In theory a quieter week with Parliament in recess and many schools and colleges on half-term but as usual it’s not quite worked out that way.
Let’s start with the big political news first where four education related developments stand out. First, it’s now been confirmed that the Budget will go ahead as planned on 11 March. Confirmation of this came in a tweet from the new Chancellor, pictured studiously at his new desk this week surrounded by Treasury papers. Levelling up of course remains the current catch phrase and schools and colleges in particular will be eagerly watching to see what benefits, if any, flow from this when it comes to funding.
Second, following last weekend’s Ministerial changes, a number of new Ministers, including those at the DfE, have also been settling in behind their new desks and scouring their in-trays. They, like the Chancellor, have not been short either of advice or interest. Nick Hillman’s tips for engaging with new Ministerial teams and David Hughes’s letter to the new FE/Skills Minister are both good examples.
Third, there’s been some fascinating economic data released this week with average wages and employment up but so too the number of self-employed and zero-hours contracts. Is the labour market changing? The Resolution Foundation has a useful review of it all while the CIPD/Adecco Group and the RSA have reports out this week on current and future work respectively. Plenty of super forecasting here.
And fourth, the government has now confirmed its policy on skills and immigration following the recent report from the Migration Advisory Committee. Broadly it intends to roll out a points-based system, with points accrued for things like level of English, skills and salary level and job offer, to cover all visa applicants, EU or non EU, from 1 January 2021. Further modifications such as improvements to the sponsorship system and further details on the points-based system are promised, but the government has clearly been keen to get across two messages: the opportunity to reassert control of our borders and the need for employers to step up and train staff in future. Reactions, it’s fair to say have been pretty mixed with the CBI concerned about bureaucracy, employer surcharges and what happens to the self-employed and the NUS worried about salary thresholds and negative vibes. The FT’s assessment of likely winners and losers under such a system provides an excellent summary.
Finally a reminder of some of the other important education stories this week. They include reports on access and admissions and strike action in HE, the Industrial Strategy and sector issues in FE, and pay, funding and CPD in schools, all listed below. So not such a quiet week after all.
- FE Week/AELP Westminster debate on SME apprenticeship funding (Tuesday)
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