Education Policy and Research Service 2023-2024 Weekly Update 16 November 2023

Dear Subscribers

Greetings from Leeds where I am attending the UCET (Universities Council for the Education of Teachers) conference. My colleague Jacqueline and I are running a stand, raising awareness of the EPRS. I also presented a seminar about the EPRS toolkits – if you have used them; I’d love to hear about your experience! And now onto the weekly updates!

Starting off with the theme of mental health, there are a couple of updates to the guidance document Promoting and supporting mental health’. The updated document gives details of a second grant for senior mental health leads. It informs us that between October 2021 and July 2023, more than 13,900 schools and colleges claimed a training grant to train a mental health lead.  

Moving to vocational education, you may be aware of local skills improvement plans (LSIPs). These provide an opportunity for providers to work with employers and other stakeholders in a way which responds to local employment needs and the local economy. Last week the DfE updated the guidance document for the development of LSIPs with additional information about stage 2 of the development process. There was also news last week of a £200 million government investment to support colleges and universities to offer more training opportunities in key industries such as green industry. Investment is being targeted to address the skills needs of each region, which have been identified as priority sectors in LSIPs. The funding aims to ensure that more people can access higher technical qualifications – which sit between A level, T levels, and degrees as an alternative to a traditional three-year degree. You can read more here.

Is your school wifi inadequate? There may be good news for some of you as the DfE announces the ‘Connect the Classroom’ programme which upgrades wifi access points and network switches in schools. In order to be eligible, a school must either be in one of the government’s education investment areas and have an Ofsted rating of ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ or be in a priority education investment area. You can read more about the programme here.

There has been much discussion and debate in recent times around the extensive reforms to the Post-16 qualifications landscape – most notably the introduction of T levels and the government’s intention to de-fund vocational qualifications which are considered to overlap with T levels. The new Guide to the post-16 qualifications landscape at level 3 and below lays out the detail and timeframe of the changes. It also provides details on the transition to the Advanced British Standard. This is a new baccalaureate-style post-16 qualification which will bring academic and technical pathways together into a single framework, with students able to study a technical route based on the T Level model, academic subjects, or a combination of both.

Over on the Ofsted website, the most updated inspection figures for schools in England have been published. There are currently 22,008 open schools in England. Of these, all bar 231 have an inspection judgment. Sixteen per cent of schools were graded ‘outstanding’ in their most recent inspection, 73% were graded ‘good’, 8% were graded ‘requires improvement’, and 2% were graded ‘inadequate’.

I look forward to updating you next week.

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