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

It’s been a bad month for trees, not just because of the storms but also because of the huge number of reports published this month covering A levels, apprenticeships, core maths, secondary school accountability, HE regulation and university economic activity.

Elsewhere, Free Schools, social mobility and adult skills have also been in the eye of various storms. With reports on GCSE, adult VQs and inspections to come, things aren’t likely to calm down for a while.

Key headlines from the month

  • Phonics test. DfE to withhold pass mark in future until tests completed
  • Reporting pupil progress. NAHT set up Commission to establish how best to do it
  • Accountability. DfE outline secondary school model for 2016
  • A levels. DfE and Ofqual launch further round of consultations
  • Maths. New qualification to be developed for beyond GCSE
  • Teaching bursaries. More money added particularly for core subjects
  • UTCs. New wing of Career Colleges announced
  • Apprenticeships. Trailblazers lined up to test out new implementation plan
  • Apprenticeships. Disturbing figures emerge about paying below the odds
  • Traineeships. More money added for 19+ recruits
  • Work experience. DfE provide further guidance for use in 16-19 Study Programmes
  • Youth unemployment. Slightly (0.1%) up again in June-August figures
  • Education and Training Foundation. Gains funding and new boss
  • Adult skills. First major survey by OECD reveals some worrying gaps
  • Adult literacy/numeracy. MPs debate in wake of OECD report
  • HE. The OFT calls for info on how choice is exercised
  • Part-time HE. Latest report seeks to reverse downward trend

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

Speeches of the month

  • Michael Gove’s 1 October Conference speech exalts his Dept’s ‘visionary’ reforms for tackling the culture of low expectations
  • David Cameron’s 2 October Conference speech sets new ambitions on eradicating illiteracy and dumbing down, raising apprenticeship opportunities and learning or earning until age 25
  • Matthew Hancock’s 15 October Edge speech sketches out a new vision for colleges as social enterprises led by an elite tier
  • Elizabeth Truss’s 17 October School Leaders Summit speech expands on the Government’s current reforms and implies there’s plenty more where they came from
  • Alan Milburn’s 17 October Social Mobility Report launch suggests that things remain pretty difficult for a lot of children whose families are trapped on low wages and high living costs
  • Nick Clegg’s 24 October ‘education’ speech raises the temperature with a call for qualified teachers for all schools and a Champions League of Head Teachers for some

Quotes of the month

  • “A land of opportunity means educating our children and I mean all our children.” The Prime Minister on what his land of opportunity means for children
  • “Transient poverty, growing insecurity and stalling mobility are far more widespread than politicians, employers and educators have so far recognised.” The Social Mobility report on the realities for many
  • “Your employer will support your training and pay you at least the hourly national Minimum Wage.” The Skills Minister tells new apprentices what to expect
  • “We are midway through our reforms.”  The Parliamentary Under Secretary digs in for the long haul
  • “If you want to set up a Free School when we are in Government we will be on your side.”The new Shadow Education Secretary tries to set the record straight
  • “So, yes I support free schools and academies but not with exemptions from minimum standards.” The Deputy PM ads another tune

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘Thicket of complexity.’ How Sir Andrew Witty described the HE funding regime
  • ‘Englicious.’  Resource site to help teenagers grapple with English grammar.

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.