'We're putting education at the heart of the political party conferences'

'The rare mix of people at the conferences creates one of the most concentrated forums for political and policy discussion' – Join Tes and the EPI as we highlight the key issues in education over the next few weeks

John Cope

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It’s that time of year again when politicians, lobbyists, charities, journalists and, of course, party members decamp to conference halls around Britain – Labour head to Brighton this weekend, and the Conservatives to Manchester next weekend.

This rare mix of people creates one of the most concentrated forums for political and policy discussion. Given that the Education Policy Institute (EPI)’s mission is to provide impartial evidence to raise the quality of education policy, conference season gives us, and our partners, the opportunity to highlight the key issues in education.

To make sure education policy is at the heart of both conferences, the EPI is running the EPICentre of Education Policy at both the Labour and Conservative conferences – our most comprehensive programme of events to date. The EPICentre will host discussions on the contribution of education to social mobility, the impact of social media on young people’s wellbeing, vocational and higher education, supporting SEND pupils, and how best to measure how well schools are performing.

'How should we hold schools to account?'

At the Labour conference, one of our biggest events is in partnership with Tes on the 25 September in the Hilton Hotel, between 7.15pm and 8.30pm. We’re asking the question "how should we hold schools to account?", and the event will include a close look at Ofsted, the new Progress 8 measure, performance tables and the impact these all have on teachers, pupils and parents. We will also be exploring whether funding pressures have an impact on curriculum choices and standards, and whether the growth in the number and size of multi-academy trusts means we need to rethink how we best hold schools to account.

The panel discussing these important issues is incredibly experienced. Ann Mroz, editor and digital publishing director at Tes, will be chairing, and will be joined by the executive chairman of EPI, David Laws; Emma Hardy, MP from the Commons Education Select Committee; Lucy Powell, a fellow MP on the education committee and a former shadow secretary of state for education; and the joint general secretary of the new NEU teaching union, Dr Mary Bousted. Further information, and details on how to RSVP, can be found here.

'Are England's schools really getting better?'

At the Conservative conference in Manchester, EPI and Tes will again be in partnership, this time asking "are England’s schools really getting better?" on 3 October. On the panel will be the executive director at EPI, Natalie Perera; former head of the Commons Education Select Committee Neil Carmichael; Will Wragg, a member of the education select committee (invited); and the chairman of the Conservative Education Society, Steve Mastin. The session, as with Labour, will be chaired by Tes' Ann Mroz and will from 12.45pm until 2pm. More information and details how to RSVP can be found here.

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John Cope

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