It’s been back to the grind for most people this week with plenty to catch up on and, if the forecasters are correct, plenty more to come. ‘Goodness knows what will happen in 2019,’ mused Institute for Fiscal Studies director Paul Johnson in a comment piece in The Times earlier in the week, perhaps capturing the mood for many. Either way, a lot has happened already, with education as ever in the forefront.
The New Year began with a big sweep of domestic policy announcements from across government covering the NHS, Universal Credit, transport, housing and training for social workers as the PM promised ‘the start of a new chapter for Britain’ in her New Year message. Captain of industry were a little more phlegmatic in their annual Ipsos Mori ‘looking ahead to 2019’ poll; ¾ ticking the pessimistic box although over 90% reckoned their businesses could adapt to whatever happens.
As for education, it’s been another typically busy start of the year with the Commons Education Committee particularly active this week hosting sessions on the 4th Industrial Revolution and the National Retraining Scheme respectively and lining up the Education Secretary for a session next week.
For higher education, the government published its response to the Education Committee’s earlier Inquiry into Value for Money in HE, the think tank Onward and HEPI published new reports, HE leaders issued a stark warning about the damage a no deal Brexit could cause the sector and Wonkhe contributors flew a few kites about what might, or perhaps should, happen in higher education this year.
In skills news, MPs held a Westminster Hall debate about apprenticeships and skills policy, the IPPR think tank reported on how the Baker clause was working or not one year on, the ESFA confirmed the launch of a new levy survey, and Ofsted blogged about its monitoring visits for new apprenticeship providers.
Finally for schools, concerns this week were raised about school funding and teacher CPD funding, a new MFL Centre for Excellence was announced and a report on early childhood reading published. And from the week before, the DfE launched its so-called Active Passport, listing various enrichment activities primary school children might want to indulge in, from building a den to learning to knit.
A busy start to the New Year therefore and more to come with the consultation on Ofsted’s proposed new inspection framework due out next week, confirmation of 2018/19 funding settlements scheduled for the next few weeks, important reports on skills, T levels, alternative provision in schools, L4/5 and the financing of post-18 provision coming, and that big Brexit debate looming. Goodness knows what will happen in 2019.