No Policy Watch last week so two weeks of news to catch up on.
Last week first, where four questions, which collectively seem to be shaping educational priorities for 2019, stand out. They include first, what sort of learning/curriculum young people need for the 21st c, raised in Rob Halfon’s ‘Bakers not Butchers’ speech at the Edge Foundation which questioned among other things the continued need for GCSEs. The speech has had some follow-up but in fairness was intended to trigger extended debate on a topic that regularly resurfaces. Second, what kind of higher education system we want, market driven, competitive or according to an important report last week, community based. ‘Place’ remains an important concept in education provision and has been recognised as such by the number of universities prepared to sign Civic Agreements. The report can be found here.
Third, what level of investment is needed for public services such as education in the future? We already know what has been lined up for the NHS, other areas like education have to await the outcomes of this year’s Spending Review. There’s pressure across the education system for increased investment especially in the college sector as their letter to the Chancellor indicated. Last week’s briefing Paper available here, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies provides a useful scene setter on the Spending Review. And fourth, how best to manage information flows and social media access for young people where last week’s Cairncross Review offered some thoughts. Ministers are in Silicon Valley this week discussing regulation.
And so to this week where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn outlined plans for what he called ‘an active industrial strategy’ with planned investment in infrastructure, support for skills development and a Commission on lifelong learning. Also this week, the Shadow Education Secretary outlined her thoughts on reforming the higher education system, the HE Policy Institute reported on tuition fee policies over the years, the BBC wondered if universities would go bust if fees were cut and the National Union of Students reported on the dire living conditions faced by many students in privately rented accommodation: ’18 days with no hot water,’ according to one.
In FE and skills, the Association of Colleges called for an increase in the funding rate for T levels, the Centre for Social Justice outlined proposals for a National Training Scheme while the manufacturer’s organisation, the EEF, re-branded itself as Make UK. Finally for schools, many of which have been on half term this week, the government announced support for some free early learning apps, the unions kept up the pressure on teacher’s pay and MPs reported on closing the regional attainment gap.