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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  • Pocket Watch – Managing curriculum reform

    Sir David Bell’s speech to the Association for Science Education Conference last week has once again raised the issue of how curriculum reform should be managed in this country.

    It comes as all three Party Education Spokespeople have acknowledged the need for a period of calm once the current cycle of reform is complete. Sir David did veer close to Tomlinson territory when he went on to suggest that A levels should be part of a Bacc structure in the long-run but his general point that education reform, let alone the interests of learners, is better served by taking the politics out of the process, has considerable support. For many, the best way forward would be to leave the strategy, funding and accountability to the politicians and the rest to independent experts. This is how the argument’s shaping up. 

    The Context

    As a member of a group of experts who published a Report on the matter almost exactly a year ago, Sir David clearly has an interest in this area. That Report, ‘Making Education Work,’ sponsored by Pearson, brought together a group of leading education professionals under the stewardship of Sir Roy Anderson. One of its key recommendations was for ‘the creation of an independent body representing all key stakeholders with the aim of establishing long-term political consensus on the school curriculum but with ultimate responsibility for delivering and assessing the curriculum continuing to be vested in government.’ The thrust behind such a proposal was to ensure that long-term planning and stakeholder consensus were built in so that important curriculum reform could be conducted in “a more ordered and transparent way.” 

    Role models

    A number of role models for this sort of approach have been put forward. Some have suggested that the Office for Budget Responsibility which provides independent advice to government on public finances offers a model. Others have pointed to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as well as to examples of Curriculum Development Panels in other jurisdictions as possible models but the one that seems to have attracted most interest and indeed was cited by Sir David, is the National Infrastructure Commission as proposed by Labour’s Armitt Review 18 months ago. Under this, UK infrastructure needs would be subject to long-term (25-30 years) planning and cross-party political consensus, and major assessment reviews carried out every ten years with Dept delivery plans required within 12 months of priorities being identified. “Rather than taking power away from politicians,” Sir John Armitt said, “I believe that an independent National Infrastructure Commission would act as an important enabler and provide a robust framework within which public and political debate on these important issues could take place.” It’s a model many think could work in education. 

    What are the politicians saying about all this?

    All major political Parties have expressed interest in this area but it is the Lib-Dems who have perhaps come nearest with David Laws’ call for the creation of an independent Education Standards Authority (ESA) in a speech last year. As he saw it, the ESA would be independent of government and would “be charged with assessing changes in standards and performance over time and overseeing the detailed development of curricula.” The idea is on the table. 

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  • Policy Eye - week ending January 9 2015

    The 2015 general election campaign kicked off in earnest this week and already there are signs of consumer fatigue. 

    The week summed up

    “The election campaign is only one week old and I’m bored already” tweeted one commentator; “could Dave Smashey and Ed Nicey please play some new tunes?” blogged the RSA’s Matthew Taylor, himself a former adviser at Number 10. Part of the problem is that the build-up seems to have been going for a long time and part is that so much of the early skirmishing has been predictable: the Conservatives challenging Labour on the economy and Labour challenging the Conservatives on the NHS, ‘wealth v health’ as The Sun neatly summarised it. Matthew Taylor’s conclusion was that: “both major Parties are stuck with messages which are failing to reach beyond their core constituencies” which suggests intriguingly that this will be an election in which the minority Parties (UKIP, SNP, Greens and so on) rather than the majority ones will be the ones to keep an eye out for. We’ll be following with interest.

    Away from the election, there have been a limited number of education developments this week.

    The Education Secretary appeared before the Education Committee to answer questions on careers guidance but gave very little away, alternative HE providers got together to announce a new mission group, the Education Endowment Foundation launched a new interactive tool to help groups of similar schools work together to close the attainment gap and the Schools Minister worried that school pupils today would fail to recognise the importance of some of the great historical anniversaries which fall this year such as the signing of Magna Carta. So far, so expected. One theme, however, beginning to gain traction and which may be worth noting as election noises get louder, is just what role politicians should play in education reform in the future. As Sir David Bell’s s keynote speech today seems to be suggesting: if for no other reason than economic necessity, politicians should row back from constant reform and let the professionals get on with it. A positive message on which to start election year. 

    Top headlines this week

    • ‘Universities refuse to reveal how they spend students’ £9,000 fees.’ (Monday)
    • ‘Ofsted inspectors must stay out of politics, say Labour.’ (Tuesday)
    • ‘School collaboration could help close the attainment gap.’ (Wednesday)
    • ‘Private providers create ‘Russell Group’ of the alternative sector.” (Thursday)
    • ‘The next twelve months will be critical for the future of colleges.’ (Friday)

    People/organisations in the news this week

    • YouGov whose latest figures suggest that voters are split over which of the two main Parties is best suited to handling education
    • The Prime Minister and Chancellor who began a planned regional campaign by heading up to the North West to launch a six-point long-term economic plan which would see among other things a boost to science, business, innovation and education in that region
    • Education Secretary Nicky Morgan who confirmed in a rather mundane Committee session on careers guidance that the new independent careers company, announced just before Christmas, would be up and running in March                    
    • Ed Miliband who launched Labour’s 2015 election campaign with a keynote speech setting out the Party’s five key messages including one on better education and opportunities for young people
    • Shadow Education Minister, Tristram Hunt, who called for Ofsted to focus on inspecting school performance and not to become engaged in looking at things outside its remit
    • The Lib-Dems who announced their campaign team for the general election and celebrated Nick Clegg’s 48th birthday with a list of 48 ‘good things Nick has done’
    • 95 leading economists, who predicted in the annual FT survey of economic prospects for the year ahead that UK borrowing and taxes would rise in 2015
    • The DfE which invited applications for the new DfE Character Awards
    • Sir James Dyson who labelled Theresa May’s proposed plans to send home non EU international students once they had graduated as ‘mean-spirited’ days before the plans were dropped
    • University UK whose expert panel reviewing student funding and due to report before the election, published an interim paper outlining emerging lines so far
    • The OECD’s Andreas Schleicher who blogged about how different countries were tackling the issue of higher ed financing and concluded by praising the approach adopted in England
    • The IOE and AELP who launched phase two of the Teach Too Programme designed to encourage industry experts to offer their expertise in vocational teaching and learning
    • John Cridland, the Director-General of the CBI who questioned the long-term future of the GCSE in his New Year message
    • Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor of Reading University and former permanent secretary at the DfE, who joined the calls for an independent curriculum body to help take some of the politicking out of education reform
    • Russell Hobby who was elected as General Secretary of the NAHT for a second term
    • The Education Endowment Foundation who launched a new interactive tool to help ‘families’ of schools come together to help close attainment gaps
    • The Wellcome Trust, one of a number of leading bodies, who signed a letter calling on Ofqual to review proposals to change the assessment of GCSE science practicals (Ofqual’s consultation on the matter closes on 4 Feb 2015)
    • School wellbeing, the subject of a report out from Nuffield Health and 2020health which will see the first head of well-being appointed to a (yet to be selected) secondary school later this year
    • Academies Week, the newspaper which reports on what’s going on in schools, which changed its name to Schools Week
    • Birmingham, recognised in the latest survey as the most entrepreneurial city outside London
    • ‘Cyber-attacks, ubiquitous drones, spooky smartphones and the continuing rise of wearable technology,’ all leading predictions for 2015 in a survey of leading techies
    • Magna Carta, along with the Battles of Agincourt and Waterloo, one of a number of significant historical anniversaries which fall this year but which the Schools Minister fears a lack of general knowledge will mean young people will fail to recognise the importance of

    Tweet(s) of the week

    • 'Death of the ebook? Kindle sales have disappeared says Waterstones.” @Teachit
    • "Dory MP Binley. We need to improve the productivity of universities. They’ve had too many high tables, had it easy too long.” @JMorganTHE

    Acronym(s) of the week

    • NNCOs. National Networks for Collaborative Outreach, a bit like AimHigher and intended to help schools, colleges and others who are supporting those of all ages, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, considering applying to HE, announced this week
    • IUG. The Independent Universities Group, a group of non-profit and for-profit HE providers who have got together to represent their interests more accurately.

    Quote(s) of the week

    • “So we will have a revolution in vocational education so that as many young people leave school to do apprenticeships as currently go to university.” Ed Miliband re-affirms Labour backing for apprenticeships
    • “As the election looms I am keener than anyone for education policy to be debated. But I am also desperate for a conversation that leaves behind the incendiary rhetoric of ‘the Blob’ and ‘class war.’ Tristram Hunt looks for a new kind of debate
    • “Among all available approaches, the UK offers still the most scalable and sustainable approach to university finance.” Andreas Schleicher reviews international tuition fee regimes.

    Number(s) of the week

    • 4m. The number of ‘conversations’ with voters Labour is intending to have in the next four months as it takes its election campaign out to the country
    • 86. The number of pages in the Treasury dossier released by the Government challenging the costing of many of the Opposition’s plans including those on expanding apprenticeships, UTCs and the number of qualified teachers in schools and colleges
    • Over £1m. The amount of initial funding distributed under the Early Years Pupil Premium.

    What to look out for next week

    • Education Committee witness session with Nick Boles on 16-19 apprenticeships and traineeships (Wednesday)
    • Important UCAS application deadline date (Thursday)
    • And beyond: Annual Bett Conference (21st – 24th Jan,) publication of 2014 ‘league tables and further announcement on apprenticeships (both due before the end of the month).  
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  • Pocket Watch – Key education themes for 2015

    The start of a new year has brought the traditional flurry of predictions for what lies ahead in the coming months.

    Financial pundits have been lining up to predict more borrowing and higher taxes at least for the second half of the year, techies are predicting a growth in ‘anticipatory computing’ (smartphones that anticipate what information you need,) while political pundits are predicting a very close run thing when it comes to the election but what of education, what’s in store here for 2015?

    Here are some key themes that we’re likely to hear a lot about in 2015.

    1. An education ‘lite’ general election. That’s not to say there won’t be numerous announcements, we’ve already had three this week with David Cameron pledging more, as yet undefined, education legislation, Ed Miliband promising to grow the apprenticeship route and Nick Clegg reasserting Lib-Dem plans to protect education budgets but there’s little sense of any new vision or direction driving education as there was in say 1997 or 2010. That may be no bad thing given the intensity of reform programmes over the last few years and indeed there’s a strong argument, as a recent YouGov poll indicated, for giving managers in schools or colleges, time and space to respond to change. As it is, there are still plenty of current issues around to arouse passions with school brands, workloads, youth training and tuition fees all being obvious examples but if the intent behind last summer’s Ministerial changes was to allow for a softer approach to these and other education issues as the election approached, then it seems to have had the desired effect with education now seemingly in calmer waters.

    2. Debate will grow about how best to manage change in the future. As government divests itself of a range of responsibilities and a shift towards local management takes hold, an interesting debate is developing about how best to manage big reform programmes in the future. The model of prescribing from the centre is, as Michael Gove declared when launching the national curriculum review a few years ago, unlikely to be replicated in the same way in the future particularly as the education system becomes more fragmented. All three major Party Education Spokespeople have recognised this as an issue and are likely to call for changes depending on who’s in power after the general election. Interestingly both Nicky Morgan and David Laws made speeches on the matter on the same day at the end of November with the latter making a strong pitch for an Independent Standards Authority “charged with assessing changes in standards and performance over time and overseeing the detailed development of curricula.” The concept of an independent, professionally-based Commission, able to advise the Secretary of State on the curriculum is not new, operates in other countries and may well come under consideration here.

    3. Funding issues will never be very far away. The economy was always going to feature prominently this year and so it’s proving with furious debate raging currently about the costing of various spending plans. While the Parties bandy about figures on anything from the costs of ensuring all teachers in schools and colleges are fully qualified to the funding needed for an increase in apprenticeship numbers, the more immediate issue is the potential impact of cuts for 2015 and beyond, particularly since the harsh dose of reality dished out by the Chancellor in his Autumn statement. At the moment only two things are clear. First that all major Parties are committed to reducing the deficit over the lifetime of the next Parliament albeit some more painfully than others and second that we shan’t know the precise nature of any cuts until at least the second half of this year when a new Spending Review is completed. For the moment, ring fencing, further efficiencies and the future of the pupil premium remain issues for schools; the funding of apprenticeships, the spread of fee loans and the impact of Dept cuts remain issues for FE while for HE, student funding will continue to be debated but its long-term future looks likely to be dependent on who’s holding the reins after the election as to whether there’s a further review or not.

    4. Social mobility and opportunity will continue to set the context for much of education. According to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission who issued their second annual ‘state of play’ report last October, “Britain is on the brink of becoming a permanently divided nation.” The current government has justified many of its education and welfare reforms on the basis they would help improve social mobility but as the Commission’s conclusion indicates and reports from Ofsted to the Prince’s Trust have underlined, this is proving challenging. Just what role education should play in this, whether for instance there should be more grammar schools, or more young people should be equipped with employability skills or more disadvantaged young people encouraged to enter HE, remains open to question. Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt raised the stakes in a keynote speech last November when he committed a future Labour government to ending state subsidies for private schools if they did not support new partnerships with state schools but other proposals can be seen in the Commission’s own 12 key recommendations. 

    5. Accountability and inspections systems will continue to evolve in response to access to greater data and demands for greater transparency. A lot of work has been done in this area by the current government and at present there seems to be broad political consensus about some of the accountability measures proposed. There’s still some modelling and harvesting of data to be done but the aim is to have new floor and progress measures in place for schools in limited form this year and fully from 2016 and new adult learning success measures in place the year after. Where we are likely to see debate this year is around the use of baseline assessments at the start of Reception, the nature of destination data for school leavers and the relationship to wage returns for college leavers. As for school/college inspections Ofsted is currently mulling over responses to its recent “radical” plans for streamlining inspection arrangements. How far this will satisfy all Parties remains to be seen. Tristram Hunt has already indicated that further reform would follow if Labour gets in while as Sir Tim Brighouse indicated in an interview late last year, there’s still a strong body of support for a more self-determining system. Either way, more change seems likely although the bigger story may well be taking place in HE where the case for putting quality assessment services out to tender is under review. 

    6. Qualification reform will soldier on. The first of the revised GCSE, AS and A levels will be taught for the first time this September and represent accordingly a further stage in the sweeping programme of curriculum reform which began some three years ago, has taken in considerable change on the way but which has a further two years of implementation to go. It’s been a demanding process; issues like GCSE grading and practical assessments in science continue to be debated but the reform tanker is well under way now and would be difficult to turn round at this late stage. Where we might see developments this year is in three areas. First in providing a better balance to the curriculum with a push to develop pupil character alongside traditional subjects. All Parties are committed to this and developments are following at a steady pace. Second, in the long-running saga of the standalone AS level where the election will determine whether Labour will get its chance to reverse government policy even though as Ofqual has warned it may take time. And third, the GCSE, 30 years old now but where, as the CBI’s John Cridland suggested in his New Year message, the issue of whether we still need an exam at age 16 remains live and may well re-emerge if Labour wins and starts to implement its proposed 14-19 Bacc model. 

    7. There’ll be more system change. This always tends to happen after a general election and a number of changes that could transcend Party lines for whoever is in power after May, are already lined up. These include: a College of Teaching, teacher professional development, school commissioners, careers portfolios, youth training and apprenticeships, specialist colleges, local commissioning of skills training, city region partnerships, online learning, high-level voc provision, fee loans, alternative providers, quality assurance systems.    
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  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in December 2014

    Some important announcements this month on careers, a College of Teaching, qualification development and performance, and HE but it’s the Autumn Statement at the start of the month that provides the strongest messages for next year and beyond 

    Key headlines from the month

    • KS2 tests. The DfE confirm summer test results 
    • SEND. The government puts more money in to support the new special needs system
    • GCSE Science. Ofquals consults on assessments of practicals
    • GCSEs in Hist, Geog, Ancient, Modern Languages. Ofqual consults on regulations
    • Maths. Government confirms introduction of maths/further maths A/AS deferred to Sept 2017
    • Core maths. Six new quals announced
    • Character in schools. Significant announcements from all sides
    • PISA tests. 2018 tests to include digital competences
    • Exam reforms. Education Secretary tells Education Committee things are on course
    • Careers. Education Secretary announces a new independent advisory company
    • Grammar Schools. Conservative Group launches campaign for more
    • College of Teaching. The government comes out in support and launches consultation
    • Ofsted (1.) Consultation closes on proposed new common inspection framework
    • Ofsted (2.) Latest Annual Report points to ‘stalling secondaries’
    • 16-19 English and maths. The EFA update funding conditions following latest developments
    • VQs. Approved quals for Sept 2015 teaching published
    • Digital Skills. The PM announces a new College to train future digital innovators
    • QCF. Ofqual announces the timetable for dismantling
    • Apprenticeships. Target of 2m starts under this government reached
    • FE outcome measures. Further consultation due in 2015
    • National Colleges. Vince Cable announces 4 more
    • LEPs. Government publishes accountability framework
    • HE QA arrangements. Steering Group confirms discussion document due in New Year
    • Postgrads. HEFCE sets out interim funding arrangements
    • Uni research. Results of latest review exercise released

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

    Speeches of the month

    • George Osborne’s 3 December Autumn Statement includes money for careers, postgrads and science research but warns of more cuts to come for at least the next 3 years 
    • Tristam Hunt’s 8 December Demos speech sets out Labour Party plans for helping schools and families develop character in young people
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 10 December Annual Report speech reflects on some of the reasons why primary schools are improving but secondary schools, in some areas, are struggling

    Quotes of the month

    • “The measures I announce today are not a net giveaway but actually tighten the public finances a little.” The Chancellor tightens the belt in the Autumn Statement
    • “One thing is sure-if we move in anything like this direction, whilst continuing to protect health and pensions, the role and shape of the state will have changed beyond recognition.” The IFS considers potential long-term effects of cuts on public services
    • “I’m delighted to see the QCF go.” Alison Wolf on the funeral notice for the adult qual framework
    • “Character, resilience and the ability to bounce back: it’s what makes us British.”  The Shadow Education Secretary on building character and spirit in schools
    • “Things would be healthier if we would all stop thinking about Ofsted quite so often.” The Gen Sec of the NAHT on keeping our thoughts to ourselves
    • “We don’t need more tinkering with the existing system: we need a new system.” The former High Master of St Paul’s School on what the education system really needs

    Word or phrase of the month

    • Al desco.’ Having to take lunch at your desk.
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  • Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in November 2014

    Very much skills month with 3 set piece Conferences, 4 major speeches and 9 reports (see below)

    Key headlines from the month

    • Early years. Practitioners call for a rethink on baseline assessment
    • Maths hubs. The Chinese ‘specialists’ start work in a number of primaries
    • RS. Consultation on new GCSE, AS, A levels launched
    • PISA tests. UK schools invited to bid to use the tests next year
    • AS. Cambridge University advises schools to use them
    • Teachers’ Workload. Evidence gathering phase closes
    • TeachFirst. Goes for push into coastal towns, primaries and STEM teachers next
    • College of Teaching. Education Secretary due to announce interest soon
    • Pupil premium. Government confirms additional funding
    • British values. The Dept issues guidelines to help schools deliver
    • Functional Skills. Minister asks ETF to consider GCSE alternatives
    • NEETs. Numbers down in latest quarterly figures
    • Traineeships. Government flexes up for 2015
    • Apprenticeships. The SFA publishes the latest guidance for trailblazers
    • Apprenticeships/Traineeships. Education Committee continues taking evidence
    • FE. The AoC issues a 10-point Manifesto for the 2015 election
    • FE inspections. Ofsted publishes latest myth buster
    • Skills. Government confirms new devolved arrangement with Greater Manchester
    • Quangos. Down by a third in latest progress report

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

    • Engineering Skills Progress Report. BIS reports on progress made in developing partnerships and a range of school activity one year on from the landmark Perkins Review
    • Socio-economic differences in university outcomes in the UK. The Institute of Fiscal Studies crunches the data on students from poorer backgrounds and finds concerns all round
    • Greater Manchester Agreement. The government signs up to plans to devolve responsibilities in areas like business growth and skills to the Combined Authority from 2017
    • EFA Business Plan 2014-2015. The Education Funding Agency confirms priorities and headline figures in the latest version of its Business Plan
    • Student Loans: Government Response. The government stands firm in its response to the earlier Select Committee Inquiry and refuses to call for a further review of the fee loans system
    • Our impact. TeachFirst highlights the extent of its reach and impact over the last decade particularly in disadvantaged areas and gears up for more to come
    • A Better Off Britain. The CBI proposes a range of measures to help close the attainment gap in schools and raise skill levels in its latest blueprint for economic recovery
    • Licensed to Create. The RSA publishes a collection of essays from leading ‘experts’ on how best to improve teacher quality and innovation
    • SFCA Manifesto 2015. The Sixth Form Colleges’ Association calls for a re-coupling of the AS and a competitive process for establishing new sixth forms in its 2015 Manifesto brochure
    • Understanding the success of London’s Schools. Bristol University’s Research Centre offers the latest research and finds the higher aspiration of ethnic groups a key factor
    • Implementing Rigour and Responsiveness. The FE Minister updates the sector on the latest developments in his latest briefing for Governors and Principals
    • Skills beyond school. The OECD looks at post-16 vocational systems across 20 countries and stresses the importance of employer engagement, work experience and responsive quals
    • FE Commissioner’s Annual Report. The FE Commissioner issues his first annual report and lists some of the lessons learnt from interventions undertaken in eleven colleges over the year
    • Still in tune? The Skills Commission publishes the latest in a series of reports suggesting that the skills system is not fully in tune with the changing needs of the labour market
    • A roadmap for free education. The National Union of Students calls for a scrapping of fee loans in favour of greater taxation from employers and the wealthiest in society
    • Too good to fail. The HE Commission finds the current fee loan system unsustainable and lists six other funding models as possible alternatives
    • Traineeships Funding Consultation: Government Response. The government confirms it will increase the flexibility of traineeships as it responds to earlier consultation
    • Why textbooks count. Tim Oates explains why the best ones at least do and highlights the features of those used in best-performing jurisdictions
    • Growth Through People. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills adds its voice to a more employer driven system as it publishes a further report on the state of the UK skills system

    Speeches of the month

    • Nicky Morgan’s 10 November Your Life speech sets the context for this new campaign designed to raise awareness among school leavers about the importance of STEM subjects
    • Ed Miliband’s 10 November CBI Conference speech tells business leaders how a future Labour government would work with employers to create a fairer society with skills for all
    • Nick Gibb’s 12 November Reform speech espouses the virtues of school autonomy and claims that it’s helping to drive improved school performance
    • Nick Boles’ 18 November AoC speech highlights latest developments around English and maths as well as some new flexibilities for traineeship programmes
    • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 18 November CBI speech argues that the moment is ripe for reform of vocational education and sets out four priorities for achieving this
    • Tristram Hunt’s 19 November AoC speech ticks a number of boxes about voc quals and confirms that Labour is working on a White Paper on future reforms to the FE/voc system
    • Nick Gibb’s 20 November ‘publishers’ speech stresses the importance of high-quality school textbooks in learning and calls on publishers to stay ahead of the game
    • Glenys Stacey’s 20 November Westminster Education Forum speech puts the current A level reforms in context and explains how the accreditation process is going
    • Tristram Hunt’s 25 November Walthamstow speech calls for a new settlement between state and private schools with both sides working to new partnership arrangements
    • David Laws’ 27 November CentreForum speech calls for stronger local accountability and inspection arrangements for Academy chains
    • Nicky Morgan’s 27 November Birmingham speech sets out a new more collaborative vision of education

    Quotes of the month

    • “Education is a partnership. It isn’t a battle or a war.” The Education Secretary
    • “It’s still by no means completely sorted out but it’s a lot better than the situation we inherited.“ Francis Maude on the government’s quango reforms
    • “If we win the election, our focus will be on a revolution in vocational education and apprenticeships.” Ed Miliband addresses employers at the CBI Conference
    • “What I’ve found challenging is that you can be busy without achieving much.” The Shadow Education Minister on life in Westminster
    • “I have to admit it made me gulp when I first heard him say it.” The Skills Minister on how he felt when he first heard the Prime Minister’s target of 3m more apprentices
    • “Often it is the ad hoc verbal feedback made in a lesson that that can have the most impact.” The general secretary of the NAHT on the pressure to keep records on everything

    Word or phrase of the month

    • ‘Scope creep.’ A project that starts looking at one thing but ends up with 100s of others.
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