to beat boredom. Nicky Morgan.’ @ed_ontap 

    Acronym(s) of the week

    • CAS. Computing at School
    • CSR. Corporate Social Responsibility.  

    Quote(s) of the week

    • “There is a moment of magic when you see a young person make something totally unique happen on a screen…but to get to that moment we need passionate people who have the right skills and knowledge to help give young people the building blocks they need.” The CEO of Microsoft UK on the importance of trained computer teachers
    • "It is also estimated that almost a quarter of responses were part of several campaigns associated with the consultation.”  The BIS Dept reflects on responses to its apprenticeship funding consultation
    • “The phasing out of grammar schools in most of the country was one of the greatest policy disasters of the post-war era.” Sir Edward Leigh MP opens the MPs’ debate on the funding of grammar schools.  

    Number(s) of the week

    • 6. The number of themes likely to form the core of the Conservative’s general election manifesto and covering: dealing with the deficit; creating jobs; lowering taxes; improving education; tackling housing shortages; and helping the retired
    • 205 and 51%. The number of graduates who achieved a 1st and 2.1 degree respectively in 2014 according to the latest figures
    • 900,000. The number of extra school places reported to be needed over the next decade
    • 26 minutes, 28 seconds. What the average lunch hour has been reduced to apparently. 

    What to look out for next week

    • Oral Questions to the Education Secretary (Monday)
    • Publication of DfE Annual Report and Accounts for 2013/14. (Tuesday)
    • Launch of CentreForum/Pearson Report on Primary School Accountability (Wednesday)
    • BETT Conference (Wednesday-Saturday). 
    read more