An end of term feel this week as many schools and colleges prepare to wind down for the summer and MPs prepare for the summer recess and the impact of a new PM.
Let’s start with education matters first where it wouldn’t be an end of term without a series of late notices from government. Most of these were directed at schools and included some nitty-gritty stuff on school system financial accountability, school attendance, data collection workloads, new teacher skill tests, school improvement and school sports activity. More specifically, the Education Committee published the results of its year-long Inquiry into education funding, sharply rebuking the government for its diffident approach and calling for substantial investment as part of a 10-year funding plan.
Away from schools the big news for the skill sector has been the launch, at last, of the long-awaited National Retraining Scheme, starting small scale with a ‘Help to Retrain’ programme in Liverpool but with important long-term potential as automation gradually bites away at the employment market. The week has also seen two more apprenticeship reports, one from the Institute of Student Employers with proposals for improving the apprenticeships system generally and the other from Universities UK calling for a big heave on degree apprenticeships. Elsewhere, FETL (the Further Education Trust for Leadership) tackled another familiar topic, the impact of technology on learning, as part of its Summer Symposium.
In higher education we’ve had the first major detailed study into the career outcomes of international students who’d studied in UK universities, only a snapshot at this stage but overall very positive with for example over 80% happy with their experience and careers so far. Elsewhere, the Universities Minister talked about universities and colleges as ‘beacons of inclusivity’ in what seemed like a valedictory speech, ‘this may well be my last higher education speech as Universities Minister,’ at Birkbeck College.
Finally on to that other theme of the week, the impending arrival of a new Prime Minister and with it obvious anticipation as to how policies will shape up in the future. When it comes to education, Rob Halfon, Chair of the Education Committee, became the latest to add his thoughts in a comment piece on conservative home, arguing for an education agenda built around 4 Ss: skills, social justice, standards, and support for the profession. ‘Four interlocking foundations for an education programme’ in his words.
Education and skills have featured prominently throughout the leadership debates and there will be much interest in seeing whether school funding, skills reform, student financing, and visa reforms among other things get the support and attention they deserve in the coming weeks and months. Many will be hoping.