Schools & early years

  • The Education Select Committee released a report warning that the Government lacks a long-term plan to address teacher shortages and consistently fails to meet teacher recruitment targets, describing the shortage as a ‘major challenge’. Committee Chair Neil Carmichael MP said: ‘The Government needs to do more to encourage teachers to stay in the profession by raising the status of teachers, improving the opportunities for good quality training, and by doing all it can to help reduce teacher workload.’
  • The Local Government Association called for compulsory sex and relationship education in secondary schools, including academies and free schools, suggesting that this could reduce the number of sexually transmitted infections in young people. The LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board Chairman, Izzi Seccombe, described the lack of compulsory sex education as ‘a ticking sexual health time bomb’.
  • The TES reported that the Neil Carmichael has backed proposals put forward by the Edge Foundation to expand the EBacc to include skills such as engineering.
  • Calculations by property consultants Gerald Eve suggested changes to the rateable value of schools mean some will face a 40 per cent rise in business rates. However, a spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said state schools would see a two per cent fall in their bills.
  • Ofqual announced a number of reforms to the future arrangements for reviews of marking, reviews of moderation, and appeals services, including the right for students to request results of centre-marked assessments from next year.
  • School Standards Minister Nick Gibb gave a speech on the importance of teaching being an evidence-informed profession. Gibb said: ‘Ensuring teachers of the future are equipped with an up-to-date understanding of the latest research and a desire to use evidence to inform their teaching practice is key to improving schools.’
  • The Education Secretary Justine Greening addressed the Chartered College of Teaching and spoke on the role of teachers in ‘driving social mobility’. Greening dismissed claims that Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) would be scrapped, instead stating that a ‘newly strengthened QTS’ would be introduced by September 2019.

Further education & skills

  • The Skills Funding Agency released the updated funding bands that will apply for existing apprenticeship frameworks and apprenticeship standards. All standards remain in the same band in 2016/17 as they were the previous year, except for those in the highest band 5, which have been moved to the highest band 6 in 2016/17.
  • FE Week reported that the Department for Education has admitted to a ‘loophole’ in the Skills Funding Agency qualification achievement rate calculation that ‘artificially’ boosted the rate for around 10 per cent of providers, with some had benefiting by more than 20 per cent.
  • The Association of Colleges submitted recommendations to the Treasury ahead of the spring Budget. They called for spending on education to go up to account for five per cent of GDP, reformed management of education spending to improve efficiency, and a ‘major drive over 10 years to double the supply of maths teachers by 2030’.
  • The DfE released updated statistics which showed that although all-age government-funded apprenticeship participation for 2015/16 went up by 3.2 per cent year on year, participation in government funded adult (19+) further education fell by 11.1 per cent within the same period.

Higher education

  • An analysis of Ucas data by the Press Association found that teenagers’ likelihood of applying to university depends heavily on where they live. The data showed London had the highest application rate of 47 per cent, while the South West had the lowest at 32 per cent, and four times as many teenagers in Wimbledon applied compared with Havant in Hampshire.
  • The Times Higher Education 2017 Teaching Survey found that 48 per cent of academics do not think that students are adequately prepared for university study, and 82 per cent disagree that the National Student Survey accurately represents teaching quality.
  • QS released its rankings for the Best Student Cities for 2017. London was ranked top city in the UK for students, followed by Edinburgh and Manchester, and third in the global rankings, behind Montreal and Paris.
  • Universities Minister Jo Johnson called on universities and student bodies to do more to deal with the spread of websites that provide custom essays for students, saying these ‘threaten to undermine the high quality reputation of a UK degree’. Johnson has tasked the Quality Assurance Agency to take action against the online advertising of these services.

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