Three reports came out this week on growth, regulation and careers.
Michael Heseltine was the first Cabinet member to stand up to Margaret Thatcher when he resigned over the Westland Affair. Earlier this week he published his report ‘No Stone Unturned’ on a growth strategy for the UK. It contains some interesting recommendations and diagrams (including a cartoon of the author on the front cover. Crown copyright 2012 ).
My interest as a knowledge broker was in those points that related to education.
I was particularly pleased to see that Heseltine had suggested diverting funds into careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) for schools and giving local enterprise partnerships more involvement in this vital area, as well as on the best choice of apprenticeships offered to young people.
He also recommended that local authorities publish university and employment destinations data for the individual schools/colleges within their boundaries – this is already being done on an experimental basis by DfE with HE entry data for state-funded schools.
Finally, he said that Ofqual and other non-economic regulators should publish policies showing how their customers can ask without prejudice for an independent second opinion on a regulatory decision or requirement. This should help free up barriers to growth.
Which leads on to …
The second report, published yesterday, which I admit to not reading in full, was by the said Ofqual on its regulatory approach to the ‘GCSE English fiasco’ of this summer.
I could predict what it was going to say and there has been considerable social media activity as a result of it, much focusing on strong pressures from the English schools accountability system on teachers to ensure their students get through the C grade barrier at GCSE.
My point above from the Heseltine Report stands.
The final report, also published yesterday by the Pearson Think Tank, was about the state of careers advice in English schools.
It is not a pretty picture painted within it.
Some schools may be neglecting CEIAG as more and more of them become Academies. These types of institution are increasingly make their own contracting decisions. Their financial strategy (influenced by the funding issue Heseltine suggests remedying above) may be to train up teaching staff to a minimum level to fill in the gap in provision with the removal of Connexions and its replacement by skeleton local authority careers services, if at all.
This could have an impact on both social mobility and labour markets, and ultimately growth.
The report suggests that a better approach is to take a holistic view of CEIAG and integrate it with the curriculum and skills being taught in schools.
It would be nice to think this is a magic bullet, but with all things in education that is just never quite so.