Ofsted have launched a consultation on proposals to change the current process of inspections from September 2015, the consultation closes on 5 December 2014.
The consultation is seeking views on proposals for:
• A common inspection framework for all early years’ settings on the Early Years Register, maintained schools, academies, non-association independent schools and further education (FE) and skills providers – this framework will mean a consistent approach in judgements across these remits.
• The introduction of short inspections for maintained schools, academies and FE and skills providers that were judged good at their previous inspection – conducted approximately every three years and will report on whether or not a provider has maintained its effectiveness but will not provide a full set of graded judgements.
• Conducting a full inspection of non-association independent schools within a three-year period.
• Whether or not a separate graded judgement for the curriculum and how inspection methodology should be developed.
The new inspection framework will consider more thoroughly how well each provider helps to prepare children and learners for life in Britain today.
NECC broadly supports the proposals for a more aligned inspection process which will provide consistency across different providers and age ranges. The focus on how each provider prepared children for life in Britain today is also welcome as this will hopefully provide a slight shift in focus for providers, not just on exam results but also to consider the progression of each child which in turn will be a move towards ensuring through their education they develop a range of skills needed to ensure a successful career and life in the future.
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NECC has made a submission to the Smith Commission, which has been appointed by the Prime Minister to take forward plans for further devolution to Scotland in the wake of the independence referendum. Our submission raised concerns about the lack of effective consultation with the North East, as the economy most likely to be affected by any changes in Scotland. We called for any further devolution to Scotland to be managed in tandem with greater decentralisation in England, to ensure policy supports maximum economic growth in all parts of the UK. NECC raised concerns about promoting inefficient cross-border competition, particularly through devolving duties which could impact consumer behaviour such as air passenger duty. We also called for reform of the Barnett Formula alongside any further devolution. Our full submission can be seen here.
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NECC has hosted two Skills roundtables within the last two weeks. The first was held on Thursday 23rd October at Beamish Museum and was facilitated by NECC partner member Esh Group along with British Chamber of Commerce’s Skills lead, Marcus Mason who came up to visit to get a better understanding of the North East core skills challenges and opportunities.
Another roundtable event focused on skills took place on Friday 31st October at Teesside University’s Darlington Campus and was a forum for Labour MP’s Catherine McKinnell and Ian Wright to seek views from business on what Labours skills priorities should be moving into next year’s election.
Both roundtables had a range of members from all different sectors and sizes of business represented as well as educational institutions. Members outlined some core skills issues the North East faces including issues around apprenticeships, youth unemployment, graduate retention and links between business and education. Both also made recommendations on how these could be addressed.
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NECC, along representatives from chambers across the country, met with Lord Adonis on Friday at the British Chamber of Commerce’s Skills Action Group. The meeting focused particularly on apprenticeships and how the chamber network can better encourage UK businesses to take on apprentices.
During the discussions Lord Adonis recognised that the state need to lead in encouraging businesses to take on apprentices but also there needs to be a much stronger push from schools with Adonis highlighting the need for each school to have a non-teaching member of staff to promote apprenticeships and build links with business. In addition to this it was observed that businesses have a vital role to play in encouraging schools to promote the apprenticeship route and that having business leaders sit on school governing bodies will be essential to ensure this happens.
NECC took the opportunity to raise concerns about the apprenticeship funding reforms and the effects this may have on SME’s taking on apprentices. It was highlighted that to bridge the gap between the world of education and business, chambers of commerce have a crucial role to play.
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NECC has submitted a response to the Cabinet Office consultation on the draft regulations for the transposition of the new EU Procurement Directive for public contracts.
We welcome the potential benefits offered by the new regulations, which match a number of the priorities we have been campaigning for. However, the success of the new Directives to deliver on this potential is highly dependent on how the regulations are transposed; the extent to which they are embraced by contracting bodies; and the awareness of the business community to capitalise on these new opportunities. Accordingly, our recommendations include:
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