Schools & Early Years

  • The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission published its annual report, identifying four barriers to progress, including an unfair education system, a two-tier labour market, an imbalanced economy and an unaffordable housing market. The report noted that of the 65 social mobility coldspots in the UK, which have the poorest education and employment prospects, only three voted to remain in the EU.
  • The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) published the results of a survey of 1,094 school leaders, which found that schools were unable to recruit teachers to fill an average of 17 per cent of their advertised posts. More than four in ten school leaders reported that their struggle to recruit was caused by the number of teachers leaving the profession, an increase of nine per cent on last year.
  • Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn MP tabled an Early Day Motion to revoke laws, introduced by the Government in September, to compel schools to collect data on the place of birth and nationality of their pupils.  The motion has been seconded by 12 MPs, including Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner MP.
  • The Teaching Schools Council (TSC) published its Modern Foreign Languages Pedagogy Review, which called for schools to dedicate two to three hours per week to language teaching. They argued that this would support pupils to retain what they’d learnt, because ‘lengthy gaps between lessons’ would be avoided. The review also found that less than 50 per cent of school pupils take a GCSE in a language and, of those who do, only one third achieve a good GSCE in the subject.

Further education & skills

  • Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech to the CBI annual conference, in which she said ‘our technical education isn’t good enough’ and announced that the Government would be publishing a Modern Industrial Strategy Green Paper before the end of the year, followed by the publication of a White Paper early in the new year. May highlighted that even though the UK is the home of more Nobel Laureates than any country with high research productivity outside the US, we are ‘not strong enough in STEM subjects’.
  • The Department for Education released statistics on learner participation, outcomes and highest qualification held in further education and skills. Participation in Government funded adult education was 11.1 per cent lower than in 2014/15. However, all-age Government-funded apprenticeship participation increased to 899,400 in the 2015/16 academic year, up 3.2 per cent on 2014/15.
  • Education Secretary Justine Greening addressed the AoC Annual Conference. FE Week reported that Greening called for support from across the ‘technical education family’ delivering education reforms (such as the apprenticeship levy and a ‘slimmed down’ post-16 FE system). Greening also said the Government needed to ensure that paths into vocational education were ‘every bit as strong as the academic route’.
  • Skills Minister Robert Halfon MP also spoke at the conference, stating that the Department of Education planned to change its English and Maths requirements for post-16 learners. Halfon said: ‘It is clear that we need a credible, high-quality option for students for whom GCSEs are not appropriate or achievable.’
  • Ahead of the Autumn Statement FE sector organisations wrote a joint letter calling for more funding to pay for additional teaching and support staff. The letter was co-signed by the UCU, the AoC, NUS, the Learning and Work Institute, Unison, the ATL, Voice, the GMB, and Unionlearn. They claimed that the number of adult learners totalled more than one million, but that the sector has 15,000 fewer teachers and support staff than in 2009.
  • Analysis of Home Office data by TES revealed that the number of visa applications sponsored by colleges in the first half of the year fell to 3,198, a four per cent decrease on last year’s figure and less than half the number sponsored in 2013. College principals told TES that the increase in anti-immigration rhetoric prompted by the Brexit vote has made it increasingly difficult to attract overseas students.
  • Research by the Ministry of Justice and the Justice Data Lab found that prisoners who have taken part in the prison education scheme run by The Clink Charity are 40 per cent less likely to reoffend. The charity trains prisoners in hospitality roles.
  • A review of skills policy since the last election by the City & Guilds Group warned that positive steps to align technical and academic education could be being jeopardised by a failure to get business on side. The review called for the Government to take a step back and learn from past mistakes, such as the short-lived 14-19 Diplomas.
  • The Technical and Further Education Bill is at Committee stage this week, with oral evidence having been heard today. A full update will be provided next week.

Higher education 

  • Theresa May also spoke on HE at the CBI conference. She said the Government would commit to substantial real terms increases in Government investment in R&D – investing an extra £2 billion a year by the end of this Parliament to ‘help put post-Brexit Britain at the cutting edge of science and tech’.
  • Ucas’s Chief Executive, Mary Curnock Cook, announced that she will stand down next April after seven years in post. The organisation stated they will now begin searching for her successor.
  • The Chair of the Education Select Committee, Neil Carmichael MP, wrote a blog for Wonkhe calling for the Government to clarify its priorities for HE in the upcoming Brexit negotiations. Carmichael cited the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into the impact of Brexit on the sector.
  • The Higher Education and Research Bill completed its Report, Legislative Grand Committee, and Third Reading in the House of Commons yesterday. The Bill was eventually passed by 279 votes to 214. The Bill will now pass to the House of Lords for its First Reading on a date yet to be announced. No opposition amendments were passed.
  • The THE published the Global University Employability Survey, including 11 UK universities in its list of 150 institutions, down from 12 in 2015 and 14 in 2013. Cambridge secured fourth spot, making it the highest-ranking UK university.
  • The Science and Technology Committee published a report on ‘Leaving the EU: implications and opportunities for science and research’. The committee argued that the needs of the sector were not being prioritised by the Department for Exiting the European Union, and called for it to appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser ‘urgently’, as well as to introduce an exemption for EU researchers already working in the UK from future immigration controls.

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