Birmingham seems to have been the place to be this week with both the annual Colleges’ Conference and the Schools and Academies Show taking place at respective venues there and attracting a host of leading commentators and in some cases Ministers to navigate the transport system and offer their thoughts.
As for education generally, we’re moving into the busy pre-Christmas schedule. It’s a schedule this week that has seen the government publish its response to its consultation on 2-year degrees confirming that it intends to move ahead on the idea given Parliamentary approval on fees. The HE Policy Institute has published an important report on where student fees really end up, Ofsted has released a useful report on that unsung area: Level 2 provision, Ofqual has released more data on the summer exams along with a report on inter-subject comparability among some A’ level subjects, TeachFirst has published a new strategic plan and the Education Secretary issued the remit letter for the Pay Review Board for teachers’ pay for 2019 with apparently a further remit letter to follow.
Further afield, as Brexit developments trundle on, the employer’s organisation, the CBI held its Annual Conference which was addressed by both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition and where skill needs were much in contention. The government reported on its consultation on setting up a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, Parliamentary Committee Inquiries took in special educational needs, Academy accounts, the Careers and Enterprise Co, the sale of student loans, and intergenerational fairness. And finally, the National Audit Office produced a useful summary report, stuffed with facts and figures, on the work of the DfE while the Children’s Commissioner has reported on service provision for children with mental health needs, also lots of facts and figures, some quite dispiriting.
A lot to catch up on therefore but this week’s mention goes to FE, not often in the limelight but where the annual Colleges’ Conference is often an important gathering point for reflections on this key sector.
Affection, and in most cases respect, runs deep for colleges, the Shadow Education Secretary for instance kickstarted her career through a college course. Their work maybe unsung but it touches people of all backgrounds in a way that few other services do and yet as a rather hurried Skills Minister explained, love is not all you need, you also need strong standing and robust reputations. Fortunately, funding apart, there have been many positive noises around such things for FE this week. Some have come from the reports published by the DfE during the week such as that from the FE Commissioner and some from platform speeches such as that from the Chief Inspector but arguably the vision set out by the AoC Chief Executive, a combination of pragmatism and passion, has set the right tone for the sector for the future. It’s now down to the Spending Review to add the all-important funding to be able to deliver it.