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 Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in March 2015

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

    Key headlines from the month

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

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

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

    Speeches of the month

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

    Quotes of the month

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

    Word or phrase of the month

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

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

    Key headlines from the month

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

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

    Speeches of the month

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

    Quotes of the month

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

    Word or phrase of the month

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

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

    Key headlines from the month

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

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

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

    Speeches of the month

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

    Quotes of the month

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

    Word or phrase of the month

    ‘To greenhouse.’ To nurture an idea. 

    read more
  • 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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