Schools & Early Years

  • Education Secretary Justine Greening announced the approval of 77 new free schools, which she said would provide thousands of new free school places. Newly approved projects include a parent-led special school for children with autism and a secondary school launched by the rugby team Saracens.
  • The National Audit Office published a report on the resettlement of Syrian refugees, concluding that the future of the programme is under threat partly because of a lack of school places.
  • The Prisoners’ Education Trust called on ministers to progress reform of the youth justice system to improve education for those in custody. Their report made ten recommendations for improving education for children and young adults in secure institutions, including personalised learning plans.
  • Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who now leads the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, gave a speech at the UN in which he described funding education provision in the world’s poorest countries as ‘the civil rights struggle of our generation.’

Further education & skills

  • HMRC released a technical consultation, seeking comment on the first set of draft regulations for the apprenticeship levy. These draft regulations specify how the levy will be reported and confirm that the annual levy allowance will operate on a monthly cumulative basis, with the levy allowance increasing evenly throughout the year.
  • The British Chambers of Commerce conducted a survey of over 1,600 businesspeople across the UK and found that nearly 39 per cent of them had no understanding, or hadn’t heard of, the Apprenticeship Levy, despite it being implemented in six months’ time.
  • The National Apprenticeship Service announced that the 10th annual National Apprenticeship Week will be taking place from 6 to 10 March.
  • Prime Minister Theresa May reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to creating more apprenticeships, after being accused – during Prime Minister’s Questions – of considering cuts of between 30 and 50 per cent to apprenticeship funding.
  • A number of organisations representing the oil and gas sector, including Oil & Gas UK, called for the apprenticeship levy to be delayed by a year.
  • Keith Smith, who temporarily left his role as Director of Funding and Programmes at the Skills Funding Agency to join BIS as Director of their Levy Implementation, has returned to his position, following the recent Whitehall restructure.

Higher education

  • The Department for Education published participation rates in higher education for 2014/15, revealing that participation has risen, reaching 48 per cent in 2014/15, up from 42 per cent in 2006/07.
  • The Government published a policy paper setting out further information on Student Protection Plans, including details on the requirement for providers to support students to transfer to other higher education institutions.
  • The UCL President, Professor Michael Arthur, wrote a piece arguing that Britain should strike a deal with the EU to retain access to European higher education funds and facilitate the free movement of students and staff. Otherwise, he said, the UK should set up its own ‘internationalist’ funding system.
  • The OECD published the 2016 International Migration Outlook. The Guardian reported that this showed that the children of immigrants are more likely to go to university, with 58 per cent of those aged 25-44 with foreign-born parents in the UK doing so, against 46 per cent of those with parents born in this country.

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