A lot to take in this week and still coming, with the Education Secretary due to speak this afternoon at the National Association of Head Teachers’ (NAHT) Conference.
As for the week in general, in no particular order we’ve had a fairly bleak prognosis on social mobility in the latest Commission report, the first of what’s intended to be a series of funding Papers from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) ahead of the Spending Review, looking on this occasion at post-18 funding with 16-19 and schools to follow, the latest session of education questions to DfE Ministers with issues of funding, school exclusions and international students all prominent, an Education Committee session on school system accountability, and a sprinkling of Ministerial speeches.
Throw in a new Business Plan and briefing on university admissions from the Office for Students, a heated debate about the charging of EU students post-Brexit, some interesting reflections on the latest apprenticeship figures, a weighty research report from Ofqual and Oxford’s Centre for Educational Assessment on linear v modular GCSEs, a stout defence from Ofsted of its 4-scale grading system for inspections, and a new report on work experience and you can see why there’s such a lot to take in.
Here’s a few pointers to help see the wood from the trees, starting with the Social Mobility report.
One sentence pretty much captures the essence of the latest Social Mobility Commission report and it’s this; ‘being born privileged still means you usually remain privileged.’ Things in other words have hardly improved over recent years and the new look Commission team look particularly to education to help generate some momentum. There’s criticism of some education reforms, Key Stage tests rushed in for instance, but also welcome recognition that 16-19 learners and apprenticeships need a better deal.
Next EPI’s report, an important assessment of the issues said to have been under discussion as part of the long awaited post – 18 review report. Many of the rumoured proposals from variable fees to tariff limits, let alone fee cuts altogether would, the report argues, prove regressive. Instead the focus should be on targeted support including notably maintenance loans for those taking their first full L3 qualification.
Finally those Ofqual and Ofsted reports. Ofqual’s is a detailed study of the impact of modular v linear GCSE exams, a core component of the Gove reforms. The report is reassuring in the sense that neither structure appears to affect disadvantaged students or boys and girls disproportionately. Caveats apart on exam burdens, the report concludes that ‘linear are more suitable at GCSE than modular.’ As for inspection grades, Ofsted recognises but rebuts criticisms and will keep things as they are, for now.