No standout headline but plenty to catch up on in the world of education this week.
In Westminster, MPs used one of the last occasions in this session to question Education Ministers, with funding, Augar, assessment and special needs prominent among the issues raised. A couple of days later the Education Secretary appeared before the Education Committee in what one commentator described as a ‘rather strained’ session where many similar issues were raised and where the headline news was an admission that the apprenticeship target was likely to be missed.
In what’s been a busy week for the DfE, it has issued important statutory guidance on Relationship Education in schools which early adopter schools will be running with this year before it becomes compulsory the year after, and published non-statutory guidance on teaching pupils about online safety.
And before we leave the Westminster arena, three other stories to note. First, the DfE has released its latest dept plan offering a useful outline of progress and priorities. Second, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee has raised concerns about some aspects of DfE activity such as academy oversight or lack of and third, the Home Secretary has called on the Migration Advisory Committee to look into salary thresholds for immigrant workers which many have argued are too high for some sectors.
Away from Westminster, the season of Festivals and Conferences has continued. Many in HE have been at the annual Festival of HE hosted by the University of Buckingham where Augar, universities and learning of the future, and student welfare have been among the issues under discussion. Training providers meanwhile have been participating in their annual Conference while College leaders have come together to call on the government to honour the Augar proposals on investment in training and skills.
Elsewhere this week, there’ve been a number of notable reports released, four for instance around skills and training and one on ESOL all listed below, but one report, the latest snapshot of what it called ‘Elitist Britain 2019,’ has seized many of the headlines.
The report, an update on things five years ago, brought together the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission to examine the educational background of leading people in nine occupational areas ranging from politics and business to women and sport. As the Commission noted in its Nation report, things haven’t changed a great deal with most top people likely to have attended a fee-paying school. Three of its ten recommendations involve education, a reminder of the key role education plays in social mobility.