Policy Tracker - Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in July 2015

A month in which the traditional rush to get things out before the summer break was clearly evident.  

Key headlines from the month

  • Reception. Baseline assessment providers confirmed
  • Phonics. Government offers grants to help share good practice
  • Assessment. Review announced to consider how to assess pupils with low attainment
  • Assessment without levels. Commission report now set for Sept
  • Mindfulness. Wellcome Trust launch major new trial in secondary schools
  • 2017 GCSEs, AS, A levels. DfE and Ofqual consult on content and assessment
  • PSHE. Caroline Lucas MP re-introduces Bill on it
  • Prevent. New duty on schools to help ‘prevent’ young people being drawn into terrorism
  • Coasting schools. DfE draft definition
  • Inspections. New arrangements outlined in a letter to schools
  • Performance tables. Government confirms changes to 2015 arrangements
  • School funding. Rates for 2016/17 set
  • Child Poverty. Attainment at age of 16 to be included in new measures
  • School to work. NIACE set up new website
  • Social Mobility. Lords Committee takes evidence of impact on young people
  • Teachers’ Pay. Limited to 1% increase a year for each of next 4 years
  • RSCs. Education Committee to conduct an autumn inquiry
  • NEETs. Local council score cards to be published each summer
  • Apprenticeships. New Delivery Board set up, trailblazer guidance updated
  • Apprenticeships. Government consults on correct usage of term
  • Functional Skills. Government commissions more work
  • 25 + yr olds. Entitled to new National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour from April 2016
  • FE funding. SFA confirms nature of cuts for 2015/16
  • FE. Government announces area-based reviews
  • Cornwall. Becomes first county to sign initial devo deal
  • HE. Universities UK launches ‘stay in EU’ campaign
  • Maintenance grants. Replaced by loans for new entrants from 2016/17
  • HE funding. HEFCE confirms cuts for 2014/15, 2015/16
  • HE fees. Commission calls for OBR-led review.

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

Speeches of the month

  • Jo Johnson’s 1 July UUK speech sets out the three core manifesto objectives (teaching excellence/value for money/extending opportunity) that the Minister intends to pursue
  • Nicky Morgan’s 1 July Sutton Trust speech calls for schools to apply a more targeted approach to the use of pupil premium funds
  • George Osborne’s 8 July Budget speech includes significant changes to welfare, living wage, apprenticeship funding and HE as part of a new, 5 year settlement with the country
  • Tristram Hunt’s 9 July Education Reform speech summons the spirit of Jim Callaghan’s Great debate as he calls for ‘bottom-up’ thinking on a Nat Bacc and other matters
  • Nick Gibb’s 9 July Education Reform speech grapples with the purpose of education and comes up with a love of knowledge, preparation for life and developing the skills for the future
  • Jo Johnson’s 16 July science speech outlines the ingredients of what’s termed a ‘One Nation Science’ strategy built around regional mapping, STEM support and greater diversity
  • Nicky Morgan’s 16 July creative arts speech declares her and her government’s unwavering support for the creative arts in schools
  • Nicky Morgan’s 29 July Teach First speech offers teachers more working groups to help consider reductions in workloads, better CPD and support for the College of Teaching.

Quotes of the month

  • “While many firms do a brilliant job training their workforces, there are too many large companies who leave the training to others and take a free ride on the system.” The Chancellor on the case for an apprenticeship levy
  • “We expect cuts to unprotected depts between 2015/16 and 2019/20 of around £19bn to be announced in the Spending Review.” The Institute of Fiscal Studies on what lies ahead
  • “If assessing learning is hard, assessing teaching quality is harder.” Alison Wolf on the TEF
  • “I used to send very nasty letter to parents who didn’t turn up to parents’ evening and say you’re not going to get your son’s or daughter’s report until you come and see me.” Sir Michael Wilshaw on how to deal with ‘feckless’ parents
  • “At the time we were laughed at by almost everybody. Now most schools are taking up the teaching of character, well-being and resilience.” Sir Anthony Seldon on school happiness
  • “A teacher cannot function on Twitter like someone who works in a supermarket or an accountancy firm.” Head teacher Geoff Barton highlights the dangers of social media.

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘Casual leadership.’ In Ofsted’s sights apparently.

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.