No standout headline this week but plenty of potential game changers to note all the same.
On the political front, Ministerial responsibilities for the DfE and Committee members for the Education Committee have been listed while two heavy weights have weighed in with their thoughts on the Budget now just over a week away. They include the Resolution Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies each of which has usefully summarised the context facing the Chancellor. Both talk of tough choices but also options. The sense remains that the big decisions will come later, probably with the Spending Review but the potential for some change around fiscal rules at least remains.
For higher education, the Office for Students (OfS) consultation on options for reform to the admissions system offers the potential for change here. The consultation puts forward three possible options: keeping with the current system but with modifications and two forms of PQA, where either offers or applications happen after exam results are known. They’re not the only ones getting to grips with admissions reform, Universities UK and UCAS are both hard at it as well. As for the OfS, they intend to report back this autumn. While on HE, which continues to go through a period of introspection, two other reports out this week have added their thoughts on both the current and future context for the sector. The think tank Policy Exchange suggests HE is at a crossroads while the HE Policy Institute has published an interesting assessment of the sector by some leading thinkers offering a more promising route map.
For FE and skills, is the apprenticeship levy in for a change? The Education Secretary has ‘ordered’ or ‘demanded’ depending which version you read, a review of the use of apprenticeship levy funds for top management qualifications such as MBAs, as the Institute for Apprenticeships reported on its review into apprenticeship training costs and launched consultation on reform of some funding bands. It’ll be interesting to see if the Chancellor has much to say about apprenticeship funding in the Budget but given feedback on the review of funding higher level training won’t happen until June, it may be too early.
While for schools, the Education Endowment Foundation’s review into the virtues or otherwise of an extended Key Stage 4, continuing debate about the inspection system let alone the new reception baseline assessment due in from this September, all offer the prospect of further developments if not longer-term change here.
Finally, thank you for responding to our recent consultation on Policy Watch. Please note our comments about the future of Policy Watch at the bottom of this week’s briefing.
- Education Questions to Ministers (Monday)
- Launch of Skills Commission report on ‘The Future of the Skills system.’ (Monday)
- FE Week Annual Apprenticeship Conference (Monday, Tuesday)
Thank you also to everyone who responded to the recent survey and we are grateful for all of your feedback. Policy Watch will be taking a break for the next few weeks while we look at how we can continue to improve and update the newsletter. Watch this space for more on Policy Watch.