Schools & Early Years

  • Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP spoke at the Education World Forum on the subject of teacher-led education, saying ‘the most effective, teacher-led practices should be twinned with a knowledge-rich curriculum’. He added that this is how evidence can be turned into ‘policy, action and change’.
  • The annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator for England was published. Shan Scott welcomed the new timetable for admissions. She also noted that concerns about admission arrangements continue to make up the largest part of the work of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, accounting for 200 of 238 new cases, with objections largely coming from parents.
  • The British Humanist Association published a report concluding that the teaching of personal, social, health, and economic education (PSHE) and sex and relationships education (SRE) in English schools is being ‘fatally neglected’ by inspectors. They found that SRE was mentioned by inspectors in less than one per cent of reports and PSHE in just 14 per cent of reports, fewer than almost all other established subjects, including history (36 per cent), geography (26 per cent), music (31 per cent), and art (31 per cent).
  • The Telegraph reported that the Government is sponsoring a £300,000 drive to recruit teachers from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and America in an attempt to plug a physics and maths shortage by September.
  • The TeachFirst founder, Brett Wigdortz, announced that will be stepping down in October. Wigdortz founded the organisation 15 years ago. He said TeachFirst’s work has only just begun, and called for ‘a united effort to ensure every young person receives the education and opportunities they deserve’.
  • Mike Crowhurst, who previously taught history in a Birmingham school and is currently director of education at the New Schools Network, has been appointed as head of education at Number 10.
  • The BBC reported that the Treasury took back £384m originally promised for schools in England to fund plans to require all schools to become academies. The compulsory academisation plan was abandoned last year, and the Department for Education has confirmed that the Treasury took back most of this extra funding. Malcolm Trobe, leader of the ASCL union, said that heads would be ‘extremely disappointed and angry’.

Further education & skills

  • The Skills Funding Agency published draft adult education funding and performance management rules for August 2017 to July 2018, which will apply to all providers of education and training who receive adult education budget funding. The SFA has set out its intention to make further changes to the rules following consultation with employers, providers and other stakeholders.
  • The Institute for Apprenticeships published a draft operational plan, released for consultation. The document set out how the Institute will take the lead on a number of ongoing reforms to improve the apprenticeship system. It details how the institute will provide advice to the Government on funding and ensure employers get the skills that they need from the apprenticeship system. The deadline for responding to the consultation is 27th February. The Government also announced eight Institute for Apprenticeships board members.
  • The Social Mobility Commission published research showing that people from working class backgrounds who get a professional job are paid an average of £6,800 (17 per cent) less each year than colleagues from more affluent backgrounds. Academics from the London School of Economics (LSE) and University College London (UCL) used extensive data from the UK Labour Force Survey to examine access to the professions and the impact of socio-economic background on earnings.
  • DfE published Statistics about learner participation, outcomes and highest qualification held in further education and skills. The statistics showed participation in Government- funded adult further education fell by 11 per cent between 2014/15 and 2015/16, while participation in all-age Government-funded apprenticeships rose by 3.2 per cent.

Higher education 

  • The Higher Education and Research Bill completed its committee stage in the House of Lords and will have its report stage on a date to be announced.
  • The DfE released figures showing that the vast majority of English universities have opted in to be assessed by the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The data shows that 299 providers have agreed to participate, including all English members of the Russell Group. Universities Minister Jo Johnson MP said: ‘The Teaching Excellence Framework will drive up the standard of teaching and give students clear, understandable information about where they are likely to receive the best teaching and outcome.’
  • The Disabled Student Sector Leadership Group released a report on how HE providers can ensure that they are equipped to support disabled students. The report encourages HE providers to look at how they can support and offer the best environment for disabled students to pursue their studies, and considers the requirement to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Equality Act 2010.
  • The Former Business Secretary, Sir Vince Cable, launched a free online politics and economics course at the University of Nottingham on ‘the Politics of Economics and The Economics of Politicians’. Sir Vince is an Honorary Professor of Economics at the University.
  • UCAS released data that covers applications, offers, and placed applicants by sex, area background, and ethnic group at the 133 largest UK universities. Among other findings, the data showed a seven per cent decline in the number of EU applicants.
  • Universities UK’s Bell Review group published a report on UK HE Sector Agencies. The report called for a reduction in the number of core agencies taking over the next two years, proposing a new body bringing together the functions of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy, and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.

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