Charlotte Bosworth blogs on OCR's Conservative Party Conference fringe event, where five keys to the success of the government's skills plan were set out.
The buzz words at this year's Conservative Party Conference were "Brexit", "social mobility" and "technical education" and it's clear that these are the issues that will frame the political direction in the weeks and months ahead.
OCR joined forces with the Education Policy Institute (EPI) to hold a fringe to debate the government's Post-16 Skills Plan. The Skills Plan was launched into a busy post-referendum news cycle and there hasn't yet been a consultation on the issues it raises or solutions it proposes.
The Skills Plan
and the Independent Panel on Technical Education (led by Lord Sainsbury) on which it was based, sets out an ambitious timescale for reform, so at Conference we wanted to set out our view of the issues that need to be addressed.
We asked the question: 'Does the Lord Sainsbury Review represent a revolution, or a repeat of past mistakes?' We arranged speakers that would respond from different perspectives, Amanda Solloway MP (former member of the Sub Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy), Nick Linford (FE Week), David Hughes (Association of Colleges), our Chair David Laws (former Schools Minister and Executive Director of EPI) and Gemma Gathercole, our Head of Policy – FE and Funding at OCR.
OCR is calling for five key things to ensure success of the Government's plan:
• protection of the applied general route;
• provision for students to move between pathways if they change their mind;
• casting a wide net for stakeholders to ensure that policy implementation is successful;
• developing a realistic timetable for reform;
• and finally, stress-test or pilot the reforms so we make sure they deliver the changes required.
With an already crowded education agenda for the newly expanded DfE, and against a background of continuing austerity, it will be important to ensure those issues of social mobility and technical education manage to make themselves part of the answer to some of the questions thrown up by Brexit. Elsewhere at Conference, the Education Select Committee Chair Neil Carmichael MP was certainly making the case.
Skills and Employment Director, OCR