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PA's PA 21st March

PA's PA 21st March

Parliamentary News

It was Budget week this week, and whilst the question on most (Westminster Village) peoples’ minds was the 40p tax band, there was something in theirfor both science research and the Education is GREAT campaign, alongside funding for a bespoke big data research centre.

And, if you hadn’t already realised, the copyright SIs will definitely not be published this week.  Hopefully the ongoing delay can be linked to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, who are conducting some pre legislative scrutiny of the SIs and who we wrote to to raise concerns.

Education

We met with Education Minister Lis Truss this week, following up on her speech to The PA/BESA conference in December, where she expressed a preference for whole course textbooks and greater use of textbooks in the classroom more generally (and by textbook she confirmed this was shorthand for both physical and digital resources.  The meeting was extremely positive and laid the ground for further discussion with the Minister to demonstrate the quality of published education resources.  We also discussed what DfE might do, possibly via both Ofsted and via teaching training, to get schools thinking about the purchasing of resources.  The Minister is very keen to try and engender a culture change away from teachers reinventing the wheel each year and instead making use of the resources published to assist them.

Meanwhile Nick Gibb asked DfE what guidance his Department has given on the proportion of the questions in the revised Key Stage 2 Mathematics tests which should be (a) real life problems and (b) abstract arithmetical calculations.  The Minister confirmed that at present no guidance has been published on the tests of the new national curriculum to be administered from the academic year 2015 to 2016, but that guidance on the nature of the revised key stage 1 and key stage 2 tests, including mathematics, will be published by the Standards and Testing Agency in the form of test framework documents. These frameworks will be published alongside the Government's response to the primary assessment and accountability consultation. In addition, some example test questions will be made available to schools this summer and a full sample test will be made available in the summer of 2015.  We’ll keep an eye out for this and circulate them when published. 

And Policy Exchange has published this report of the future of school inspections, proposing lesson observations are ditched and a move is made to a new two stage inspection process.

Open Access

RCUK hosted a meeting on the international aspects of Open Access.  This was going to be a G8 meeting until – ahem – diplomatic requirements dictated otherwise.  However, the absence of our Russian colleagues was not keenly felt as a series of international speakers (but mainly British) outlined the developments of the open access market.  Science Minister David Willetts gave a keynote address in which he outlined the importance of publishing in the research process – noting that a pure green model was a “false economy” which would render publishing unviable.  Publishing adds value and “is not a parasite as the hot-heads like to say...it is not an overhead cost to be sliced away”, he went on to say.

Meanwhile The Wellcome Trust has published details of its OA spend in 2012/13.  And the LSE Blog dissects last week’s BIS report on the Research Councils.

And we have it on extremely good authority that the HEFCE mandate will be published on 31st March.

International

UKTI and the Creative Industries Sector Advisory Group are developing a new trade and investment strategy for the CIs and are seeking views here.

Who we’ve met and forthcoming meetings:

This week we: met with Schools Minister, Lis Truss MP; met with Lord Younger; attended a Sherpa/FACT advisory group meeting; attended a Copyright Hub Partners meeting; attended an Alliance for IP event in Brussels, with Mike Weatherley MP; attended and spoke at the RCUK Government meeting on Open Access; attended the Books and Consumers conference.

Next week we are: meeting with shadow BIS Minister, Iain Wright MP; meeting with RIN; meeting with The Reading Agency; attending the Society of Bookmen dinner; meeting with IPO Copyright Director, Ros Lynch.