Friday Five: Ofsted, net-zero employment, students’ priorities, student finance, and exclusions


2nd February 2024

1. House of Commons Education Committee publishes report on Ofsted’s work with schools

The Education Committee has published the initial findings of its inquiry into Ofsted’s work with schools. In news that will be unsurprising to many, the inquiry found that Ofsted has lost trust and credibility with people from across the education sector, and that it has developed a reputation for being unwilling to respond to criticism. The Committee’s recommendations to Ofsted’s new chief inspector, Martyn Oliver, include calls to undertake a more comprehensive community engagement programme that takes in a broad range of views from across the sector, reducing the frequency of inspections for ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools, extending the notice period for schools ahead of inspections, updating the support in place for schools following an inspection, reviewing an alternative to the one word inspection judgements currently in place, and properly addressing the findings of the Prevention of Future Deaths report commissioned in the wake of Ruth Perry’s death.

The full report and recommendations is here.

2. Environmental think-tank Green Alliance calls on the government to fund net-zero job placements for young people

Funding job placements for young people to support Britain’s net-zero transition could help reduce youth unemployment and improve the lives of those not currently in education or employment, Green Alliance has argued in a new report. Britain’s net-zero transition will create 160,000 entry level jobs over the next decade, adding further pressure to a labour market already under significant capacity strain, while there is demand from young people to work in industries tackling the climate crisis. Green Alliance argue that the government should therefore create a programme to fund job placements to support the transition to net-zero, reduce youth unemployment, and equip the workforce of the future with green skills.

The full report is here.

3. NUS report sets out its priorities for the post-election government

The National Union of Students (NUS) has become the latest group to outline its policy wants ahead of the next general election. The union calls for the next government to immediately address the cost of living crisis for students by uprating and backdating maintenance loans, extending universal credit for students, and capping rents. Other notable priorities include introducing a Lifelong Learning Entitlement for all, greater regulation of private student landlord companies, scrapping NHS surcharges for international students, and eliminating student poverty.

The full manifesto is here.

4. DfE’s equality impact assessment of higher education student finance 

This report by the Department of Education analyses several policy proposals for student finance arrangements for the 2024/25 academic year for their implications under the Equality Act 2010. The policies analysed in the report include the 2.5% increase in maximum loans, grants, and allowances for various categories such as living costs, dependents’ grants, disabled student allowance and postgraduate loans. The analysis concludes that these changes will have a negative impact on students, as a 15.5% increase would be necessary to maintain the real value of support given recent inflation. The government acknowledges the cost-of-living pressures and has pledged to allocate additional funding, including £276 million for the 2023/2024 academic year and an additional £10 million for student mental health and hardship funding, complementing university support schemes.

Read the full report here

5. CSJ reports offer new analysis on the school exclusions crisis

A new set of reports by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Suspending Reality, argues that vulnerable pupils, including pupils who have special educational needs, who are known to social services, or who are eligible for free school meals, are most impacted by the growing number of exclusions in schools. The authors argue schools currently operate within an accountability framework that disincentivises inclusive schooling. For instance, in order to perform better in league table rankings, schools are incentivised to permanently exclude pupils they expect to underperform in their GCSEs. As part of this work, CSJ has published two reports: one sets out the scale of the exclusions crisis and its inequitable impact on pupils, and the other explores how MATS can address the situation.

The reports are available here.

That’s all for this week! If you found this blog useful, please be sure to share/tweet it and follow @theCfEY, @Barristotle and @conorcarleton for future editions.