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

Education in the UK in May 2017.

A month overshadowed by the horrific event in Manchester. Elsewhere, it’s been a big month for reports and election activities with a full listing below.

Key headlines from the month

  • Schools breakfasts. Education Datalab and Schools Week challenge the funding
  • Primary school places. Parents get to hear if they have their preferred choice for September
  • SATs. This year’s programme successfully completed 
  • Key Stage Assessment. Labour promises a commission to review the whole thing
  • EBacc. Conservative Manifesto proposes 75% participation by 2022 
  • Mental health. First prof development centre for teachers opens
  • Teachers (1.) NFER report that teachers of core EBacc subjects often have highest leaving rate
  • Teachers (2.) Tory manifesto proposes scrapping student loan repayments for practicing teachers
  • Teachers (3.) Labour promises ending the pay cap and reducing workloads
  • Governors. Schools to be able to remove inappropriate ones
  • Comprehensive Future. Launches a campaign against any further expansion of grammar schools
  • Schools. Conservative Manifesto confirms continuing system reforms 
  • Moving chairs. Russell Hobby confirmed as next Chief Exec of Teach First
  • EMAs. Labour pledges to bring back
  • 16-18 NETs. Numbers up in latest stats
  • T-levels. Major Parties come out in support in their Manifestos
  • ESF funding. Learning and Work Institute launches a campaign to save
  • AoC. Confirms Dr Alison Birkinshaw as its next President
  • Institutes of Technology. Conservative Manifesto comes out in support
  • FE/HE funding. Conservatives propose a major review in their Manifesto
  • Tuition fees. Labour pledges to scrap along with restoring maintenance grants
  • Guardian 2018 uni rankings. Oxbridge and Russell Groups top the annual listing 
  • Foreign students. Conservatives to keep in migrant totals, Labour/Lib-Dem to take out.

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

  • Self-employment and the gig economy. The Work and Pensions Committee rushes out the results of its inquiry calling on an incoming government to offer better rights and support for such workers
  • Recruitment and retention of teachers. The government issues its response to the Education Committee’s earlier Inquiry recognizing the importance of the issue but offering little new
  • Primary assessment. The Education Committee offers its initial thoughts, recommending some changes at KS2 and a reduction in high-stakes assessment to help create a better balance
  • Children and young people’s mental health. In another report rushed out before Parliament was dissolved, the Education and Health Committees worry about the effect of cuts on support services
  • AELP Manifesto. The Association of Employment and Learning Providers lists ten priorities largely around funding and support for apprenticeships including a target of 4m quality starts
  • Doorstep Manifesto. The Head teachers’ Roundtable outline two key questions, one on funding and one on teacher supply, to ask prospective candidates on the doorstep
  • ASCL Manifesto. The Association of School and College Leaders highlights five recommendations in its Election 2017 Manifesto around funding, teacher recruitment and policy stability
  • GE 2017 Policy Priorities. The Russell Group of Universities lists five priorities including a secure Brexit, a new visa system for staff and students, investment for science and research
  • NAHT Manifesto. Manifesto. The National Association of Head teachers highlights five priorities covering funding, teacher recruitment, accountability and the curriculum 
  • SFCA Manifesto. The Sixth Form Colleges’ Association makes four recommendations with a £200 per student funding uplift at the top of their list
  • Manifesto 2017. The Association of Colleges (AoC) lists six recommendations covering skills, apprenticeship stability, fair funding, strong colleges, learning accounts, and access
  • OECD Skills Outlook 2017. The OECD reports on how different member countries are equipping workers with the right sets of core and specialist skills to be able to participate in global value chains 
  • Devolving Skills. The Collab Group reports on some principles needed to make devolved skills systems operate effectively and aligned to the needs of users
  • A loaded dice. Education Datalab reports on its research work into the way the 11-plus is working in one Authority, namely Kent, and concludes that its arbitrary nature resembles a loaded dice
  • For the many. Labour launches its Manifesto promising among other things to reverse cuts in school funding, scrap university tuition fees and restore Education Maintenance Allowances
  • Change Britain’s Future. The Lib-Dems launch their Manifesto promising other thigs to invest more in education, establish an Educational Standards Authority and support lifelong learning
  • Forward Together. The Conservatives launch their Manifesto pledging among other things to support selective schools, T- levels and the retention of overseas students in net migration targets 
  • Testing the Water. LKMco reports on its initial commissioned research into views on the future of assessment highlighting many of the issues around accountability, teacher role and pupil pressures
  • Assessing the role of grammar schools in promoting social mobility. UCL’s Institute of Education publishes a new research Paper highlighting the negative impact on those who don’t get in
  • Success in the 21st Century. Head teacher and former policy adviser Peter Hyman explains the importance of learning through head, heart and hand in an essay series for the think tank IPPR
  • State of Education 2017. The Key publishes its annual sweeping survey of the current issues and challenges facing schools with funding, teacher retention and curriculum balance all prominent
  • Tech transitions. The think tank IPPR examines UTCs and Studio Schools, finding them at a difficult evolutionary stage calling on UTCs to become 16+ T-level providers and studio schools to join MATs.

Speeches of the month

Deliberately left blank during the general election period

Quotes of the month

  • “You can have all the evidence in the world but head teachers have told me grammar schools are good for disadvantaged pupils” – the PM defends the inclusion of grammars in her Party’s Manifesto
  • “A programme that is radical and responsible” – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launches his Party’s Manifesto
  • “Neither addresses the long-term challenges we face” – the Institute for Fiscal Studies summarizes the two main Party Manifestos
  • “As is typical in the English education system, it has been haphazard, underfunded and led by institutions” – the Deputy Chief Exec of the AoC reflects on the area review process
  • “Schools are safe places and part of their safeness derives from the clearly enforced routines” – ASCL gen-sec Geoff Barton on the safe havens schools can provide in the wake of the recent terror atrocity
  • “Other grades don’t correspond exactly to the old grades but they do roughly” – the Chair of the Independent Schools Council explains the new grading scale for GCSEs
  • “As in previous years, we expect to see students letting off steam on social media” – Ofqual issues a spoiler alert as the exam season gets under way
  • “There are terms these children have to learn in English language and grammar which are completely new to me, aged 73” – the author Michael Morpurgo reflects on this year’s SATs.

Word or phrase of the month

Rosemary. With claims that the aroma from the oil can improve memory, sales jump 180+% during the exam season.

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.