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

Very much skills month with 3 set piece Conferences, 4 major speeches and 9 reports (see below)

Key headlines from the month

  • Early years. Practitioners call for a rethink on baseline assessment
  • Maths hubs. The Chinese ‘specialists’ start work in a number of primaries
  • RS. Consultation on new GCSE, AS, A levels launched
  • PISA tests. UK schools invited to bid to use the tests next year
  • AS. Cambridge University advises schools to use them
  • Teachers’ Workload. Evidence gathering phase closes
  • TeachFirst. Goes for push into coastal towns, primaries and STEM teachers next
  • College of Teaching. Education Secretary due to announce interest soon
  • Pupil premium. Government confirms additional funding
  • British values. The Dept issues guidelines to help schools deliver
  • Functional Skills. Minister asks ETF to consider GCSE alternatives
  • NEETs. Numbers down in latest quarterly figures
  • Traineeships. Government flexes up for 2015
  • Apprenticeships. The SFA publishes the latest guidance for trailblazers
  • Apprenticeships/Traineeships. Education Committee continues taking evidence
  • FE. The AoC issues a 10-point Manifesto for the 2015 election
  • FE inspections. Ofsted publishes latest myth buster
  • Skills. Government confirms new devolved arrangement with Greater Manchester
  • Quangos. Down by a third in latest progress report

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

  • Engineering Skills Progress Report. BIS reports on progress made in developing partnerships and a range of school activity one year on from the landmark Perkins Review
  • Socio-economic differences in university outcomes in the UK. The Institute of Fiscal Studies crunches the data on students from poorer backgrounds and finds concerns all round
  • Greater Manchester Agreement. The government signs up to plans to devolve responsibilities in areas like business growth and skills to the Combined Authority from 2017
  • EFA Business Plan 2014-2015. The Education Funding Agency confirms priorities and headline figures in the latest version of its Business Plan
  • Student Loans: Government Response. The government stands firm in its response to the earlier Select Committee Inquiry and refuses to call for a further review of the fee loans system
  • Our impact. TeachFirst highlights the extent of its reach and impact over the last decade particularly in disadvantaged areas and gears up for more to come
  • A Better Off Britain. The CBI proposes a range of measures to help close the attainment gap in schools and raise skill levels in its latest blueprint for economic recovery
  • Licensed to Create. The RSA publishes a collection of essays from leading ‘experts’ on how best to improve teacher quality and innovation
  • SFCA Manifesto 2015. The Sixth Form Colleges’ Association calls for a re-coupling of the AS and a competitive process for establishing new sixth forms in its 2015 Manifesto brochure
  • Understanding the success of London’s Schools. Bristol University’s Research Centre offers the latest research and finds the higher aspiration of ethnic groups a key factor
  • Implementing Rigour and Responsiveness. The FE Minister updates the sector on the latest developments in his latest briefing for Governors and Principals
  • Skills beyond school. The OECD looks at post-16 vocational systems across 20 countries and stresses the importance of employer engagement, work experience and responsive quals
  • FE Commissioner’s Annual Report. The FE Commissioner issues his first annual report and lists some of the lessons learnt from interventions undertaken in eleven colleges over the year
  • Still in tune? The Skills Commission publishes the latest in a series of reports suggesting that the skills system is not fully in tune with the changing needs of the labour market
  • A roadmap for free education. The National Union of Students calls for a scrapping of fee loans in favour of greater taxation from employers and the wealthiest in society
  • Too good to fail. The HE Commission finds the current fee loan system unsustainable and lists six other funding models as possible alternatives
  • Traineeships Funding Consultation: Government Response. The government confirms it will increase the flexibility of traineeships as it responds to earlier consultation
  • Why textbooks count. Tim Oates explains why the best ones at least do and highlights the features of those used in best-performing jurisdictions
  • Growth Through People. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills adds its voice to a more employer driven system as it publishes a further report on the state of the UK skills system

Speeches of the month

  • Nicky Morgan’s 10 November Your Life speech sets the context for this new campaign designed to raise awareness among school leavers about the importance of STEM subjects
  • Ed Miliband’s 10 November CBI Conference speech tells business leaders how a future Labour government would work with employers to create a fairer society with skills for all
  • Nick Gibb’s 12 November Reform speech espouses the virtues of school autonomy and claims that it’s helping to drive improved school performance
  • Nick Boles’ 18 November AoC speech highlights latest developments around English and maths as well as some new flexibilities for traineeship programmes
  • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 18 November CBI speech argues that the moment is ripe for reform of vocational education and sets out four priorities for achieving this
  • Tristram Hunt’s 19 November AoC speech ticks a number of boxes about voc quals and confirms that Labour is working on a White Paper on future reforms to the FE/voc system
  • Nick Gibb’s 20 November ‘publishers’ speech stresses the importance of high-quality school textbooks in learning and calls on publishers to stay ahead of the game
  • Glenys Stacey’s 20 November Westminster Education Forum speech puts the current A level reforms in context and explains how the accreditation process is going
  • Tristram Hunt’s 25 November Walthamstow speech calls for a new settlement between state and private schools with both sides working to new partnership arrangements
  • David Laws’ 27 November CentreForum speech calls for stronger local accountability and inspection arrangements for Academy chains
  • Nicky Morgan’s 27 November Birmingham speech sets out a new more collaborative vision of education

Quotes of the month

  • “Education is a partnership. It isn’t a battle or a war.” The Education Secretary
  • “It’s still by no means completely sorted out but it’s a lot better than the situation we inherited.“ Francis Maude on the government’s quango reforms
  • “If we win the election, our focus will be on a revolution in vocational education and apprenticeships.” Ed Miliband addresses employers at the CBI Conference
  • “What I’ve found challenging is that you can be busy without achieving much.” The Shadow Education Minister on life in Westminster
  • “I have to admit it made me gulp when I first heard him say it.” The Skills Minister on how he felt when he first heard the Prime Minister’s target of 3m more apprentices
  • “Often it is the ad hoc verbal feedback made in a lesson that that can have the most impact.” The general secretary of the NAHT on the pressure to keep records on everything

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘Scope creep.’ A project that starts looking at one thing but ends up with 100s of others.

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.