Policy Tracker – Keeping track of what happened in the world of education in October 2018

Policy Tracker

The month kicked off with the Conservative Party Conference and ended with the Budget so there’s been plenty of political reports and speeches to take in. Elsewhere this month, schools and colleges have campaigned for extra funds, the DfE published initial performance data on this summer’s exams, Ofsted provided more details on its proposed new inspection framework, World Mental Health Day generated a flurry of reports, and some reforms to apprenticeships were confirmed.

Key headlines from the month

  • DfE stats. The UK Stats Authority takes the DfE to task over some of its claims
  • Budget. The Chancellor provides schools a little more money for extras
  • English GCSE. The ASCL hosts new Commission looking into attainment at the lower end
  • 2018 exams. The DfE publishes provisional performance data
  • Behaviour. The Education Secretary pledges £10m for training and support
  • Alternative Provision. The Government issues a number of reports
  • Inspections. Ofsted lays out the principles behind the proposed new framework
  • English hubs. The Government announces best practice hubs for primary literacy
  • Youth Performance Partnerships. The Government announces five to help boost performing arts
  • Careers. The Education Secretary extends the number of networks
  • Mental health. World Mental Health Day provokes a number of reports and surveys
  • Apprenticeships. The Chancellor announces reforms in his Conference and Budget speeches 
  • Apprenticeship starts. July 2018 starts up on July 2017 but down on July 2016
  • Maths. The Government announces new FE centres of excellence
  • T levels. The Education Secretary promises £38m to help with resources for first wave
  • T level teacher training. The DfE announces the first providers to offer funded training 
  • TEF. The Government responds to earlier consultation on subject level outcomes
  • Artificial Intelligence. New ‘ethical’ Institute launched for use of AI in education
  • HE. The Government claims to get tough on grade inflation
  • Uni entry. UCAS applications for courses with mid Oct deadline up 7%
  • Social Mobility. New commissioners announced ahead of formal launch

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


Speeches of the month

  • Shaun Fenton’s 1 October HMC Chair’s speech spells out the key role the independent sector plays both at home and abroad, including increasingly for disadvantaged pupils 
  • The Chancellor’s 1 October Conference speech outlines a number of measures to help support education and training to ensure the UK market economy remains strong for future generations 
  • The Education Secretary’s 2 October Conference speech focuses on funding for T levels, English/maths centres of excellence, school sport and tackling poor behaviour
  • The Prime Minister’s 3 October Conference speech says little on education but raises the prospect of an end to austerity 
  • The Secretary of State’s 9 October Creative Industries Federation Summit speech highlights the importance of the Creative Industries Sector Deal and for collaboration to continue post-Brexit 
  • Amanda Spielman’s 11 0ctober NorthEast Summit speech outlines the thinking and timescale behind the proposed new inspection framework 
  • The Education Secretary’s 11 0ctober Confederation of School Trusts speech highlights the importance of school autonomy and confirms forthcoming consultation on school accountability
  • The Chancellor’s 29 October Budget speech provides some giveaways for personal allowances, defence, Universal Credit, even potholes but has little to offer education generally

Quotes of the month

  • “The British people need to know that the end is in sight” – the Prime Minister heralds the ending of austerity in her Conference speech
  • “Austerity is coming to an end but discipline will remain” – the Chancellor puts austerity in context in his Budget speech
  • “I regret that the Dept does not yet appear to have resolved issues with its use of statistics” – the UK Statistics Authority tackles the DfE about some of its claims 
  • “Going to university is meant to be an assault on the senses” – the HE Minister on the importance of allowing different opinions on campus
  • “In the year that colleges last received an increase in their base rate funding for adult education, the iPad was launched, the first leaders’ debate was televised and Ann Widdecombe danced the paso doble on Strictly” – Robert Halfon and Lucy Powell join forces to put college funding in perspective 
  • “It’s time to get tough on sub-contractors” – the Education Committee includes some tough talking in its report on apprenticeships 
  • “I want to make sure that at Ofsted we focus on the ‘how’ and the ‘what:’ the essence of what performance tables cannot capture” – Amanda Spielman, Ofsted Chief Inspector, outlines the thinking behind the proposed new inspection framework 
  • “Just to be clear: schools are not obliged to set homework and some don’t. But when schools do set homework, children need to do it” – the Education Secretary sets out the position on homework
  • “Spending on books has been boosted by parents of under-twos with the average spend among this group increasing by £1 to £7 a month” – Childwise reports on book buying for toddlers

Word or phrase of the month

  • ‘The Matthew effect.’ A social phenomenon, observable in education as in other areas of life, in which those who have, tend to get more and by implication, those with less, tend to end up with less