Tech developments, higher education and qualification choice for 16 year olds head the main education stories this week.
Tech developments first where this week’s London Tech Week, launched by the Prime Minister at the start of the week, spawned a range of associated speeches, reports and activities. The PM was anxious to demonstrate that as she put it, ‘British tech is thriving’ with increased investment both from at home and abroad and she reeled off a string of initiatives including more funding for adult online learning, new places and funding for AI and data masters conversion courses, and the creation of a new Digital Markets Unit, as evidence of this. The Industrial Strategy continues to provide the circuit map for developments.
AI (artificial intelligence) has been one of the big themes of the week. According to a Kantar survey, 63% of people reckon they now know something about AI and 12% quite a lot, and it has featured in two important accompanying reports this week. One was from the McKinsey Global Institute with an upbeat message that the UK was in a stronger starting position than much of Europe albeit with the need to develop its talent stream and learn how to scale up more efficiently. The other was a commissioned report from the DfE looking at the online learning and AI education market arguing that the potential for AI products and provision has yet to be fully realized.
Higher ed next where two developments stand out. First the Education Secretary bundled up his recent incursions on matters like grade inflation and unconditional offers into an additional remit letter to the Office for Students, noting in particular their plans to conduct a review of the admissions process later this year and to quality assess L6+ apprenticeships.
Second, the HE Policy Institute and AdvanceHE published the latest in their annual surveys into the academic experience of students. Some of the issues such as value for money and contact time are long-standing, others such as mental health concerns and accelerated degrees are more recent. Either way, a fascinating and largely positive picture, in contrast to some recent headlines, emerges.
Third, qualification choices for 16 year olds and above where government consultation on qualification choices at Level 3 and below closed at the start of the week. The government is keen to see a simpler, set of routes focused on A’ levels and T levels, but as responses have indicated, many young people at this stage are often better served by a middle route that includes the current vocational options. The BBC’s Education Editor, Branwen Jeffreys, has a good summary of the issues here.