Parliament may have been stood down but the world of education is as busy as ever.
The week’s big announcements first where two stand out. First, the announcement from the Prime Minister that the government intends to inject new momentum into the Free School movement. It came as the DfE launched its latest wave of applications, looking to create a further 30 ‘in areas with the lowest educational standards.’ It’s something that the PM had pledged during the leadership contest as he explained perched rather awkwardly on a classroom chair in a visit to a local primary school later to explain the details.
The second announcement was about the government’s intention to extend the visa for international graduates from four months to two years. It’s a move welcomed by many, the Russell Group for instance called it ‘fantastic,’ not least because of the more welcoming tone it implies at a time when student skills and recruitment are likely to be in demand.
Next this week’s reports which have covered international education systems, exam malpractice, special needs support, an alternative to GCSE English Language, pupil behaviour and reflections on the recent cycle of FE area wide reviews. They contain a lot of important detail so here’s just a few pointers.
The report on international education systems is the OECD’s annual extensive trawl of how different member countries’ education systems are performing. The HE Policy Institute which hosted this year’s report launch has a helpful summary of the key points for the UK which suggests we fund education quite highly especially at primary, have younger teachers and provide well in early years and higher education. As ever, it’s a comprehensive glance and worth looking at the section on the UK.
Next and on home turf, exam malpractice and a report from an independent Commission looking into this over the last year. The report came up with a lot of recommendations including notably a blanket ban on taking watches into exam rooms but acknowledged that the system is working well overall and that this is about sensible precautions. Talking of exams, this week also saw the report from ASCL’s Commission on ‘the forgotten third,’ the 30%+ who fall short in GCSE English and end up taking endless resits, recommending an alternative type of exam altogether, more practical in nature.
Finally, briefly three Ministerial statements. One concerned changed Ministerial responsibilities at the DfE and two, made before Parliament disassembled, confirmed recent announcements on funding and the special needs review. Any confirmation of things welcome these days.