Schools & early years

  • The OECD published results from the 2015 Students’ Well-Being Assessment, finding that UK students have a below the OECD average level of life-satisfaction and experience above average levels of anxiety prior to tests even when they are well-prepared. Almost a quarter of UK students spend more than six hours online outside of school time on a typical weekday, again above average.
  • Figures from the Department for Education showed that 91.1 per cent of primary school children received their preferred school choice, a rise of 2.9 per cent on 2016.DfE pupil absence figures showed that overall absence rate remained at the same rate of 4.6 per cent in 2015/16 as in 2014/15. Illness continues to be the most common reason for absence, accounting for 57.3 per cent.
  • The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference released a survey on the digital behaviour of students and parents. The survey showed that 72 per cent of students spend between three and ten hours online on an average day, and 11 per cent are online between ten and fifteen hours a day.
  • The Chief Executive of YoungMinds, Sarah Brennan, published a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a manifesto commitment to address the ‘mental health crisis’ in classrooms. Brennan called for mental health to be an integral part of training for all teachers.

Further education & skills

  • The Institute for Apprenticeships published its response to the consultation on its Draft Operational Plan. The consultation received 45 responses identifying areas requiring greater clarity, including governance and decision-making, approving standards and assessment plans, external quality assurance, integration with technical education, and the use of metrics.
  • The IfA advertised for its Chief Executive, who will act as the ultimate decision maker on approving apprenticeship standards and assessment plans to ensure they are of high quality, sufficiently stretching and with employer backing. They will also advise on the maximum level of Government funding available for those standards and how much employers can claim for them.
  • The Education and Skills Funding Agency released figures showing that the number of colleges that spent over £200,000 in a single year on salaries for their principals has risen by 50 per cent in the space of a year, from eight to 12 colleges.

Higher education

  • The Government confirmed that EU students will continue to remain eligible for undergraduate, master’s, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support in the academic year 2018 to 2019. The Deputy Chief Executive of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis, said the announcement ‘provides much needed clarity for EU students’.
  • David Sweeney was appointed Executive Chair Designate of Research England. Science Minister Jo Johnson praised Sweeney’s contribution ‘to the UK’s world renowned science and innovation sector’. Sweeney is currently the Director of Research for HEFCE.
  • The Head of UCAS, Mary Curnock Cook, told the Telegraph that students should not have to worry about graduate employment while at university. Cook said that ‘graduates have still got to learn how to function in corporate and working life. Once employed, if they’re good, they’ll get promoted really quickly.’
  • The Higher Education Policy Institute examined the future of the Higher Education and Research Bill, noting that the Bill will need to be agreed to before Parliament is dissolved, or be lost in its entirety, which could mean that the Government may be willing to concede on certain points to pass the Bill. The Bill is due to go to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments, but as yet, no parliamentary time has been put aside for it, with Parliament dissolving on Wednesday 3rd May.
  • The Education Select Committee published its report into the impact of Brexit on higher education, calling for future residency rights of EU citizens working in higher education and currently living in the UK to be guaranteed before the end of 2017, and for the Government to negotiate a deal ‘closely resembling freedom of movement’ for EU students.

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