One of those weeks, back to the grind with little to excite, policy-wise at least.
It’s been busy at least in Parliament where MPs held a lengthy debate on education as part of the follow-up to the Queen’s Speech. The Education Secretary, who opened the debate, ran through many of the current issues including minimum funding levels, school standards, future skills and the Erasmus + international exchange scheme, suggesting that the government ‘was poised to shape a new Britain’ although Angela Rayner for the Opposition felt a lot ‘was missing in action.’ What was positive, however, was the number of new MPs keen to participate.
MPs have a further chance to get their teeth into education on Monday when DfE Ministers respond to Questions. Among the 25 questions listed are six on funding, including for FE, four on special needs, with a sprinkling of others on school places, disadvantaged children, international participation post-Brexit, and where we are on the introduction of T levels. So far this year therefore, so standard.
Three other interesting snippets before we leave the Parliamentary portals. First, Boris Johnson is setting up a cross-Whitehall taskforce, which he will chair, to tackle youth gangs and knife crime. Second, the PM confirmed in an answer during PM’s Questions that an announcement on reform of the apprenticeship levy would be made soon. And third, the Bill providing for schools to promote the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils has been brought back to begin its passage through Parliament.
Away from Westminster, in higher education this week, Oxford University reported a record increase in the number of offers for undergraduate places made to British state school students as the next big milestone in this year’s UCAS application cycle was reached. UCAS’s final reports on the 2019 admissions cycle are due out at the end of this month with some early data on this year’s a week later.
In FE/Skills, it’s been GCSE English and maths resit results week, a mixed picture and still an issue for many, while reports on apprenticeship pay levels and local skill mismatches have captured headlines.
For schools, ahead of its Annual Report next week, Ofsted had an interesting piece on its current and future research activity including the return of its subject reviews. In other news, the Education Policy Institute reported on trends in teacher numbers and salaries, the National Association of Head Teachers questioned schools admissions arrangements as deadline day for choosing primary places arrived while UK performance in developing those famed wider skills slipped in the latest published Index.