Back to work and for education, plenty to catch up on let alone look out for in the coming weeks.
Let’s start with what’s been happening in the first week or so of 2020. Along with the traditional New Year rallying call from the Prime Minister (“I want to make this country the best place on earth when it comes to quality education,”) passion from the Education Secretary (“I care passionately about what the DfE does,”) Budget date announcement from the Chancellor (March 11,) and eclectic blog on machinery of government changes from the PM’s chief adviser, (“we want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds,”) the new year has kicked off with a stream of reports and announcements.
The announcements have included consultation on inspecting exempt schools and colleges, invites for the next wave of T level provision, a foray into the use of AI in exam marking, the promise of £85m for music and creative arts, and two interesting appointments: Hillary Clinton as the new Chancellor of Queen’s University, Belfast, and Emma Hardy MP as the new Shadow Minister for FE and HE.
As for reports, there’s been plenty including: one from Ofsted on the challenges facing ‘stuck’ schools, a new report from the EDSK think tank on the apprenticeship levy, an interesting examination on the HEPI website of languages provision, a set of future-proof principles from the AELP on Skills Accounts and two reports from the Education Policy Institute, one on wellbeing in the workforce and the other on young people’s access to mental health services. As ever, a varied but important range of issues.
Ofsted’s report is particularly pertinent and adds further credence to its efforts to be seen as ‘a force for improvement.’ There are some 415 ‘stuck’ schools, split pretty evenly between primary and secondary and so-called because they’ve failed to improve over the last 13 years of inspections. Some schools with the right support, policies and focus, have managed to pick up and Ofsted is calling for government funds so that it can do more to help.
And so on to some traditional new year future gazing given added spice with the confluence of a new government at the start of a new decade. On the economy, the FT reported that its annual survey of economists saw over 30% predicting that UK productivity will remain low and GDP growth static in 2020. Scientists, in another survey, are looking to a decade of major breakthroughs notably in AI, space and medicine while anyone looking for a panoramic perspective on the year ahead could do worse than look at the ten crucial questions from the New Statesman on the world for 2020. They include whether the wave of global protests will continue and whether Trump will be re-elected. Quite a year beckons.