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Wednesday 17 May 2017

NIESR Blog: Britain's skills problem

Article by Sandra McNally

It is well known and acknowledged in the government’s Industrial Strategy that Britain has a skills problem: ‘We have a shortage of technical-level skills and rank 16th out of 20 countries for the proportion of people with technical qualifications’. As the Green Paper also says, ‘a bewildering complex array of qualifications, some of which are poor quality, makes the system hard to use for students and employers’. This shortage of ‘technical level skills’ is important because it impacts on economic growth, inequality and social mobility. It also affects a lot of people. Well over half of young people do not do A-levels each year. Furthermore, only about 35-40% of a typical cohort finishing their GCSEs can expect to go to university. The shortage of ‘technical skills’ mainly needs to be supplied by those who choose non-academic pathways. This is a major educational issue and all parties should be addressing it in their manifestos.

Related publications

‘Post-Compulsory Education in England: Choices and Implications’, Claudia Hupkau, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela and Guglielmo Ventura, National Institute Economic Review, 240(1), May 2017

DOI: 10.1177/002795011724000113

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/002795011724000113

Post-Compulsory Education in England: Choices and Implications Claudia Hupkau, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela and Guglielmo Ventura, CVER Discussion Paper No.1, July 2016

Post-16 educational choices in England’, Claudia Hupkau, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela and Guglielmo Ventura. Article in CentrePiece Volume 22, Issue 2, Autumn 2016





Friday 12 May 2017

National Institute Economic Review, 240(1), May 2017: ‘Post-Compulsory Education in England: Choices and Implications'

Claudia Hupkau, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela and Guglielmo Ventura

DOI: 10.1177/002795011724000113

Related publications

Post-Compulsory Education in England: Choices and Implications Claudia Hupkau, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela and Guglielmo Ventura, CVER Discussion Paper No.1, July 2016

Post-16 educational choices in England’, Claudia Hupkau, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela and Guglielmo Ventura. Article in CentrePiece Volume 22, Issue 2, Autumn 2016





Monday 06 March 2017

CVER Press Release: Transforming Technical Education in England: Analysis of promised budget proposals

Trails for the Chancellor’s budget speech on Wednesday promise big new plans for technical education in England. Professor Sandra McNally of the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) at the London School of Economics, who is available for comment on the proposals, summarises the evidence and her view of what reforms are needed.

http://cep.lse.ac.uk/textonly/_new2014/news/releases/2017_03_06.pdf





Friday 03 March 2017

FE Week: Government silent on adult skills behavioural research centre funding

The government is refusing to say whether more funding will be given to two “pioneering” FE research centres after their start-up grants end shortly.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Vocational Education Research is beginning to publish its own projects after being given a £3 million government grant in May 2015. Dr Sandra McNally leads the centre, and said that in the two years it has been running, her team has focused on “huge administrative data”, such as individual learner records, the national pupil database and longitudinal education outcomes data, in an attempt to process, code and apply it to their research.





Tuesday 31 January 2017

BBC Radio 4: The Today Programme

Dr Hilary Steedman discusses IFS report criticising huge investment into apprenticeships.

0725
Is the way in which the Government will fund new apprenticeships a monumental waste of money? Dr Hilary Steedman is a senior research fellow at LSE specialising in apprenticeships.

 





Tuesday 31 January 2017

Personnel Today: Apprenticeship levy and targets risk being poor value for money

Dr Hilary Steedman, senior research fellow at The London School of Economics, speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, said: “I think the IFS has really overstated their case here. We have a really serious skills problem in this country and we need to raise skills through apprenticeships in order to promote economic growth and improve our productivity levels, which are dire compared to Europe.”





Friday 28 October 2016

The Times Educational Supplement - TES: 'The pen is mightier than the computer for learning'

Pupils make substantially more progress in literacy if they follow a pen-and-paper course than if they take a similar programme online, new research has found. Researchers working with pupils in 51 primary schools found that those following a paper-based literacy programme made 50 per cent more progress than those doing an identical course on a computer. ... Dr Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela, an education researcher at the London School of Economics, who carried out the study for the Education Endowment Foundation, believes that it is not the medium of instruction that makes the difference. Instead, it is the teaching that goes along with it. ''In general, research finds very mixed results about the use of technology in school,'' she said. "There are studies that haven't found very big effects from the use of ICT in learning.

This article was published by The Times Educational Supplement on October 28, 2016
Link to article here

Related links
Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
CVER website





Sunday 09 October 2016

AMEinfo.com: How is your smartphone distracting you and how to control it

Impact on academia
While technology has disrupted the educational system across the world, and with tablets and laptops replacing physical text books and the entire teaching and learning experience, smartphones remain to be the most controversial aspect in this regard.
Research conducted by Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy, and published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, found that banning mobile phones from school premises adds up to the equivalence of an additional week of schooling for a pupil's academic year.

This article was published online by AMEinfo.com on October 9, 2016
Link to article here

Related Publications
In brief ... Phone home: should mobiles be banned in schools?, Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy, CentrePiece Volume 20, Issue 1, Summer 2015
Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction and Student Performance, Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy, Centre for Economic Performance Discussion Paper No.1350, May 2015

Related links
Richard Murphy webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage





Tuesday 13 September 2016

The Irish Times: Solas revamp brings overdue direction to adult education

There have been major changes to Ireland's apprenticeship system over the past few years, and now the overall number of apprentices is expected to increase to about 10,700. And, although Ireland's apprenticeship system is undergoing a much-needed and radical overhaul, to bring in more numbers, the old system couldn't exactly be described as broken. A 2010 report from researchers at the London School of Economics said that ''the duration and standard of apprenticeship training in Ireland is similar to the best European provision and intended to facilitate recognition as skilled craftsmen/women in other EU states''.

This article was published online by The Irish Times on September 13, 2016
Link to article here

Related publications
In brief: The state of apprenticeships, Hilary Steedman. Article in CentrePiece Volume 15, Issue 2, Autumn 2010
The State of Apprenticeship in 2010. International Comparisons: Australia, Austria, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland by Hilary Steedman, jointly published by CEP and the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network.

Related links
Hilary Steedman webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
CVER website





Friday 09 September 2016

Financial Times: May goes into battle for selective education

Prime minister champions grammar system but critics argue reforms will damage social mobility
But critics were quick to dismiss the reforms. Professor Sandra McNally, director of education and skills at the London School of Economics' Centre for Economic Performance, said: ''Tests at age 11 are strongly associated with family income,'' she added. ''This change will probably increase social segregation.''

This article was published online by the Financial Times on September 9, 2016
Link to article here

Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
CVER website
Sandra McNally CEP publications webpage





Tuesday 23 August 2016

This is Money: Tax-free childcare is on the way - but will your family be any better off and how will it compare to childcare vouchers?

The average cost of full-time childcare across the UK for a child under the age of two is £217.57 a week. Part-time care (25 hours, as opposed to the full 50) costs £116.77 a week. Assuming both parents work full-time and get 25 days holiday a year, the average annual bill for 47 weeks of full-time childcare is just over £10,200 and for part-time is close to £5,500. It's hardly surprising then that working mums in lower-paid jobs are being forced to substantially cut their hours or give up work altogether after having a second child, according to a new study from the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.

This article was published online by This is Money.co.uk on August 23, 2016
Link to article here

Related links
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) website





Friday 19 August 2016

Times Educational Supplement - TES: 'Revolving door' warning

Thousands of 16-year-olds are stuck in an educational ''revolving door'', returning year after year to study low-level qualifications, a major new study has found.
The Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) at the London School of Economics tracked a cohort of 575,000 teenagers for four years to find out what progress they made after GCSEs. The researchers' findings were stark: among the learners who sat GCSEs at the age of 16 in 2009-10, about 10,000 were found to be working towards low-level qualifications for four consecutive years.

This article was published by the Times Educational Supplement (TES) on August 19, 2016
Link to article here

Related publications
Post-Compulsory Education in England: Choices and Implications, Claudia Hupkau, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela and Guglielmo Ventura, CVER Discussion Paper No.001, July 2016

Related links
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Sandra McNally webpage
Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela webpage
Guglielmo Ventura webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research website
Education and Skills Programme webpage





Monday 15 August 2016

CIPD: Government urges employers to make breastfeeding at work easier

New initiatives planned to end 'unacceptable and unlawful' discrimination against working women
Employers are being told to do more to help mothers breastfeed their babies at work, as part of the government's latest initiative to tackle workplace discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers. The government's plans aim to encourage organisations to take ''a more progressive approach'' towards female staff who return to their jobs after having children, such as by providing private spaces for breastfeeding mothers to express and store their milk, and places where they can feed their babies while at work. ... In a letter to MPs, James said she wanted pregnant women, mothers and ''all women'' to be able to work ''if they choose to do so''. Her comments follow a study released last week by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, which found that most mothers in low-skilled jobs were forced to give up work after the birth of their second child.

This article was published online by CIPD on August 15, 2016
Link to article here

Related links
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) website



Monday 08 August 2016

CIPD: Most mothers 'forced to give up work after second child'

Working mothers in low-skilled jobs are being forced to either considerably reduce their hours or give up work altogether after having a second child, according to a wide-ranging study that suggests lack of access to childcare has a profound effect on the labour market. While having one child has a relatively limited effect on workforce participation, women in low-skilled jobs reduced the amount they worked each week by an average of 18 hours after the arrival of their second child, according to the study from the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics (LSE).

This article was published online by CIPD on August 8, 2016
Link to article here

Related links
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) website





Sunday 07 August 2016

The Daily Mail online: Having a second baby forces women into poverty: Childcare costs see mothers in low-paid jobs give up work to look after children instead

The addition of a second child can put families under serious financial strain - and in the case of women on the lowest incomes - convince them to give up work altogether in the face of rising childcare costs, a new study has found. Economists Claudia Hupkau and Marion Leturcq compared women in skilled and low-skilled jobs before the birth of their first child and again after their second.

This article was published online by the Daily Mail on August 7, 2016
Link to article here

Related links
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) website





Saturday 06 August 2016

Guardian: For UK women in low-paid jobs, a second child is a mixed blessing

A new study finds that, while the addition of a second child has little effect on the working hours of mothers in skilled jobs, it has a substantial and negative effect on low-skilled women who are forced to reduce their hours considerably or even give up their jobs altogether. The findings reinforce the view that there is a shortage of affordable childcare in the UK, despite successive government attempts to help women into work in recent years. The study, by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, to be presented at this month's annual congress of the European Economic Association in Geneva, examined a group of 3,000 women in the UK aged between 20 and 36 who had their first child between 2000 and 2001.

This article was published by the Guardian on August 6, 2016
Link to article here

Related links
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) website





Wednesday 03 August 2016

Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) blog: Reflections on the employer support for higher level skills report

Article by John Denham
For the past 20 years and longer, Ministers of all parties have wanted to see more employers support employees and apprentices to gain higher levels skills and higher education. With strong bi-partisan support in a relatively non-ideological area of policy it seems odd that employer supported higher skills have not become a more important part of the skills and education system. In a recent short project for the Institute of Public Affairs I wanted to examine why public policy had apparently failed. I have an interest: I was Secretary of State at the Department for Innovation and Skills from 2007 to 2009 and, more recently, had proposed radical reforms to higher education finance that depended heavily on the expansion of employer supported degrees.

This article was published on the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) blog on August 3, 2016
Link to article here

Related links
In full: Employer Support for Higher Level Skills Report
CVER website





Friday 15 July 2016

CVER blog: If A-Levels aren't for you, choices at age 16 could now get a whole lot simpler

Article by CVER Director, Sandra McNally, on some of the recommendations of the recent Sainsbury Report
The incoming British prime minister Theresa May has outlined a vision of a country that ''works not for the privileged few but that works for every one of us ... because we're going to give people control over their lives''. A good place for her to start would be to make sure that the government sticks to its promise to implement the 34 recommendations set out in a new report that aims to radically simplify the education choices available for people after age 16. The Sainsbury report, published on July 8, sets out a blueprint for technical education for young people and adults. The report is wide-ranging and ambitious, with recommendations that cover many aspects of the way education is provided. The government's Post-16 Skills Plan, published on the same day, says the Sainsbury recommendation will be accepted ''unequivocally where that is possible within existing budgets''.

This article was published on the Centre for Vocational Education (CVER) blog on July 15, 2016
Link to article here

Related articles
This article was originally published on The Conversation

Related publications
Post-Compulsory Education in England: Choices and Implications, Claudia Hupkau, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela and Guglielmo Ventura, CVER Discussion Paper No.001, July 2016

Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
CVER website
Education and Skills Programme webpage





Wednesday 13 July 2016

The Conversation: If A-Levels aren't for you, choices at age 16 could now get a whole lot simpler

Article by Sandra McNally, Director of the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER), LSE and Head of Education and Skills Programme, CEP
The incoming British prime minister Theresa May has outlined a vision of a country that works not for the privileged few but that ''works for every one of us ... because we're going to give people control over their lives''. A good place for her to start would be to make sure that the government sticks to its promise to implement the 34 recommendations set out in a new report that aims to radically simplify the education choices available for people after age 16. ... Nowhere is reform more necessary than in the options for 16-year-olds, after they finish their GCSE exams, as my colleagues and I have outlined in a new paper. As it currently stands, the system is obtuse - even for us ''experts''.

This article was published by The Conversation blog on July 13, 2016
Link to article here

Related publications
Post-Compulsory Education in England: Choices and Implications, Claudia Hupkau, Sandra McNally, Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela and Guglielmo Ventura, CVER Discussion Paper No.001, July 2016

Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research website
Education and Skills Programme webpage





Friday 08 July 2016

CVER News: CVER Discussion Paper Published

Post-16 education and training is still socially and academically divided, research shows
Thousands of 16 year-olds are stuck in an educational ‘revolving door,’ returning year after year to study low-level qualifications.
And apprenticeships are still failing to attract sufficient numbers of better-off, better-qualified applicants, according to research published today from the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) at the London School of Economics.

"Post-Compulsory Education in England: Choices and Implications" by C. Hupkau, S. McNally, J. Ruiz-Valenzuela, and G. Ventura, CVER Discussion Paper 001



Friday 08 April 2016

Mail online: The 'neglect' of Britain's young middle achievers: Government accused of ignoring needs of those who don't go to university

A generation of young, 'middle achievers' are being left behind by the Government because they do not go to university, a damning report has claimed. Most youngsters - 53% - do not go on to university or do A levels, yet their needs are often ignored by the Government, a Lords committee has concluded. This 'missing middle' of youngsters who take up jobs or vocational education are allowed to drift through life. They are often given poor career advice and locked into low paid jobs, the House of Lords committee on social mobility warned.

This article was published online by The Daily Mail on April 8, 2016
Link to article here

Related publications
House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility Report of Session 2015-16. 'Overlooked and Left Behind: improving the transition from school to work for the majority of young people' (PDF)
Key suggestions from oral witnesses include those from Professor Sandra McNally, Director of CVER.
Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER), LSE written evidence: Response to the House of Lords Call for Evidence on ''Transitions from School to Work''

Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Hilary Steedman webpage
CVER website
All CEP Responses to Government Inquiries and Consultations webpage





Friday 08 April 2016

www.parliament.uk : Governments have failed a generation of young people, say Lords

53% of young people do not follow the 'traditional' academic route into work. This majority of young people are significantly overlooked in their transition for work by the education system and the focus on apprenticeships is not suitable for everyone, the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility has found.

This article was published on the www.parliament.uk website on April 8, 2016
Link to the article here

Related publications
House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility Report of Session 2015-16. 'Overlooked and Left Behind: improving the transition from school to work for the majority of young people' (PDF)
Key suggestions from oral witnesses include those from Professor Sandra McNally, Director of CVER.
Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER), LSE written evidence: Response to the House of Lords Call for Evidence on ''Transitions from School to Work''

Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Hilary Steedman webpage
CVER website
All CEP Responses to Government Inquiries and Consultations webpage





Thursday 18 February 2016

CVER Conference 2016: Call for Papers

CVER Conference September 2016 - Call for Papers

The Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) at the London School of Economics (LSE) is holding a conference on the economics of vocational education and training on 5-6 September 2016. Keynote speakers include Professor Eric Maurin (Paris School of Economics), Professor Sarah Turner (University of Virginia), and Professor Stefan Wolter (University of Berne).

We would like to invite papers on any aspect of the economics of vocational education and training. Please submit a full paper or an extended abstract by 30 April 2016 to cver@lse.ac.uk.

The conference will be held in London and will be free to attend but no funds are available for accommodation/travel. The conference will be relatively small and we expect to be over-subscribed. Full papers are preferred over extended abstracts. Decisions will be made soon after the deadline.

Related Links
CVER Special Events webpage





Thursday 28 January 2016

CVER / OECD Report Launch: Building Skills for All: Review of England

Report Launch - Building Skills for All

Review of England


On 28 January 2016 we hosted the launch of the OECD report on adult skills in England, Building Skills for All, Review of England.

In England there are around nine million people with low literacy or numeracy skills or both. These nine million people might, for example, struggle to estimate how much petrol is left in the petrol tank from a sight of the gauge, or not be able to fully understand instructions on a bottle of aspirin. While basic skills of older people in England compare reasonably well with skills of their counterparts in other countries, younger people are lagging badly behind. This report was commissioned to offer an independent assessment of what could be behind these issues and to recommend some potential policy solutions.

Speakers included: Frank Bowley (Deputy Director, Skills Policy Analysis, BIS), Sandra McNally (Director, CVER) and report authors

 





Friday 27 November 2015

FEWEEK.CO.UK: Good news in Budget - but what does it mean for learners?

Sandra McNally, Director of the Centre for Vocational Education Research, considers the possible impact of Chancellor George Osborne's November 25 Budget.

This article was published in FEWeek.co.uk on November 27, 2015
Link to article here. See p.14.

Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
CVER website
Education and Skills Programme webpage





Wednesday 18 November 2015

CVER News: CVER gives evidence to the Select Committee on Social Mobility

On 18 November, representatives from the Centre for Vocational Education Research gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility, as part of its inquiry into the transition from school to work for 14-24 year olds, with a focus on those young people who fall between the route of A-Levels and Higher Education and those classified as ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET).

CVER Director, Professor Sandra McNally, and Dr Stefan Speckesser, Chief Economist from the Institute for Employment Studies and member of the CVER consortium, took part in an evidence session on the use of data, its strengths and limitations, as well as the accessibility of relevant data. The complexities of vocational education data were described, and the need for merged data to gain better understanding of people’s participation in education and the labour market. The importance of generating administrative linked data as efficiently as possible across government departments was emphasised, as this would allow greater analysis of the education pathways and subsequent trajectories of young people in a far more contemporary setting. A transcript of the session is available online.

The Committee aims to report to the House of Lords with recommendations in late March 2016 - http://www.parliament.uk/social-mobility-committee.  





Monday 05 October 2015

FE Week: Another centre to address lack of FE research as UCL's Institute of Education looks at post-14 education and work

A third FE research centre has launched just a year after Professor Lady Alison Wolf decried how the sector was ''woefully short of good, up-to-date research''. ... The work of the new centre, said Mr Grainger, would complement that of other sector organisations involved in research, including the Further Education Trust for Leadership (Fetl) and the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER). Meanwhile, a fourth research body remains in the planning stages at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF).

This article was published online by FE Week on October 5, 2015
Link to article here



Wednesday 30 September 2015

Financial Times: Resources on skills supply and demand already exist

We already have two sets of pioneering work being undertaken in the UK to address this very problem. One is the JPMorgan Foundation funded work at the Institute of Public Policy Research working with US business Burning Glass; while the second is the creative use of the US data set O*NET by researchers at the Centre for Vocational Education Research, based at the London School of Economics and funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

This article was published in the Financial Times on September 30, 2015
Link to article here



Tuesday 01 September 2015

CVER blog: The past and future of apprentices

The Centre for Vocational Education Research's Claudia Hupkau looks at what can be learnt from past apprentices growth for the government's 3 million apprenticeship target.
With GCSE results recently out, many students are now facing the decision of whether to do A-levels or whether to opt for different types of further education, for instance an apprenticeship or a college course. Given the recent efforts of the government to encourage firms to increase the number of apprenticeships for young people, they are set to become an ever more relevant option for those recently out of school. The government has set itself a target of 3 million new apprenticeships over this parliament. Measures have been taken to help secure the funding of these 3 million new places via a new apprenticeship levy (see a commentary by Hilary Steedman here). How firms will be encouraged to actually create those places is a question that is yet to be answered.

This article was published on the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) blog on September 1, 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research webpage





Thursday 09 July 2015

CVER Event: Minister hosts BIS/CVER Professional and Technical Education Seminar

The Minister of State for Skills, Nick Boles MP, hosted a Ministerial Seminar on Professional and Technical Education Routes, jointly organised by the Centre for Vocational Education Research and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 9 July.

Experts were asked to share their vision of what an education system that can deliver high quality professional and technical skills at intermediate and higher levels should look like. Andreas Schleicher, OECD Head of Education and Skills, introduced the meeting with an overview of the state of the English intermediate skills and education compared to other OECD countries (View his presentation). Delegates were invited to address the following broad question, which was then the focus of discussion at the seminar (conducted under 'Chatham House' rules):

What should we do to address the issues that face technical and professional education in this country? Including:
  • What provision (e.g. curriculum and qualifications) is needed to deliver high-quality technical and professional education, and why?
  • Which providers (e.g. schools, colleges, universities, independent training providers) are needed to deliver high-quality technical and professional education, and why?
  • How do we ensure that there are clear and coherent routes from initial skills development to the most advanced technical and professional training?
A fuller report of the meeting is available online, as well as the participants' submissions. The outcome of these discussions will feed into the work of the Centre for Vocational Education Research. We are very happy to receive comments and suggestions on this area of research, which can be sent to cver@lse.ac.uk



Tuesday 23 June 2015

The Conversation: The divide is growing between what employers and ministers want students to study

Article by Sandra McNally
From this September, all pupils at secondary school will have to study English, a language, maths, science and history or geography at GCSE. This is the English Baccalaureate, or Ebacc, which education minister Nicky Morgan has insisted are core academic subjects that should be taken by all children. The director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), John Cridland, does not approve: he has called for GCSEs to be phased out and replaced with an exam system that gives equal value to vocational subjects.

This article was published by The Conversation online on June 23, 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Sandra McNally CEP publications webpage



Monday 22 June 2015

FE Week: New 'data driven' BIS Vet research centre hits the spot

The new aims and role of the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) has become clearer since a consultation event this month, as Andrew Morris explains.
The new Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER), funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) was the focus of attention at a major gathering of college leaders and researchers this month. Directed by Professor Sandra McNally of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, the new research centre will be developing much needed evidence aimed at improving the delivery of vocational programmes and involvement of employers. A clearer picture of routes to employment and better information about their value should be the result.

This article was published by FE Week on June 22, 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) webpage



Wednesday 03 June 2015

CVER News: CVER at the LSRN Workshop

Sandra McNally introduced the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) at the Learning and Skills Research Network (LSRN) Strategic Workshop held in London on June 3rd 2015. The Network brings together those interested in research on vocational education and training (VET) and is an excellent platform for networking between practitioners, researchers and policy makers. The workshop was an opportunity to learn about the work of the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning and the Education Training Foundation (a presentation was given by Richard Atkins, Principal at Exeter College, and Jenny Williams, Director of Vocational Education and Training, ETF).

During the discussion following Sandra's presentation, several priorities for CVER were highlighted by participants. These include the following:
  • The need to get a better understanding of the VET sector in England as a whole, describing the different actors that are involved (the individuals that participate, the institutions that provide training and the employers who engage staff in training) and the different paths taken by learners.
  • The need to look beyond earnings when measuring success of vocational education and training, for instance by evaluating the impact of VET on social mobility and wellbeing more generally.
  • Understanding the role employers might play in informing research and the importance of gaining a better understanding of the benefits of VET to employers and society at large. Such research is necessary in order to be able to get more firms interested in engaging in training and hiring apprentices.
Data quality and completeness were a concern to many participants, and strategies to overcome those limitations were discussed. CVER is pursuing a three year research agenda, which is scrutinised by our Steering Group, and is a dynamic process. Events like the LSRN Strategic Workshop enable us to meet practitioners and VET researchers of other disciplines, which in turn feeds back into the design of our research programme. It can also lead to interesting partnerships to trial and evaluate policy interventions that can only be implemented with the help of other organisations. We are very happy to receive comments and suggestions on our activities and research, which can be sent to cver@lse.ac.uk.



Friday 17 April 2015

The Conversation: Manifesto Check: the Liberal Democrat's top policies

Article by Ian Preston, Andrew Street, Claudia Hupkau, David Chivers, Peter Beresford and Simon Burgess
The Conversation's Manifesto Check, where academics subject each party's election manifesto to unbiased, expert scrutiny. Here is what our experts had to say about the Liberal Democrats' top policies.

Claudia Hupkau, Research Associate at the LSE
The Liberal Democrats have announced their vision for skills policy over the next parliament in their election manifesto. The proposals mainly focus on increasing the number of apprenticeships, and on the future funding for the skills sector.

This article was published in The Conversation on April 17, 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage




Thursday 16 April 2015

The Conversation: Manifesto Check: Conservatives hold the course with schools plan

Article by Sandra McNally
The Conservative Party manifesto makes the following commitments in the area of school-age education:

    •A good primary school place for your child with zero tolerance for failure.
    •Turn every failing and coasting secondary school into an academy and deliver free schools for parents and communities that want them.
    •Help teachers to make Britain the best country in the world for developing maths, engineering, science and computing skills.

The party's ''plan of action'' revolves around the curriculum, school structures (academies and free schools), funding and teachers.

This article was published by The Conversation on April 16, 2015
Link to article here

Related publications
'Schools: the evidence on academies, resources and pupil performance', Sandra McNally, CEP 2015 Election Analyses Series, March 2015
Link to policy briefing here

Related video/podcast
'School Spending'
Spending on schools needs to be protected - in real terms - as research shows that spending matters for a child's education. Sandra McNally interviewed.
View video here

Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Centre for Vocational Education Research webpage



Wednesday 15 April 2015

The Conversation: Manifesto Check: Lib Dems commit to skills, but some policies miss the mark

Article by Claudia Hupkau
The Conversation's Manifesto Check deploys academic expertise to scrutinise the parties' plans.
The Liberal Democrats have announced their vision for skills policy over the next parliament in their election manifesto. The proposals mainly focus on increasing the number of apprenticeships, and on the future funding for the skills sector.

This article was posted online by The Conversation on April 15, 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage




Wednesday 15 April 2015

The Conversation: Manifesto Check: Conservatives fudge the numbers on apprenticeships

Article by Hilary Steedman
Welcome to The Conversation's Manifesto Check, where academics from across the UK subject each party's manifesto to unbiased, expert scrutiny.
The Conservative manifesto skates over some uncomfortable truths about the development of apprenticeship during their last five years in office. True, as stated in the manifesto, 2.2 million new apprenticeships (apprenticeship starts) were registered between 2009/10 and 2013/14. However, of those starting an apprenticeship in this period, 850,000 were adults aged 25 or over.

This article was posted by The Conversation on April 15, 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Hilary Steedman webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Hilary Steedman CEP publications webpage



Tuesday 14 April 2015

The Conversation: Manifesto Check: the Conservatives' top policies

Article by Andrew Street, Catherine Harris , Hilary Steedman , Iain Clacher, Sandra McNally, Susan Milner and William Tayler

The Conversation's Manifesto Check, where academics subject each party's election manifesto to unbiased, expert scrutiny. Here is what our experts had to say about the Conservative's top policies.

Hilary Steedman, Senior Research Associate at London School of Economics and Political Science

The Conservatives' manifesto skates over some uncomfortable truths about the development of apprenticeship during their last five years in office. True, as stated in the manifesto, 2.2 million new apprenticeships (apprenticeship starts) were registered between 2009/10 and 2013/14. However, of those starting an apprenticeship in this period, 850,000 were adults aged 25 or over.

In fact, the coalition government presided over and encouraged a huge increase in adult apprenticeships while numbers of 16-18 year olds in apprenticeship barely changed year on year. Most of those on adult apprenticeships were already in employment and a House of Commons Select Committeefound that many adult apprenticeships offered poor value for money. It is, therefore, depressing to see a bland promise of apprenticeship numbers trumpeted in the manifesto - 3 million over the next five years - with no preference for young people and no commitment to higher quality.

Read more here.

Sandra McNally, Research Associate at London School of Economics and Political Science

On the curriculum, the Conservatives emphasise learning of the basic skills of literacy and numeracy in primary schools, and in secondary schools (where this fails). They are right to prioritise these areas. Inadequate literacy and numeracy is a problem for about a fifth of the adult population, and those aged 16-24 perform worse than those aged 55-65 (unlike in most other countries). Partly as a result, establishing basic literacy and numeracy leads to a high earnings return in later life.

Whether or not changing the curriculum will actually improve in these basic skills is another matter.

Read more here.

This article was published in The Conversation on 14 April, 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Hilary Steedman webpage
Sandra McNally webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
CVER website




Monday 13 April 2015

The Conversation: Manifesto Check: Labour's top policies

Article by Maria Goddard, Anand Menon, Christine Merrell, Claudia Hupkau, Hilary Steedman, Ian Preston, Jonathan Perraton and Steve Higgins
Welcome to The Conversation's Manifesto Check, where academics subject each party's election manifesto to unbiased, expert scrutiny. Here is what our experts had to say about Labour's top policies. Follow the links for further analysis.

Hilary Steedman, Senior Research Associate at London School of Economics and Political Science
Labour's election manifesto promises four initiatives in the area of skills and apprenticeships; the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, the Apprenticeship Guarantee, the Youth Allowance, and the Technical Baccalaureate. It is not clear whether the party's priority is to cut the benefits bill and take young people off the unemployment register, or to ensure that all young people gain the skills and experience they need to make the transition to a job with a future. Ultimately, Labour's skills policy is a disappointing muddle.

Claudia Hupkau, Research Associate at London School of Economics and Political Science
In its manifesto, Labour proposes a Technical Baccalaureate - but actually, this already exists. It was announced in 2013 by the Department for Education and then-Skills Minister Mathew Hancock. But rather than being a separate qualification it was designed as a measure to use in performance tables.

Related links
Hilary Steedman webpage
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Hilary Steedman CEP publications webpage



Monday 13 April 2015

The Conversation: Manifesto Check: 'Labour's skills policy is a disappointing muddle'

Article by Hilary Steedman and Claudia Hupkau

Hilary Steedman, London School of Economics and Political Science
Labour's election manifesto promises four initiatives in the area of skills and apprenticeships; the Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, the Apprenticeship Guarantee, the Youth Allowance, and the Technical Baccalaureate. It is not clear whether the party's priority is to cut the benefits bill and take young people off the unemployment register, or to ensure that all young people gain the skills and experience they need to make the transition to a job with a future. Ultimately, Labour's skills policy is a disappointing muddle.

Claudia Hupkau, Research Associate at London School of Economics and Political Science
In its manifesto, Labour proposes a Technical Baccalaureate - but actually, this already exists. It was announced in 2013 by the Department for Education and then-Skills Minister Mathew Hancock. But rather than being a separate qualification it was designed as a measure to use in performance tables.

This article was posted online by The Conversation on April 13, 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Hilary Steedman webpage
Claudia Hupkau webpage
Education and Skills Programme webpage
Hilary Steedman CEP publications webpage



Monday 30 March 2015

FE Week: Election questions from across the FE and skills sector

As the election period officially begins FE Week spoke to figures across the sector to ask them what three FE and skills questions they'd like answered by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the run up to the general election on May 7 - as well as a bonus question on a subject of their choice.

Dr Sandra McNally, director of the Centre for Vocational Education Research at the London School of Economics:

What three FE and skills questions would you like politicians to answer before the election?
  • By how much would you cut the adult skills' budget?
  • What measures will you introduce to improve basic skills in the working age population?
  • How do you think the quality of apprenticeship programmes should be monitored?
What else?
  • What measures would you take to improve UK productivity?
Related links
Sandra McNally webpage
CVER website




Tuesday 24 March 2015

CVER Event: Launch of the Centre for Vocational Education Research

Speakers:
  • Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills & Equalities
  • Frank Bowley, Deputy Director for Skills Policy & Analysis, BIS
  • Professor The Baroness Wolf of Dulwich CBE, King's College London
  • John Van Reenen, Director, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE
  • Sandra McNally, Director, Centre for Vocational Education Research, LSE, and University of Surrey
32L 1.04, 1st Floor Conference Room, LSE, 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH

To attend, RSVP to Jo Cantlay, email j.m.cantlay@lse.ac.uk




Tuesday 24 March 2015

FE Week: London School of Economics to host new Centre for Vocational Education Research

A new £3m project aimed at researching new ideas for FE will be based at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Skills Minister Nick Boles will today announce that a new Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) will be led by Dr Sandra McNally from the LSE and based at its Centre for Economic Performance.

This article was published in FE Week on 24 March 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Profile of Sandra McNally in FE Week
'New vocational research centre 'won't clash' with Education and Training Foundation, FE Week
Sandra McNally webpage
CVER website




Tuesday 24 March 2015

FE Week: London School of Economics to host new Centre for Vocational Education Research

A new £3m project aimed at researching new ideas for FE will be based at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Skills Minister Nick Boles will today announce that a new Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) will be led by Dr Sandra McNally from the LSE and based at its Centre for Economic Performance.

This article was published in FE Week on 24 March 2015
Link to article here

Related links
Profile of Sandra McNally in FE Week
'New vocational research centre 'won't clash' with Education and Training Foundation, FE Week
Sandra McNally webpage
CVER website