Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in August 2012

A month as ever dominated by exam results with, at the time of writing, a number of issues still under scrutiny as Ofqual takes in responses to its interim report on GCSE English.

Main talking points

Elsewhere, the month saw a new body proposed for FE, the latest in a series of Reviews completed for the Apprenticeship system, further evaluation of the impact of fees on undergraduate recruitment, continuing uncertainty about the nature of economic recovery and growing indications that the government will announce a series of economic recovery measures, let alone measures to the exam and qualification system, throughout the autumn. It could be a busy few months.

Key headlines from the month

  • GCSE. 69.8% gain A*-C, slight drop amidst concerns about grading issues
  • A levels. 98% gain A*-E, slightly up but slight decrease in numbers gaining top grades
  • Free Schools. 50+ new ones open but Bradford told to postpone
  • School sport. Worries emerge about playing fields and lack of hours spent
  • School guidance. Government claim to have cut official edicts down to 6,978 pages
  • Apprenticeships. AELP invite bids for new £450,000 Support Fund for 16-20 yr olds
  • Apprenticeship Grant for Employers. NAS flex up the rules
  • Catalyst Fund. New ‘strategic’ fund for HE invites bids
  • HE. Independent Commission suggest 1 in 20 not applied this year
  • HE. Pearson prepares to launch its new degree College
  • International Graduates. BIS issues call for evidence to identify impact
  • NEETs. 968,000 under latest (June) stats, slight increase for 16-18 yr olds
  • Jobless. London to pilot new unpaid work scheme for 18-24 yr olds
  • Work schemes. High Court rules out challenges
  • Unemployment. Latest quarterly total down to 2.56m, 1.01m for 16-24 year olds
  • Economy. Bank of England confirms flat outlook
  • Growth. Government gears up for a series of new announcements
  • Olympics legacy. Government looking for £13bn economic bounce
  • Quangos. 106 gone, 150 to be merged, target remains to cut 204 by 2015.

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

Speeches of the month

Deliberately left blank this month.

Quotes of the month

  • “Unlike the Olympians who have thrilled us over the past fortnight, our economy has not yet reached full fitness..” The Governor of the Bank of England awards few gold medals in his latest assessment of the economy
  • “We’re only half way through the first phase of our programme.” Cabinet Minister Francis Maude sharpens the knife for further quango reform
  • “I believe there is an appetite for a modern Guild approach in the sector.” The Skills Minister guilds the FE sector
  • “It is one of the great joys of my job that so many young people refuse to be held back by the enemies of promise.” Michael Gove spreads the pleasure at the start of another results season
  • “I don’t think I’ll be missing out on much. I love my job.” An 18 year old explains why he is opting for work rather than university
  • “Our findings present strong evidence that the centralised wage setting of teachers’ pay has a negative impact on pupils’ learning.” The University of Bristol report on their findings as things hot up around national pay scales.

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘Britannia Unchained.” The iconic future according to a new generation of Conservative MPs whose forthcoming publication continues to attract interest.

Steve Besley
Head of Policy

Policy Watches are intended to help colleagues keep up to date with national developments. Information is correct at the time of writing and is offered in good faith. No liability is accepted for decisions made on the basis of information given.