Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in March 2013

A generally education-lite Budget provided the set piece occasion of the month although there were some important related pronouncements on growth, pay, sector strategies and efficiency.

Away from the Budget, the month also saw subject specialists out in force about revisions to the National Curriculum, a petition raised against a standalone AS qualification, consultations launched on criteria for 16-19 performance tables and apprenticeship reform, wheels greased for the creation of a Single Local Growth Fund and reflections cast on the HE reforms

Key headlines from the month

  • Primary schools. KS2 floor standard raised to 65% for 2014
  • National Curriculum. Critics take up their pens to protest about ‘forced’ knowledge
  • School improvement. Ofsted report 74% of schools now good or outstanding
  • School sport. £150m for each of next 2 yrs announced
  • PSHE. DfE confirm no change
  • 16 – 19 performance tables. Consultation under way on future course criteria
  • A levels. Debate hardens over the case for a standalone AS
  • Apprenticeships. Over 800 activities in the annual National Apprenticeship Week
  • Apprenticeship reforms. Consultation under way following review response
  • HE fees. Maintenance grants up but no increase in fees for 2014/15
  • P/t HE. UUK launch a review
  • National Numeracy campaign.1 year old and some important developments ahead
  • Adult Voc Quals. Whitehead Review launched, reporting Sept 2013
  • Single Local Growth Fund.  Set for launch in April 2015
  • Industrial Strategy. 2nd of 11 key sector strategies published

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

Speeches of the month

  • David Laws’s 5 March speech raises the bar at Key Stage 2 from next year as part of the crusade to close the achievement gap
  • David Laws’s 6 March National Education Trust speech highlights some of the new accountability measures being introduced to raise standards
  • David Cameron’s 7 March Economy speech sets the context for the forthcoming Budget with its emphasis on sticking with Plan A
  • Elizabeth Truss’s 7 March Institute of Education speech highlights the continuing importance of English and maths as part of the A level reforms
  • David Cameron’s 11 March Apprenticeship speech argues that the apprenticeship route should become a new norm for school leavers
  • Glenys Stacey’s 14 March School Leaders’ Summit speech explains how Ofqual is approaching the challenging task of reforming GCSEs
  • Stephen Twigg’s 16 March ASCL speech sets out Opposition thinking on school reform
  • Elizabeth Truss’s 18 March Fellowship Commission speech looks at the proposed freedoms offered by the new National Curriculum
  • George Osborne’s 20 March Budget speech sets out the gory details on the economy

Quotes of the month

  • “ I know that is tough but it is fair.’  The Chancellor caps pay rises for another year
  • “Higher education in England is a success story; it is adaptable and resilient and will continue to move from strength to strength.” HEFCE expresses confidence in UKHE
  • “It’s been proven that every pound the Government puts into Apprenticeships pays off 20 times over.” The Prime Minister helps launch National Apprenticeship Week
  • “If the journey was an alphabet in which we are seeking to travel from A to Z, I would now judge that we are somewhere around M.” The Schools Minister on the education journey
  • “This mountain of data will not develop children’s ability to think.” 100 academics condemn the changes to the National Curriculum
  • “If these qualifications are not ready by say Dec 2014 we will put the flag up and look at whether we keep faith with the existing qualifications for another year.” The Chief Executive of Ofqual on the race to get new GCSEs ready

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘National attention deficit syndrome.’ What some experts think too many internet obsessed children suffer from
  • ‘Aspiration.’  The Chancellor said it a lot in his Budget speech.

Steve Besley
Head of Policy

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