Hardly a quiet start to the summer holidays but then it’s not often that two new Party leaders are announced in the same week including one of course as Prime Minister bringing sweeping changes to government including to the Education Dept. More on this in a minute.
As for education itself, the week has seen more tidying up of details and data and as usual a number of reports including on teachers’ pay, the university admissions system, apprenticeships and teacher wellbeing. Some details on these first.
The teachers’ pay award was announced as one of a number of public sector pay awards at the start of the week. Theresa May had been said to be keen to pump a fair bit on money into education before she left, £27bn possibly, but the outgoing Chancellor apparently called for caution. In the event, teachers were granted a 2.75% pay rise but with the lion’s share of 2% to come from exiting budgets leaving the profession unimpressed as well as irritated that it was announced as schools were breaking up. In a week in which Ofsted highlighted the stress and workloads that many teachers were working under, the Review Board’s acknowledgement that teachers’ pay had fallen behind offered little comfort..
Another issue bubbling around education this week has been university admissions where ahead of a review by the Office for Students later this year, Universities UK announced it was conducting its own review with PQA (post qualification admissions) high up the agenda. Secondly the HE Policy Institute published the results of a useful survey among current students about contextual admissions. Most welcomed it though with mixed views about making lower grade offers to those from deprived areas.
And so on to the government changes, still emerging in some cases.
The new education team has been ritually welcomed but with the added caveat that the issue on top of the in-tray is funding, or rather a lack of; school, college and university leaders have all pointed to this. Here for instance is the general secretary of ASCL on the matter: “the government has ducked this issue for too long and its negligence in this regard has brought the education system to its knees.”
Other education issues in that in-tray include: teacher recruitment; relationships education; system accountability; post-16 options and T levels; post-18 funding; visas. A proposed detailed education agenda can be found in Policy Exchange’s recent report with its Foreword by Nick Gibb while the CBI’s business manifesto for a new PM includes many education and skill priorities.