Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA, a week which saw the Scots decide to stick with the rest of the UK, albeit only after a bribe promise of greater powers over their spending. The final stages of the campaign were perhaps most notable for the re-emergence of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Giving what many from across the ‘no’ political spectrum referred to as the speeches of the campaign, Brown appeared to have re-found the voice and passion which were markedly absence from the 2010 General Election campaign. The PA is particularly delighted that its Scottish employees will not now have to apply for work visas!
Publishing for Britain
The PA has released an eight point plan for growth in the book and journal market. Focusing on likely priority areas of any future government – the need to make the most of technological innovation, increase levels of literacy and for consumers to have choice and be safe in the online environment –Publishing for Britain sets out a package of measures that will not only benefit the UK publishing sector but also the wider society and the economy. Amongst other recommendations, it calls on the government to:
- Make it a statutory requirement for all schools to have a library to increase levels of literacy and reading for pleasure;
- Initiate an inquiry into the digital book retail market to ensure it is working to the benefit of booksellers, publishers, authors and consumers;
- Incentivise creative firms to develop the next generation of digital workers by introducing a digital skills tax.
Commenting, PA Chief Executive, Richard Mollet, said: “The publishing industry sits at the nexus of art and commerce, of education and entertainment. We believe our call for a strong intellectual property framework, a digitally skilled workforce, a highly literate and well-educated population and an enhanced academic and scientific research base will resonate with whichever political party or parties form the next government and look forward to working with them to deliver these important recommendations.” The manifesto has already received coverage in the Financial Times and The Bookseller. The PA will be promoting the manifesto and its recommendations at the upcoming party conferences.
Outgoing Commissioner for the Internal Market, Michel Barnier, addressed the new Parliament in Plenary in Strasbourg on the Digital Single Market and officially confirmed the demise of the White Paper on the Future of Copyright which his Directorate had been working on for most of 2014. He used the speech to reflect on the main achievements of his terms and what is left to be worked on. Copyright was mentioned as a key issue which he said he had approached without ideology, but with pragmatism and evidence-based. Potential remaining obstacles were listed as cross-border video-on-demand, new digital uses for copyright (text and data mining and user-generated content, and the functioning of the value chain (authors remuneration). This being said, he remained of the opinion that copyright did not need to be dismantled and the right balance should be found between protection of investment, remuneration of authors and digital uses.
The Government has responded to the public consultation on the proposed abolition of the Advisory Council on Libraries. Part of the ‘Bonfire of the Quangos’ the aim of the proposal to abolish the ACL is in part to restore proper accountability for activities funded by public money and ensure more effective delivery of public services and also to contribute to the Government’s commitment to reduce the number of public bodies. In its response, the Government noted that almost all respondents (six out of the seven!) did not think the advisory function of ACL should be transferred to another existing body and that a slight majority (four out of the seven) considered the ACL should be retained and improved. While noting these comments the Government confirmed that its preferred option remains to abolish the ACL and that it considers that the function of advising the Secretary of State does not require a statutory body. In the absence of the ACL, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will work closely and meet on a regular basis with relevant stakeholders to discuss library sector issues and to identify those to be brought to the attention of Ministers.
Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, has urged parents to help with their children’s homework (Sunday Times (£)). Speaking before the return to a focus on traditional teaching methods such as long division, times tables and phonics, he said that parents need to play a more active role in their children’s education. Echoing the central call of the Read On Get On campaign (reported in last week’s PA’s PA) he also said that parent should spend 10 minutes each day reading to younger children and listening to older children read for ten minutes.
The Government has responded to the Education Select Committee’s report on Underachievement in Education by White Working Class Children, saying that schools should run a longer day to prevent pupils from such families falling behind their peers. The response comments that pupils from poor backgrounds benefited the most from a longer day because it gave them time to “complete work in a calm and supportive environment” – away from often chaotic home lives. Schools should plan their day based on “what works in the best interests of their pupils’ education and not simply on tradition”. The Independent reports on it here.
The National Numeracy Group has published a Manifesto for a Numerate UK. It lists seven proposals designed to transform attitudes and establish a new approach to numeracy throughout school and beyond. The charity wants to see numeracy become a pervasive part of the school curriculum – with every teacher trained and ready to draw out the elements of numeracy in all subjects. It proposes that a new measure of numeracy proficiency should be introduced for 14-year-olds and that an additional GCSE in numeracy – or core maths – should sit alongside traditional GCSE maths. For adults, the charity recommends a new adult core curriculum built around the idea of ‘numerate behaviour’ and new approaches to the funding and assessment of adult numeracy learning. It also wants to see more behavioural research into how both adults and children can develop resilience in learning maths.
Following the British Council’s announcement last week (see last week’s PA’s PA) M&S has announced it too is to enter the online education market and is launching a business course with Leeds University. The MOOC (massive open online course) is a free course on business innovation and will use case studies, video from the company’s archive and support from university academics.
The Guardian reports on comments from Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (and former Special Adviser to former Minister David Willetts) that major reforms to the higher education system are ill-thought out and could lead to an influx of European students. New rules lifting the cap on student numbers were “fuzzy” and published without considering potential pitfalls.
This week we have met with Anna Paige, Deputy Director, Qualifications and Curriculum Division at the DfE, attended a workshop on the Collective Rights Management Directive, met with the Financial Times and attended a meeting of the Educational Publishers Forum. Next week we will be attending the Labour Party Conference in Manchester and the launch of the IP Crime Group’s Annual IP Crime Report.