It’s been a case of education in the round this week with education and skills viewed from all sides: as a global force, a tool for technology, a driver of skills and employment including as a measure of school performance and as a funded service, or not. Here’s a few headlines from each.
First as a global force where the importance of education featured heavily in the Education Secretary’s speech at the opening of this week’s World Education Forum. It has also been an important talking point in a series of top line Papers this week including PwC’s annual global CEO’s survey, the Davos Global Risks Report and the latest OECD education and skills Papers. The issue at stake is understanding the risks and challenges in a changing world and how far education and skills is equipped to help not just today’s leaders like global Chief Execs but future leaders, with the skills and knowledge they need. Such challenges are well set out in OECD’s latest ‘Trends Shaping Education 2019’ Report, and range from climate change, to changing lifestyles and population shifts. It’s a fascinating read.
Second education as a tool for technology, evident in all its glory in this year’s annual BETT event. Full coverage of this ongoing event can be found on the BETT website but many will be interested in the government’s promise of a new EdTech strategy due for later this year.
Third, education as a driver of skills and employment where apart from the revised 2018 performance tables, we have three useful reports this week, each covering a separate phase of education. Working up age-wise, Teach First and the Education and Employers charity published proposals for developing career-related learning in primary schools, UK colleges launched a new set of proposals to help the four nations with the skills and training needed post-Brexit, and High Fliers Research reported on a more buoyant graduate market among top employers. Each offered a set of positive outcomes in contrast to the current political discussions, with the Colleges’ proposal for a Commission to examine the nature of FE in the future, looking particularly interesting.
And fourth, education as a recipient or perhaps victim of funding where two developments stand out. First, a report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee highlighting some concerns over the transparency and accountability of Academy accounts and calling for Ofsted be given a reporting role. And second an MPs’ debate on college funding, well-attended and supportive albeit without formal conclusions.
Finally in a busy week, have we seen a new metaphor creep in from the Chair of the Education Committee? In the debate on college funding, he referred to colleges as ‘economic trampolines.’ Move over ‘ladder of opportunity.’