Policy Tracker – Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in June 2017

Full listing of a month of changes. June 2017

A month of significant developments. The unexpected general election result left education, like many areas of public policy, facing a more uncertain policy environment. This was confirmed in the subsequent Queen’s Speech which saw high-profile policies such as more grammar schools dropped. Elsewhere the Brexit negotiations began, the exam season drew to a close and issues of pay and funding continued to dominate.

Key headlines from the month

  • Children’s Laureate. Lauren Child takes up the reins for the next two years
  • Primary assessment. The government’s latest consultation closes
  • School places. 90% gain first choice primary place, 83.5% gain first choice secondary place 
  • Grammar schools. Education Secretary confirms current plans abandoned
  • School funding. Government confirms it will issue a statement ‘shortly’
  • Exam entries. Concerns expressed about curriculum balance in light of latest data from Ofqual
  • Summer exams. Ofqual tees up outcomes in a letter to schools
  • GCSEs. The DfE publishes new factsheets to highlight grading changes 
  • Exam appeals. Ofqual announces new system of second chance appeals
  • Mental health. Government announces a new training programme for teachers 
  • Teacher numbers. Increased slightly to 457.300 FTE
  • Short inspections. Ofsted consults on proposed operational changes 
  • English and maths. The Education and Skills Funding agency consults on the funding condition
  • Advanced Teacher status. The Education and Training Foundation launches a mastery qual for FE
  • FE teachers. UCU highlights concerns about casualization of the workforce 
  • FE. Ofsted publishes inspection outcome data for winter 2016/17
  • Institutes of Technology. Government confirms support via Queen’s Speech
  • Skills Minister. Anne Milton takes over and sets out her stall at the AELP Conference
  • TEF. First set of ratings from HE’s Teaching Excellence Framework published
  • Job and wage outcomes for graduates. The government publishes the latest set of data
  • OU. Announces a major re-structure.

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

  • Annual Literacy Survey. The National Literacy Trust publishes its latest survey of children’s reading habits finding the number of teenagers who enjoy reading now at an all-time high
  • 2017 Student Academic Experience. The HE Policy Institute and HE Academy publish the results of their latest survey showing students happier about teaching quality but less so about value for money 
  • What school did you go to? The Sutton Trust researches the education backgrounds of the new Commons and reports a slight (2%) increase compared to 2015, in the no of MPs from a comp 
  • College financial planning handbook 2017. The Education and Skills Funding agency updates its guidance to include among other things, special arrangements for colleges planning to merge
  • Provisional exam entry data. Ofqual publishes the latest set of figures on entries for this summer’s GCSE, AS and A’ level exams showing an increase in entries for EBacc subjects
  • Social Mobility Barometer. The Social Mobility Commission gauges the views via its new barometer highlighting concerns about a continuing mobility gap which some fear is getting worse
  • Optimising autonomy. The re-named Centre for Education Economics launches its blueprint for education reform incorporating open tendering for schools as required and stronger market metrics
  • Employment and earnings outcomes. The government publishes the latest data on graduate job and wage outcomes by subject and institution using the new Longitudinal Education Outcomes data
  • FE workforce data. The Education and Training Foundations publishes the latest set of data on the FE workforce in England noting a large number are part-time and many miss out on CPD
  • Progression Pathways 2017. UCAS reports on alternative routes through HE focusing on four in particular such as HNs and concludes that they serve many people well but they need better guidance
  • Queen’s Speech Briefing. The government publishes the full list of Bills, non-legislative measures and accompanying background notes for the latest legislative programme
  • UTCs: Beneath the Headlines. The NFER lists six recommendations to help UTCs gain a stronger foothold including tailored qualifications and specialist accountability measures
  • What students want from their university? Universities UK explores the changing relationship between students and their university as partners in learning or consumers with rights
  • Misunderstanding technical and professional education. Mary Curnock Cook spells out six problem areas facing the new T-Levels in a new briefing paper for the HE Policy Institute 
  • Apprenticeship off-the-job training. The DfE issues guidance and best practice case studies on how best to apply the 20% minimum off–the-job training rule for apprenticeships
  • The Funding of School Education. The OECD offers a new thematic study looking at what lessons can be learnt from how school funding operates elsewhere arguing that how it’s used that matters
  • Teacher retention and turnover. The NFER publishes the latest in its series of reports on teacher retention this time looking at the high movement in MATs suggesting careful workforce management
  • Time for a Change. The Social Mobility Commission reports on efforts to improve social mobility over the last two decades, calling for more to be done and listing 14 recommendations for education
  • Access agreement monitoring 2015/16. The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) publishes its latest annual report showing more money going in up but drop-out rates for some groups not improving.

Speeches of the month

  • Amanda Spielman’s 14 June Sixth Form Colleges Association speech reflects on the challenges faced by such colleges and stresses Ofsted’s interest in monitoring how well the curriculum is delivering
  • Philip Hammond’s 20 June Mansion House speech confirms the government is looking to balance the books by 2025 but that a lot depends on the prioritizing of business needs in Brexit 
  • The Queen’s Speech on 21 June sets out the legislative programme for what is intended to be the next the next two years with Brexit legislation dominating the list of 27 Bills
  • Justine Greening’s 21 June social mobility speech praises the companies that have made the top 50 in the new social mobility index and confirms that widening opportunity remains a key driver for the DfE
  • Amanda Spielman’s 23 June Wellington speech returns to the theme of Ofsted as a force for improvement in education developing research, thematic reviews and supporting school management
  • Sir Michael Barber’s 23 June Office for Students speech lists five priorities including regulation, access, teaching, employability and implementation for the new Office for Students.

Quotes of the month

  • “Now let’s get to work” – Theresa May ends her Statement about forming a new government the day after the country delivered its election verdict
  • “Who in God’s name would really want Nick Gibb’s job?” – the Times Ed reflects on some of the challenges in a job that covers exams, assessments, standards and teachers
  • “A job of delivery” – how the new Skills Minister sees her job
  • “We would like to suggest a meeting between all of us and you and your officials to discuss the future of education funding” – the unions waste no time in calling for a meeting with the PM
  • “This must have been a stonker of a year for you, so thank you” – Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman empathizes with Sixth Form Colleges
  • “The term T-Level conflates a purpose (technical) and the scale of the challenge (Level) which is troubling” – Mary Curnock Cook identifies a number of challenges around T-Levels
  • “My father had one job in his lifetime, I will have six jobs in my lifetime and my children will have six jobs at the same time” – business entrepreneur Robin Chase on how jobs are changing.

Word or phrase of the month

‘Potential over polish.’ What social mobility supporters advocate.

Steve Besley
Head of Policy

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