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

The start of another education year and no shortage of activity as per below. 

Key headlines from the month

  • Summer born children. Government planning to allow deferred school entry
  • Assessment without levels. Government responds to final report
  • Phonics standards. Up 3% to 77% for Yr 1’s this year
  • Literacy. Nicky Morgan launches latest drive to get more books in schools
  • IT. BT steps up support for primary schools with more training and resources
  • Money for Mandarin. Chancellor pledges £10m
  • Free Schools. Government pledges biennial waves every year to 2020
  • Academies/free schools. Labour indicates an interest in greater local control
  • Admissions appeals. Up 8% this year
  • Lie-ins. Some teenagers to be given longer lie ins to assess impact on GCSE results
  • Smartphones in class. New behaviour group to look at
  • ParentInfo. Government launches new online tool to help parents keep up with teenage trends
  • Core maths. New post-16 programmes launched
  • 2017 GCSEs and A levels. DfE and Ofqual consult
  • Qual reforms. Ofqual sends out postcards to explain
  • Enterprise advisers. Careers and Enterprise Company rolls out its new network
  • Teachers CPD. Taskforce calls for views
  • Inspections. New inspection teams for new inspection approach
  • College of Teaching. New trustees announced
  • Education Bill. Heads to the Lords
  • Enterprise Bill. Starts its journey at the Lords
  • Apprenticeships. Statutory definition included in the Enterprise Bill
  • Area-based reviews. Latest list updated
  • FE English/maths teachers. ETF launches latest training modules for teachers
  • English/maths GCSE 16-19 resits. Funding conditions relaxed
  • RQF. Ofqual outlines arrangements for the new post QCF quals framework
  • Local devolution. AoC group to review of impact on skills and FE
  • Undergrad numbers. UCAS report 3% increase for UKHE for 2015/16
  • Degree awarding powers. Minister lifts moratorium
  • Office of the Independent Adjudicator. Extends its remit into other HE settings
  • Support for women at uni. Universities UK commissioned to set up new taskforce
  • Campus extremism. HEFCE launches consultation on compliance with new Prevent duty
  • HE quality assessment. BIS Committee announces new inquiry.  

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

Speeches of the month

  • Nick Gibb’s 5 Sept ResearchED speech highlights the traditional virtues of good teaching and learning and how the government is supporting them
  • Jo Johnson’s 9 Sept Universities UK speech sets out the key principles behind his forthcoming Green Paper for the sector and gets Vice-Chancellors talking as a result
  • Sir Michael Wilshaw’s 10 Sept School Improvement speech highlights 3 concerns: regional differences; primary-secondary transition; and the long tail of underachievement
  • David Cameron’s 11 September speech sets out 3 principles (innovation, devolution, efficiency) for making the state smarter and more effective
  • Nicky Morgan’s 24 Sept child literacy speech teams up with David Walliams again to launch the next phase of support and activity.  

Quotes of the month

  • “Across Whitehall we’re looking in every dept at budgets that aren’t protected.” Nicky Morgan on the dangers of a lack of protection ahead of the Spending Review
  • “We are not rushing to judgement though the silence is ominous.” Vince Cable and Chuka Umunna join forces to reflect on the government’s industrial policy
  • “It’s akin to Byron burger having to ask permission of McDonalds to open up a new restaurant.” The HE Minister on finding validation partners in HE
  • “My biggest frustration with the media coverage is the awful word Oxbridge.” The V.C of Cambridge on the need for distinctiveness
  • “I think fragile is the way to put it.” The Education Secretary on the mood in FE
  • “We don’t ask much from government, usually it’s best if they keep out of the way but a sustainable supply of well trained staff and the resources we need to deploy them-these are the basics and they’re under threat.” The gen secretary of NAHT on the basic tools
  • “The government should gather a panel of experts to design a model curriculum. This content would then be laid out in a logical, sequential format: year by year, term by term.” How to design a curriculum by a former superhead
  • “Any head worth their salt should stand up and ban them.” Sir M Wilshaw on mobiles in school. 

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘Cultural appeasers.’ School leaders who acquiesce rather than challenge, according to Ofsted
  • ‘Disengagement contracts.’ What lies behind a lot of poor teaching according to the HE Minister. 

Steve Besley
Head of Policy
policywatch@pearson.com

Policy Eye is a nearly weekly additional service from Policy Watch offering a regular round-up of UK education headlines and stories from over the previous 7 days.