Schools & Early Years

  • The Education Policy Institute (EPI) published a study modelling the impact of Government plans to expand selective schools by looking at how 32,844 districts would be affected. The EPI found that there are only six areas in England where parents want new grammar schools and creating them would benefit the wider school population.
  • The Sutton Trust also published research into grammar schools, concluding that ethnic background plays a significant role in entry to these, with disadvantaged white British pupils four times less likely to attend one than disadvantaged Indian pupils are four times.
  • The Independent Schools Council (ISC) said they would provide up to 10,000 free private school places per year to low-income families in England if the Government pays £5,550 per school place, which is the cost per pupil within the state school system. Private schools would then cover any additional costs.
  • The Russell Group said that changes to the exam system mean teenagers have fewer opportunities to change subject at AS-level before committing to take the full A-level. They quoted figures showing that up to 15 per cent fewer students are taking AS-levels after changes mean they no longer count toward A-level grades.
  • The Education Committee launched an inquiry in tandem with the Health Committee into the role of education in promoting emotional wellbeing in children and young people, and preventing the development of mental health problems. The inquiry will include a focus on how teachers and other professionals can be trained to recognise the signs of mental illness and support pupils when problems occur. They have asked for written submissions by 20th January.
  • Schools Week reported on the submissions to the Government’s ‘Schools that work for everyone’ green paper. The responses largely opposed ending of the ban on new grammar schools, with the exception of the New Schools Network. The Institute of Education stated that research ‘does not support the expansion of between-school selectivity as a means of enhancing pupils’ life chances’ while the Campaign for Real Education said the focus should be on funding a technical-vocational school alongside every new grammar.

Further education & skills

  • The Department for Education awarded a £5 million additional investment to the Education and Training Foundation to support its work supporting colleges to deliver the area review programme. The money will also be invested to support FE providers to expand apprenticeships and prepare for the introduction of new technical routes.
  • Alongside the publication of the Taylor review into youth justice, the Ministry of Justice announced new measures to place education and training ‘at the heart of youth justice’, including launching two ‘secure schools’, new measures to monitor progress in English and maths, health and behaviour, and creating a Head of Operations for youth custody to reduce violence and drive up standards. They also announced a bid to have every young person on an apprenticeship pathway that will continue even after they have left custody.
  • Apprentice Eye reported on comments by Skills Minister Rob Halfon, confirming further details of the new Institute for Apprenticeships. Speaking in Parliament, Halfon said the IFA will have an apprentice panel including both learners and students, although there will not be apprentices sitting on the organisation’s board because of their lack of relevant governance experience.

Higher education 

  • The Science and Technology Committee published its report on UK Research and Innovation, stressing that the soon-to-be appointed Chief Executive of UKRI will play a crucial role in the success of the organisation, alongside careful appointments to the organisation’s board. The Committee also agreed with the continued separation of the budgets for Innovate UK and the research bodies within UKRI.
  • HEFCE, alongside the three other HE funding bodies, launched a consultation on the second Research Excellence Framework. HEFCE stated its intention to take forward the recommendations of Lord Stern’s review in its proposals for the new REF, as well as including the views of the HE sector. The deadline for responses is 17th March 2017.
  • The Higher Education and Research Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords. HE Minister Viscount Younger stressed the value of the UK’s ‘world leading’ higher education sector to the UK as a whole. He outlined the impact the Bill will have on the sector, in particular noting the role the Office for Students will play in regulating universities.
  • A study by Deloitte found that six months after graduating in the same subject, students from under-privileged backgrounds earn almost 10 per cent less than the most advantaged. The study revealed that the pay gap is as high as 15 per cent for law graduates, and 13 per cent for computer science and social science graduates. However, the study also revealed that less advantaged medicine and dentistry graduates could earn slightly more than their advantaged peers.
  • HEFCE announced the launch of the new National Collaborative Outreach Programme, which will aim to increase participation in higher education across England. The programme will launch on 24th January 2017, and will provide 29 local consortia with a share of £60 million per year. The consortia will deliver tested approaches to outreach through schools and local communities, as well as developing innovative ways to meet specific challenges in different areas.
  • The Education Committee published the written evidence that was submitted to their inquiry into the impact of exiting the EU on higher education. In total there were 190 submissions. Neil Carmichael MP, the Chair of the Committee, said this highlighted ‘the degree of concern about the fate of UK universities post-Brexit’, noting that the evidence raises a variety of issues relating to freedom of movement.
  • The Guardian reported that the Home Office is looking into reducing international student numbers at UK universities by nearly half, from 300,000 to 170,000 a year.

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