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PA's PA 22nd August

PA's PA 22nd August

Welcome to this week’s (holiday-lite) PA’s PA. 


With grades down in English results, many students (and some parents) have been taking to the social media airwaves to lay the blame for their poor results firmly at the door of former Education Secretary Michael Gove.  Awarding bodies said the results reflected a change in the marking process, with the proportion of marks awarded by teachers falling from 30% to 40% and oral presentations no longer counting towards final grades.  The last time the overall pass rate was lower than this year’s was in 2006 and the last time there was such a high year-on-year fall was 1992. 


Tristram Hunt continues to make full use of the quiet summer to criticise the Government and announce how education policy would be different under Labour.  This week he advocates a move away from a “top-down, target-driven, exam-obsessed” culture. 

Alan Smithers, Director of the Centre of Education and Employment research at Buckingham University, warns in The Telegraph of unintended consequences of the introduction of the English Baccalaureate, one of which being the drop in people taking GCSEs in separate sciences.   

The Independent reports that Latin is making a comeback in state schools.  According to figures from the University of Cambridge Schools Classics Project (CSCP) the number of non-selective state maintained secondary schools offering Latin now stands at 600 – up from 100 ten year ago. 

Higher Education

Some in the university sector have called on new Higher Education and Science Minister Greg Clark to confirm his commitment to the brief following publication of his full list of responsibilities.  Clark retains responsibility for a number of areas he previously held in the Cabinet Office and there is concern brewing that having responsibility for such a large number of areas could cause problems. 

Training and skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has launched a new apprenticeships campaign.  ‘Get In. Go Far’ encourages  young people to choose an apprenticeship and is already supported by a number of businesses across a variety of sectors. 

Science strategy

Building on work undertaken earlier in the year where experts contributed their views on the Government’s future science and innovation strategy, BIS has launched over the summer a questionnaire to help shape this strategy.  The nine-question survey, which closes on 12th September, seeks views on the balance between curiosity-driven and applied research, interdisciplinary innovation and how to encourage businesses to spend more on research and development.  To recap, this strategy looks to cover the following areas: 

  • Supporting businesses to invest in research and development;
  • Using our science and innovation systems to support small and medium businesses;
  • Ensuring that we have the right balance of skills in the economy;
  • Enabling more young people to study science and technology, and recognise the range of careers available by doing so;
  • Creating high quality jobs in the UK;
  • Investing in high quality research projects and making the most of our higher education system.

This week we met with Ofqual to discuss enforcement of resources and Save the Children to discuss its national mission for literacy.  Next week we will be attending Beijing Book Fair;  meeting with the Creative Industries Council IP sub group; meeting with; and meeting with the BPI.