Policy Tracker - keeping track of what happened in the world of education in April 2018

Policy Tracker

It’s been a month which has seen the Office for Students formally take its place in the HE landscape, a wave of critical reports greet the apprenticeship levy’s first birthday, the Education Committee announce important new inquiries on funding and SEND, Ofqual publish its latest annual survey on views of qualifications, and NFER tasked with developing the new reception baseline assessment tool.

Key headlines from the month

  • Reception Baseline Assessment. NFER to prepare for roll out from 2020 
  • Primary places. Places for those starting primary school in Sept confirmed
  • Home education. Government issues call for evidence as it considers registration scheme
  • Creative arts. DfE puts more money into leading schemes
  • Citizenship education. Lords report calls for it to be given statutory status
  • Computer Science GCSE. Ofqual confirms it as exam-based this year and next 
  • SEND. Education Committee launches new Inquiry
  • Ofqual. Publishes its latest Corporate Plan 
  • Data protection. DFE issues guidance ahead of new regulations
  • School inspections. Ofsted extends the time between short inspections for good schools
  • School/College funding. Education Committee launches new Inquiry
  • FE Commissioner. Government lays down remit and outcome measures
  • Measuring performance. Government launches consultation of FE provision on separate sites
  • Apprenticeships. A number of reports criticize the levy one year on from its introduction
  • CITB. Launches new business model as enabler rather than direct deliverer of training
  • UCAS. Applications from English 18 yr olds high in latest stats
  • Fee loans. Repayment threshold raised to £25,000 a year from 6 April
  • Office for Students. Outlines initial priorities as it formally opens for business
  • HE funding in England. The OfS confirms arrangements for 2018/1
  • National Living Wage. Increased from £7.50 to £7.83 from 1 April
  • Education policy. Labour consults on its National Education Service principles

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

  • Towards a National Education Service The Labour Party launches a 12 week consultation on the key principles behind its proposed ‘cradle – grave’ National Education Service (NES)
  • Business Plan The Children’s Commissioner sets out her core priorities for the coming year with a focus on digital, excluded and disabled children 
  • European Social Fund The Work and Pensions Committee calls on the government to get a move on and design a replacement Fund for life after Brexit 
  • Corporate Plan 2018 – 21 Ofqual publishes its objectives for the next three years with plans to enhance how grade boundaries are set, deal with malpractice and support latest qual developments 
  • Stop Start The Sutton Trust publishes research figures showing a drop in the number of Sure Start centres and calls for the government to undertake its promised system review 
  • Benchmarking widening participation The HE Policy Institute publishes a new measure by the V.C. of Anglia Ruskin which generates a different set of rankings
  • FE Commissioner’s role The Skills Minister outlines the main responsibilities and outcome measures for the Commissioner and his team in the coming year
  • Apprenticeship training The Education Policy institute (EPI) reports on some case study work on the Swiss model of apprenticeships suggesting that they should start at age 16 and last for 3 yrs 
  • Funding for HE in England 2018/19 The Office for Students picks up the funding role from HEFCE and outlines the key messages for this first, transitional year
  • Serious Violence Strategy The Home Secretary publishes the latest government proposals for dealing with the recent upsurge in knife and gun crime calling on education to play its part
  • Performance reporting in FE The government launches consultation on how best to report separate performance for when a college is part of a group or has multi-site provision
  • Out of school education settings The government responds to its earlier consultation by confirming it will adopt a voluntary rather than mandatory code of practice as part of a wider communities strategy
  • Home education The government issues a call for evidence on home educated children and whether for example there should be more formal registration and oversight to prevent system abuse
  • Using subcontractors in the delivery of apprenticeships The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) offers latest guidance with more to follow in the coming months
  • The great training robbery The Reform think tank offers its thoughts on the first year of the apprenticeship levy suggesting that radical reform of both the levy and 3m target are needed 
  • Apprenticeships in England The OECD praises many of the reforms in England but calls for more general education for young apprenticeships, greater employer engagement and quality checks
  • Counter-extremism policy in English schools The House of Commons Library service offers a useful summary of latest policy developments and attendant duties on schools
  • Annual Parents Survey Ofsted reports on its latest survey of parents showing continued high awareness of Ofsted but a fall in those who think it provides a definitive measure of school quality 
  • Artificial intelligence in the UK The Lords Select Committee reports on its inquiry into AI indicating that the UK could become a world leader but only but only if an ethical code is adopted
  • Good Career Guidance The Gatsby Foundation publishes a handbook of case studies and suggested approaches to help schools apply its eight benchmarks of good practice
  • How has Internet use changed between 2012 and 2015? The OECD reports on its survey of 15 yr olds in OECD countries showing that internet use has shot up across all groups and countries
  • Demystifying MAT expansion The Key for School Leaders reports on how best to plan for multi-academy trust (MAT) expansion, coming up with a number of good practice ground rules 
  • Building Trusts The Ambition School Leadership charity reports on its commissioned research by LKMco listing nine challenges facing multi-academy trusts seeking to expand
  • Citizenship and Civic Engagement The House of Lords Committee reports on its inquiry into the matter calling among other things for the re-prioritizing of Citizenship education in schools
  • Responding to the Education Committee Ofqual issues a written response to some of the questions posed by the Committee, including using teachers as examiners and marking errors
  • Educational disadvantage: How does England compare? The Education Policy Institute finds young people one GCSE grade behind their peers in maths and ¾ of a GCSE grade behind in reading
  • Perceptions of A’ levels, GCSEs and other qualifications in England Ofqual publishes its latest annual survey of views reporting confidence levels remaining high though less so for young people 
  • Closing the word gap Oxford University Press publishes its research into the vocabulary levels of primary and secondary children in the UK finding it becoming increasingly limited
  • College financial intervention and support The government updates its guidance on the types of support available for all colleges including sixth form and the criteria for intervention
  • Students experiences with Open Days The Student Room network reports on its survey of student experiences of Open Days, finding most value them and many go to at least three before deciding 
  • Data protection toolkit for schools The DfE issues guidance and support resources for schools ahead of the incoming new General Data Protection Regulation 
  • Getting in and on in further and higher education The NUS reports on some of the extensive barriers faced by working class students seeking to progress through further and/or higher education
  • Main Estimate 2018/19 The DfE provides details on how its £87,065.1m managed budget will be deployed in the coming year
  • Vocational education and training The think tank Politeia argues that the UK has lost its way in vocational education and training when compared with systems in Germany and France
  • The teacher labour market The Education Policy Institute highlights some of the current concerns and implications, calling for pay supplements for early career teachers in shortage subjects
  • What will technical and professional education providers need to be successful? The Collab Group identifies 16 organisational capabilities such providers will need in the future
  • AI Sector Deal The government launches the Sector Deal for Artificial Intelligence outlining a range of funding and commitments intended to make the UK a global leader in this area

Speeches of the month

Quotes of the month

  • "What you’ve seen from the 1980s. particularly in this country, is far fewer people doing Saturday jobs and doing jobs after school” – the Work and Pensions Secretary bemoans the collapse of Saturday jobs
  • “What do the government believe the role of the new Office for Students should be: an independent regulator, a funding council, a validator of degrees or a body to micromanage universities?” – Labour asks questions about the role of the Office for Students 
  • “People needed, and still need, the second chance the OU provided” – David Blunkett adds his support for the Open University as it battles current difficulties
  • “Policy is made by graduates at Westminster and Whitehall who know nothing but the A’ levels and degree route they and their children took” – Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee challenges the lack of political weight behind the skills route in education
  • “By the end of the financial year we hope to have almost 400 standards approved for delivery” – Sir Gerry Berragan, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships sets his sights as the IfA reaches its first birthday
  • “FE colleges aren’t Cinderella –we’re more Mrs Bown’s boys” – Bedford College chief exec, Ian Pryce on colleges that bring joy and success to millions 
  • “We are encouraging centres to reflect on how they can best assure their students their phones will be safe and that students understand the risk of being found with a phone during an exam” – Ofqual on the perennial problem of detaching exam candidates from their mobile phones for the duration of an exam 
  • “You can have a brief conversation on Facebook during a math class and when you look up again, the blackboard is covered with symbols and numbers” – the OECD reports on the dangers of internet obsession by 15 year olds 
  • “There is no research evidence that four year olds can be reliably tested” – the Coalition of parents and teachers rounds on the new baseline assessments for reception

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘Poverty premium.’ What many disadvantaged students face in the form of costs for accommodation, travel, childcare, course fees and other costs that more advantaged students can often avoid

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.