Schools & Early Years

  • The Government formally dropped the Education For All Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech. The legislation suggested that all schools in England convert to academies. In a Written Ministerial Statement issued by Education Secretary Justine Greening MP, she stated that schools should convert to academies voluntarily.’
  • Schools Week reported that Schools Minister Lord Nash has confirmed that pupils’ nationality and country of birth data will not be included in the national pupil database following criticism from schools and parents.
  • The DfE is advertising for a new Ofsted chair after David Hoare resigned following criticism for making controversial comments to teachers about the Isle of Wight. Applicants will be paid up to £46,800 a year for two days’ work a week.
  • ResPublica published a report calling for future grammar schools to target the most disadvantaged areas, such as where there are no existing local schools rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. ResPublica Director, Phillip Blond, said re-introducing grammar schools was ‘potentially a transformative idea for working class areas where there are little or no middle classes to game the admission system’.
  • Former Education Secretary Michael Gove MP backtracked on his opposition to the plan to create new grammar schools.
  • Journalist and commentator Toby Young was appointed head of the New Schools Network, the Government-funded charity to promote free schools in England.

Further education & skills

    • The Technical and Further Education Bill 2016-17 was introduced to the Commons. The Bill will build on measures in the Government’s Post-16 Skills Plan, and will:
      • Include proposals to extend the role of the Institute for Apprenticeships to cover technical education
      • Introduce a new insolvency regime for colleges to protect learners
      • Introduce a new measure to require colleges and local authorities to continue to share data on results
  • FE Week reported that Lord Sugar is considering quitting his role as apprenticeships champion after receiving no contact from Government officials after six months in the job. His spokesperson commented that, since Brexit, ‘this role seems to have taken a low priority with the various Government officials’.
  • The Government published further guidance on the apprenticeship levy. In a change of approach, funds will now have 24 months until they expire in an employer’s digital account, employers will be given an extra 20 per cent of funding to train 16 to 18 year olds, and the Government will look into introducing the ability for employers to transfer their digital funds (initially 10 per cent) to other employers in their supply chain. They also published guidance on how employers will be affected by the levy, a policy paper for training providers, research into the cost of recruiting 16-18 year old apprentices, and an equality impact analysis.
  • Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon MP announced that Paul Morrell, the former government construction adviser, will advise a review of industrial training boards.
  • The Sixth Form Colleges Association published their annual survey, covering 80 of the 90 sixth form colleges in England, finding that two-thirds of colleges have had to drop A Level courses due to funding constraints. The SFCA noted that the sector has experienced three funding cuts since 2011 and also contends with rising costs in increased employer contributions to pensions and national insurance schemes.
  • FE Week reported on FE Commissioner Sir David Collins’ appearance in front of the Education Select Committee on the post-16 area reviews. Collins said that a post-16 review of sixth forms outside of the FE sector would be ‘very helpful,’ however, Collins stressed this would not be possible within the current process.
  • The TES covered a report backed by senior sector figures urging the Government to rethink the policy requiring learners to have a grade C in and English and maths.

Higher education

  • UCAS released its first statistical release of the 2017 undergraduate cycle, detailing applicant numbers for higher education courses with an early October deadline. The research showed that applications from EU students have fallen by nine per cent this year, although UK applications were up.
  • The THE reported on comments made by HEFCE Chief Executive Madeline Atkins. Atkins warned that there are cases of UK university jobs failing to attract interest from Europe and of researchers turning down posts due to Brexit uncertainty. Atkins added that another big issue ‘is which parts of the European research funding infrastructure would we want to buy into, if any, as a part of the negotiating stance for Brexit’.
  • Universities UK Deputy Chief Executive Alistair Jarvis wrote a comment piece in The Telegraph, asserting that the voice of universities must be heard in the political debate on Brexit, but calling on the HE sector to accept the result of the referendum.
  • Paul Ashwin, Professor of Higher Education at Lancaster University, wrote a comment piece in The Guardian, analysing how to design a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) that will be able to effectively measure and improve the quality of learning and teaching across the higher education system.

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