It’s been quite a week.
The exams season including SATs got under way, major events from Love Our Colleges Week to National Numeracy Day showcased, Ofsted reported on its revised inspection framework, the Education Policy Institute published a new report on 16-19 funding and the AoC published a report of its own on funding, the government announced its plans for piloting Reception Baseline Assessment this September, the Universities Minister explained why UKHE would remain open for business Brexit or no, and the Association of Colleges launched a new Mental Health and Wellbeing charter as part of Mental Health Awareness Week
Quite a list so here’s some detail on three of those starting with the revised Ofsted inspection framework.
Consultation on this which attracted a huge response closed last month and this week Ofsted set out how things now stand. In truth, not a lot has changed from the original proposals. The unpopular on-site preparation proposals have gone in favour of a 90-minute phone call, the EBacc has been played down a little, high needs has been added to the list of reported areas for FE, and institutions will get more time to modify their curriculum, before the ‘intent’ behind the quality of education is scrutinised. As the Chief Inspector put it, hopefully the dreaded Ofsted call will not now seem so dreaded.
There are of course still concerns, such as whether Ofsted will have the resources and capacity to carry out detailed dives into the curriculum. And the 4-point grading scale, which rankles with some, remains. But many feel that the focus on the quality of education is a step in the right direction and like the deputy editor of the TES, are prepared to suspend reservations. The new system kicks in from this September.
Next 16-19 funding and an important report, commissioned by Pearson, from the Education Policy Institute (EPI.) It’s one of a series of reports the EPI is producing ahead of the possible Spending Review and is important for three reasons. Firstly, because it focuses on an overlooked stage of learning yet one critical to life chances for many young people. Second, because funding here has been squeezed more tightly than elsewhere, down 16% on a per student basis since 2010 according to the EPI. And third because the effect of all this has meant that choices and opportunities have been restricted just when they’re needed most.
Third, the Universities Minister’s speech at this week’s ‘Going Global’ conference, a key moment for setting out UK thinking on HE life beyond Brexit and where the Minister outlined his vision based on four principles. These included strengthening the UK’s role on the global stage, supporting global partnerships, helping UK students to engage globally and keeping the door open for international students. A hopeful vision at last.