The education week that was: Conference season, Ofsted's future and Oscar glory

11th March 2018 at 11:45
education week that was, ASCL, conference, Ofsted, Damian Hinds, Geoff Barton, Lib Dems, Layla Moran, league tables, SATs, Oscars, Oscar, Spring Statement, Philip Hammond, Nadhim Zahawi, GESF, Dubai
Were you in the audience for Damian Hinds' big speech or the Oscars? If not, don't worry. Here's your one-stop education news catch-up

It’s the time of year that thousands of teachers have been waiting impatiently for.

Finally, they get to pack their bags, hop on a train and spend a precious few days out of the classroom…and in a large conference hall, debating education policy.

So no, it's not the summer holiday. It’s conference season for the education unions.

This week's Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) gathering at the International Conference Centre in Birmingham was the first of the bunch.

Writing ahead of the event for Tes, general secretary Geoff Barton said that funding matters above all else, but those hoping that new education secretary Damian Hinds would use yesterday's conference speech to loosen the government's purse strings will have been disappointed.

Instead, he focused on one of the other great issues facing schools: teacher workload, and its role in the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.

Conference calls

Another conference hall getting a little less publicity was the Southport Theatre & Convention Centre.

But while the Lib Dem’s Spring Conference, which it is hosting, might not be making many national headlines, they made a pitch for the teacher vote by pledging to abolish Ofsted, league tables and Sats.

That stirring message was slightly undermined when the party’s education spokesman in the Lords told a different conference how wonderful the inspectorate was.

But with apologies to Birmingham and Southport, the real educational glamour this week was to be found half a world away, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

A British film about a deaf girl’s struggle to fit into a mainstream school stole the hearts of many at Sunday’s Oscar ceremony when it scooped the academy award for best live action short film.

Economy and skills

In the coming week, chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver his first new-style Spring Statement on Tuesday.

But those hoping that his famous red box will contain billions of pounds for schools or teacher pay are likely to be disappointed – and not just because Treasury sources say that the traditional budget prop will not put in an appearance.

Unlike traditional budgets and Autumn Statements, this one is expected to steer clear of any spending announcements – and stick to a more general outline of the country’s economic health.

Other events include early years minister Nadhim Zahawi being questioned by the Commons Education Select Committee for the first time on Wednesday and the great and good of global education jetting off to Dubai for the Global Education and Skills Forum.

No doubt snow week will feel like a very long time ago to those lucky enough to have secured an invitation.

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