Some big headlines this week but the main one for education concerns the government’s immediate spending plans. Details on these started to dribble out last weekend, were then brought together in a Statement to MPs on Tuesday by the Education Secretary, before being finally confirmed by the Chancellor in a rather unusual Spending Statement on Wednesday. Some details below.
Elsewhere for education, things have been busy around schools with a series of Papers and a consultation from government, a reminder from Ofsted of the new inspection arrangements and the first of a new annual series from Ofqual tracking price movement in the regulated qualification market. There’s also been an interesting report from the EDSK think tank on proposed reforms to the school system, making the point that we’ve reached a point when it might be better to bring academies and state schools together into a single system and focus energies and resources on a unified system instead.
Away from schools, JISC, the organisation that supports digital developments in further and higher education, published its latest report on how students experience digital learning. And talking of survey reports, the Chartered Management Institute reported on its poll of parents indicating growing support for apprenticeships but less awareness about T levels and the HE Policy Institute (HEPI) published its regular survey of the number of serving world leaders that had attended UK universities.
But back to the government’s spending announcements which at one time looked like being eclipsed by other events in Westminster. As the Chancellor himself admitted, it was an unusual event not just because of the background political scene but also because of the speed with which it had been put together without the use of such norms as the Office for Budget Responsibility economic assessment.
There’s been a lot of excellent coverage of the plans notably from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Resolution Foundation and the details of the extra money for schools and 16-19 have been widely reported so what stands out? Arguably five things. First that in many ways, the event marked a new phase in economic planning, ending austerity and resetting a new economic plan for a (post-Brexit) future. Second, if this is the start of future planning what about the bits that were missing like apprenticeships, adult learning and HE; will they be part of the next round of plans in the form of the Budget and Spending Review? Third, it’s interesting which bits, such as schools, now have 3-year budgets and which, such as 16-19, don’t. Fourth, the extra money for education while welcome won’t reverse years of cuts and fifth, as commentators have all pointed out, there’s still a lot of ifs and buts around the future of the economy.