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

Its been Party Conference season this month and the main political Parties have been carefully positioning themselves as the build up to 2015 continues.

Education topics attracting attention have included: meals, where Lib-Dems have proposed extending free school meals to younger and older recipients and Labour have called for breakfast clubs in primary schools; exams where Michael Gove has stepped in to curb early GCSE entry; and apprenticeships where the Lib-Dems have proposed them as part of a unified 14-19 system and Labour have called for big employers to train more home grown recruits. Elsewhere a number of important reports have heralded the start of the new ‘school year’ including for schools the (nearly complete) National Curriculum, for colleges new accountability proposals for 16-19 and for HE, the launch of FutureLearn and an interim report from UCAS on the 2013 recruitment picture.

Key headlines from the month

  • SATs. Maths and writing slightly up, reading slightly down in this year’s figures
  • Free school lunches. Reception, Yrs 1 and 2 and eligible post 16s can line up from 2014
  • National Curriculum. Final version out, build up begins
  • Schools. 93 Free Schools, 13 Studio Schools, 12 UTCs all prepare to begin life
  • GCSE. Early entries curbed
  • Tutors. Nearly 25% of 11-16 yr olds have them according to Sutton Trust survey
  • School improvement. Ofsted report 9% increase in rate of improvement
  • English/maths. 16-18 yr olds without C grade GCSE prepare to plough on
  • Careers guidance. CIPD, Pearson and Ofsted highlight further concerns
  • 16-19. Consultation on new accountability measures launched
  • Apprenticeships. Labour’s Skills Taskforce call for L3 gold standard model
  • Education and Training Foundation. Advertises for key roles
  • Employer Ownership Pilots. Further successful bidders announced
  • SFA. Consult on new business rules for funding adult qualifications
  • Uni fees. Lib-Dems hold off further rethink until after 2015
  • Uni choice. Head north for ‘fun’ according to latest Which? survey
  • MOOCs. The FutureLearn online platform launches with 21 unis on board

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

Speeches of the month

  • Michael Gove’s 5 Sep Policy Exchange speech reminds any doubters that teaching remains a valued and noble profession which he says he reveres.
  • Matthew Hancock’s 5 Sept Ofsted speech focuses on the three main accountability weapons at present: high-quality information; minimum standards; tougher inspections.
  • Vince Cable’s 11 Sept Industrial Strategy one-year on speech charts progress made and sees strengthening the skills supply chain as essential for UK competitiveness.
  • The President’s 12 Sept UUK Conference address outlines four issues facing the HE sector: student funding; research and capital funding; regulation; international positioning.
  • Elizabeth Truss’s 18 Sept CBI speech explains how the Government is transforming the school curriculum and asks for employers’ support in 3 areas: maths; languages; science.
  • Stephen Twigg’s 22 Sept Conference speech lists work exp tasters in primary, higher standards in FE and reversing the current changes to the AS level as key priorities.

Quotes of the month

  • “More tough choices will be required after the next election to find many billions of further savings and anyone who thinks those decisions can be ducked is not fit for Government.”George Osborne throws down a challenge
  • “Offering free taster courses online is a no-brainer.” One Vice-Chancellor on the MOOCs revolution
  • “Whenever I can, I give thanks for their work not just privately but on any public platform
  • I’m given.” Michael Gove comes to praise teachers, everywhere
  • “If this change goes ahead, we will reverse it.” Stephen Twigg on de-coupling the AS level
  • “There is time and space in the school day and each week, term and year to range beyond the National Curriculum specifications.”  The DfE on the space created by the new slimmed down National Curriculum

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘BOYD: Bring your own device.’ Important reminder for all meeting enthusiasts now
  • ‘Digital Storefront.’  What all leading providers should have. 

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.