Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in April 2014

The poet Robert Browning wrote that it was good to be back in England now that April was here. Others may look at how busy things have been in the world of education over the last month from exam reform, to skills training to student loans and wonder how true that is.

Key headlines from the month

  • Problem-solving. 15 yr olds in England score highly in the latest PISA test results
  • PSHE. Education Committee announce new inquiry
  • GCSEs. Consultation on new grading scale published
  • GCSEs. Latest content requirements, assessment and scheduling all published
  • A levels. Latest developments for AS and A level also published
  • Tech Levels. 77 new ones announced for this Sept
  • Core Maths. Consultation on proposed technical guidance published
  • Exam reform. Education Committee announce new short sharp inquiry
  • UCAS. Launches proposals for new tariff
  • Careers. DfE publish latest statutory guidance
  • iDEA. New digital enterprise award for young people launched by the Duke of York
  • Regional Schools Commissioners. The first six now appointed
  • School teachers. Record numbers now working in schools
  • Head teachers. Work begins on new set of standards
  • Maths teachers. New Golden Hello scheme launched for FE
  • NAHT edge. NAHT’s new affiliate union announced
  • FE. Minister writes detailed end of term report
  • Adult literacy and numeracy. New research centre announced
  • LEPs. Labour promise support as part of new local growth plans
  • Student Loans. New student panel inquiry launched by Universities UK

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

Speeches of the month

  • Liam Byrne’s 1st April Robbins Rebooted speech sets out the five standard principles guiding Labour’s review of HE funding
  • Matthew Hancock’s 1st April European Jobs and Skills Summit speech extols the current vocational reforms and calls for more research on the links between education and employment
  • Michael Gove’s 1st April British Chambers of Commerce speech sets a new ambition to eradicate illiteracy and innumeracy
  • David Willetts 3rd April Universities UK conference speech stresses the brighter side of UKHE with opportunities for growth, research, wider participation and economic returns all stressed
  • Ed Miliband’s 7th April local growth speech pledges a massive devolvement of responsibility to new city regions in a bid to stimulate local growth
  • Elizabeth Truss’s 7th April early years speech stresses the importance of Schools Direct and Teach First in helping raise the quality of early years provision
  • Elizabeth Truss’s 10 April Reform speech points to how some of the Government’s reforms are contributing to a self-improving system
  • Vince Cable’s 23rd April Cambridge Lecture proposes a strengthened high-level technician route

Quotes of the month

  • “Our message is clear. There are no barriers to setting up a higher education campus. If this is your town’s dream we want you to pursue it.” The HE Minister supports those who dare to dream
  • “It’s now clear that what is proposed is a system that combines the worst of a free for all and a money pit.” Labour’s Liam Byrne on the HE funding system
  • “Let us now move away from our snobbish caste-ridden hierarchical obsession with university status.” Vince Cable on the Crosland vision for a high-level technical sector
  • “I believe the sector deserves credit for consistently improving performance as measured by Ofsted.” The FE Minister on an improving FE sector
  • Today’s 15 year olds are the Robinson Crusoes of a future that remains largely unknown to us.” The OECD on the journey for modern 15 year olds
  • “We must ensure no child grows up in modern Britain with their futures irredeemably blighted by illiteracy and innumeracy.” Michael Gove on a new mission
  • “We have had discussions with the Secretary of State and the exam boards holding the ring really on what is a manageable next phase of reform.” The Chief Executive of Ofqual on the latest wave of exam reforms

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘Adultifying.’ What critics claim is being done to nursery education
  • “An individual’s capacity to engage in cognitive processing to understand and resolve problem situations where a method of solution is not immediately obvious.” PISA definition of problem-solving competence.

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.