Friday Five: skills, arts, sex ed, special schools and AP provision, education and employment figures


17th May 2024

1. New Policy Connect report on skills calls for significant shakeup 

A new report by cross-party think tank Policy Connect has called on the next parliament to reform skills policy, tackle skills shortages, and expand provision across the further and higher education landscapes. Headline recommendations included in the report are the development of a new Further Education Workforce Strategy, the removal of financial for 16-19 year olds when accessing further education, a comprehensive reform of the Apprenticeship Levy, and the creation of a new lifelong learning initiative.

This report is part of a wider Policy Connect-led initiative on skills. In December 2023, in partnership with Policy Connect, CfEY published our work on Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs), which set out what needs to change to ensure that HTQs can play a critical role in improving the UK’s skills pipeline.

Policy Connect’s Skills2030 report is here; our work on HTQs is here.

2. ‘Arts Apocalypse’ joint statement issued

A group of 14 organisations and artists, including the National Education Union, Equity, Musician’s Union, and Music for Youth, have issued a statement on the state of arts education in schools and colleges. Arts in the curriculum, the statement warns, is ‘beyond crisis point’ and heading for ‘catastrophe.’ The statement calls for an increase in arts education spending, more arts teachers in schools, and a full curriculum and assessment review.

The full statement is here.

3. Controversial new draft RSE guidance issued by the Government

Children under nine will no longer be taught sex education under new plans announced by the Government this week. The plans, which are currently open for consultation, would also see schools prevented from teaching about gender identity. While Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, argues that the updated guidance would ensure that children ‘are not exposed to too much too soon,’ the announcement has significant and ranging detractors. Paul Whiteman of the NAHT union, among others, argues the changes are ‘politically motivated’ and not in the best interests of young people.

Read the full guidance here.

4. MATs more likely to be selected to run new special or AP free schools

Multi-academy trusts (MATs) are more likely to be selected to run new special or alternative provision (AP) free schools, the Government has said. Guidance published this week argued that MATs ‘are able to operate at increased scale, supporting resilience [of their academies]’ and giving them an edge over single academy or mainstream schools. Due to a focus on financial and operational resilience, MATs are therefore better placed to prove they have the resources to run new special or AP free schools, according to the guidance. 

Read the full SchoolsWeek article covering the guidance here.

5. Number of NEET young people risen in the last 12 months

The number of young people not in education, employment, or training has risen by nearly 100,000 over the past year, according to the latest labour market statistics issued this week. In addition, 56,000 young people aged 16-24 have now been out of work for over six months compared to the figures from May 2023. The number of 16-24 year olds not in education or work is currently 1,126,000.

Read more analysis from the Learning and Work Institute 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.