Freedom of speech in universities

Discussions regarding freedom of speech in universities have become increasingly prominent in recent years. A Government bill which seeks to “strengthen freedom of speech and academic freedom in higher education” is currently in the House of Commons. Critics of the bill have suggested that there is little evidence to suggest freedom of speech in universities is under threat; an opposition amendment seeking to prevent the bill’s passage was defeated at second reading.

Freedom of speech in universities

Initial teacher training: providers market

The usual path into teaching is through initial teacher training (ITT). Successful trainees are awarded Qualified Teaching Status (QTS). As part of its Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, the Government launched a review of the ITT provider market which looked at training quality and the supply of trainees. This article provides an overview of ITT and outlines the review’s proposals ahead of a House of Lords debate on the matter.

Initial teacher training: providers market

Report of the Social Mobility Commission: ‘Social Mobility and the Pandemic’

In July 2021, the Social Mobility Commission published its annual state of the nation report. It warned that the UK has struggled with the “damaging impact” of Covid-19 and as a result social mobility which is “already stagnant” could move backwards. This article considers the findings of the report and the Government’s policy on social mobility.

Report of the Social Mobility Commission: ‘Social Mobility and the Pandemic’
  • In Focus

    School admissions: new statutory guidance

    In England, schools and local authorities must adhere to statutory guidance (the ‘school admissions code’) when carrying out duties relating to admissions. In September 2021, a new school admissions code came into force. This article examines the code and the School Information (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, which were laid by the Government to ensure that previous secondary legislation on admissions aligned with the new requirements in the code.

  • In Focus

    Facial recognition technology in schools

    In October 2021, some schools began taking payments for lunches using facial recognition technology (FRT). In response, the Information Commissioner’s Office and some privacy campaigners have expressed concern that this use of the technology is unnecessarily intrusive. This article focuses on how FRT is used in schools, what concerns have been raised about its use and how it is governed.

  • In Focus

    Education (Assemblies) Bill [HL]

    This private member’s bill would repeal the requirement for schools in England without a designated religious character to provide daily acts of collective religious worship. In its place, the bill would establish a new duty to provide non-religious assemblies which develop the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural education of pupils. It is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 10 September 2021.

  • In Focus

    Leadership training for ministers and senior civil servants

    The Government has outlined an ambition to improve the professional skills held by both ministers and senior civil servants. This follows numerous reports and programmes aimed at improving government performance and effectiveness generally, most recently leading to the creation of a National Leadership Centre. This article provides an overview of developments relating to the training of government leaders ahead of a forthcoming debate on the subject.

  • In Focus

    Cadet forces: funding and social impact

    The cadet forces are voluntary youth organisations that are based on the traditions of the armed forces but are not part of them. The Government says they offer “challenging and enjoyable activities”. They receive some government funding. Independent analysis suggests that they provide benefits both for participants and wider society. An ongoing government scheme aims to increase the number of cadet units in state schools.

  • In Focus

    Educational and cultural exchange programmes

    Educational and cultural exchange programmes have existed for many years. They provide individuals, such as students, with the opportunity to learn and experience cultures outside of their home country. This article discusses exchange programmes such as the Government’s new Turing Scheme and the impact that programmes can have on participants.

  • In Focus

    Public services: impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

    In March 2020, the House of Lords Public Services Committee set up an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on public services which reported in November 2020. Among its findings, the committee identified five weaknesses highlighted by the pandemic that should be addressed to make public services resilient enough to withstand future crises. The committee’s recommendations also aimed to ‘lock-in’ innovations developed during the pandemic to reform public services over the longer-term.

  • In Focus

    Foreign languages: skills in the workforce

    Surveys consistently indicate just under two in three Britons are unable to hold a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue. A number of organisations have drawn attention to this so-called ‘language deficit’ and its impact on trade and employment. This article looks at calls to improve language skills in England in the context of the Government’s ambition for a ‘Global Britain’.

  • In Focus

    Foreign languages: primary and secondary schools

    Ofsted, which inspects schools in England, has said languages are in a “pressured position” in primary and secondary education. Schools in England face challenges around both the quality of language provision and the take-up of languages by students. The Government has proposed changes to language GCSE subject content and assessment, but some have criticised the content and timing of proposals.

  • In Focus

    Early years and childcare fees regulations: regret motion

    The Early Years Foundation Stage (Miscellaneous Amendments) and Childcare Fees (Amendment) Regulations 2021 come into force on 1 September 2021. They introduce a reception baseline assessment (RBA) for children entering reception class; update the statutory framework that early years providers in England must follow; and continue certain annual registration fee arrangements. The House of Lords is set to debate a motion to regret the changes on the basis that introduction of the RBA should be delayed.

  • In Focus

    Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill [HL]

    Students are currently taught about climate change and the environment in several different subjects, for example science and geography. In September 2020, a report by the UK Climate Assembly included the recommendation that climate change should be made a compulsory subject in all schools. The Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill [HL] would make climate change and sustainable citizenship part of the national curriculum taught in maintained schools in England.

  • In Focus

    Elective home education: time for a compulsory register?

    Instances of parents choosing to educate their children at home, known as elective home education, are increasing. These increases have led to concern about the nature of education some children are receiving outside of school. Some groups have called for the Government to establish a mandatory register of all home educated children. This article will look at the issue of elective home education in England in more detail, and explain the Government’s current position on a compulsory register.

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