Schools & early years

  • Research conducted by the charity Education and Employers for the Barclays LifeSkills programme showed that if young people have regular contact with employers while at school, they are up to 86 per cent less likely to become Neets.
  • A survey conducted by Place2Be found that 63 per cent of year six pupils worry ‘all the time’ about at least one thing to do with their school life, home life or themselves. Two in five said their worries can get in the way of school work. The research was conducted to mark Children’s Mental Health Week, which takes place this week.
  • A Northern Powerhouse Partnership report recommended that urgent attention be given to improving the performance and aspiration of schools in the north of the country, in order to eliminate the gap with the rest of the UK in the percentage of good and outstanding secondary schools.
  • The Teacher Development Trust published a report on continued professional development (CPD) in education, finding that more than 20,000 teachers work in schools where there is no CPD budget, and that across the sector schools spend an average of just 0.7 per cent of their income on developing their teaching workforce.

Further education & skills

  • The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP, backed the UCU campaign to hire 15,000 more FE teachers, describing them as ‘unsung heroes working so hard to provide vital opportunities in our society’.
  • A Department for Work and Pensions report called Fuller Working Lives: A Partnership Approach said there should be more retraining opportunities for people aged over 45. The report reflected on the recent refocusing of skills policy away from 16 to 19 year olds towards adult education, and called for a greater drive for apprenticeships for older people.
  • A survey by the Association of Accounting Technicians and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants found that 46 per cent of MPs believe the Government’s three million apprenticeship starts target should be modified, with the same number believing this target ignores the importance of both quality and completion rates. Two thirds of MPs said they thought that the levy should be developed to fund skills training other than apprenticeships.

Higher education 

  • UCAS published figures logging applications by January 2017. The data showed that 564,190 people have applied to UK higher education courses for 2017 so far, down five per cent year on year. There was a seven per cent drop in the number of EU applicant figures. The Chief Executive of UCAS, Mary Curnock Cook, said that ‘despite the overall decrease, it is encouraging that the number of 18 year old applicants remains high, and that application rates for disadvantaged groups continue to rise’.
  • Sir Mark Walport was named as the first Chief Executive Designate of UK Research and Innovation, the new research funding organisation being established by the Higher Education and Research Bill. Writing for the Times Higher Education, Sir Mark wrote that the UKRI ‘will provide a coherent voice for research and innovation. It will deliver greater focus on multi- and interdisciplinary research. It will provide a more strategic and agile approach to future challenges’.
  • A report by the Higher Education Policy Institute warned that UK universities will be overtaken unless they embrace new technology. HEPI made a number of recommendations including building the use of technology into the curriculum and embracing the digital agenda at senior levels.
  • The Office of National Statistics began a classification review of universities in the UK. The outcome of the year-long review will be that an individual university will either be deemed to be in the private non-financial corporations sector, or will remain classified as a non-profit institution.
  • Welsh Education Secretary Kirsty Williams announced that the Welsh Government will create a new strategic authority to oversee skills, research funding, and the higher and further education sectors in Wales. The move follows the recommendations of the independent review by Professor Ellen Hazelkorn into post-compulsory education and training published last year.
  • The Office for Fair Access published its access agreement guidance for universities and colleges, which argued that universities must work closely with schools if they are to ensure that talented people from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to secure higher education places.
  • Sir Michael Barber was announced as the Government’s preferred candidate to become the Chair of the Office for Students, which will create and oversee a regulatory environment in higher education.

Contact Lexington Communications’ Education & Skills Practice on and follow us on Twitter on @Lex_EduSkills