The Week, 9 December 2016

9 December 2016

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed the performance of UK 15-year-olds in science, maths and reading tests has not changed significantly since 2006, when PISA began.

Kate Laycock, Researcher

Reformer of the week

The Department of Health this week set out plans to enable people to train to become a graduate registered nurse through an apprentice route. The programme will start in September 2017.

Good week for…

Rail links

On Tuesday, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, announced plans to encourage Network Rail and train companies to work more closely to manage track problems.

Performance appraisal

On Wednesday, the Cabinet Office revealed it would give departments more flexibility over performance appraisal for civil servants.

Social segregation in grammar schools

On Friday, the Sutton Trust found children from families with below-average incomes are significantly underrepresented in grammar schools. PISA reported that internationally there is little association between the use of academic selection and the proportion of disadvantaged pupils who manage to succeed academically.

Bad week for…

Utilising pharmacies

On Monday, Public Health England reported that 74 per cent of pharmacy teams feel that pharmacy services are being underutilised.

Pension equality

On Thursday, the OECD revealed the disparity between public and private sector pensions in the UK is larger than ever.

Provision for retirement

Also on Thursday, the OECD warned that recent pension reforms that allowed individuals to withdraw their pension, rather than investing in annuities, could lead to some outliving their savings.

Quotes of the week

“We need to change the relationship between the track and train operators. Under rail privatisation, the two were split into separate organisations. But the railway of the mid-1990s is very different to that of today.”

“Train companies take the blame for the problems of Network Rail – which owns and manages most of the track in the country. But Network Rail has little or no contact with passengers, and so has had little reason to focus on the best possible customer service.”

Chris Grayling MP, writing in the Telegraph on Tuesday

“In terms of aligning public and private sector pensions the UK has fallen behind other countries which have made steps to close the gap. The UK now needs to take action to solve this legacy issue. Whether this means cutting public sector benefits or improving defined contribution pensions available to private sector workers will be a political decision.”

Pablo Antolin, pensions expert at Hargreaves Lansdown, speaking on Thursday

Reform’s week

Events

On Wednesday, Reform convened a policy roundtable about what can be learned from the early devolved employment support pilots, led by Kris Krasnowski, Area Director, London and East, Cities and Local Growth Unit, (DCLG/BEIS Joint Unit) and former Director, Central London Forward; and Phil Martin, Deputy Director, Labour Market Interventions Strategy Division, Department for Work and Pensions.

Also on Wednesday, Reform convened a policy dinner on UK policy and politics after Brexit, with the opening remarks delivered by The Rt Hon Lord Jonathan Hill of Oareford CBE, Former European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union.

The Reformer blog

On Monday, Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform, wrote a blog about ideas generated in a Reform discussion about the Government’s Efficiency Review, such as the need for a change in culture.

On Tuesday, Dr E Kedgley, Clinical Fellow in London, wrote a blog for the Views from the Frontline series, where she argued insufficient attention is given to “end of life” discussions and that a more pre-emptive approach is needed.

On Wednesday, Emilie Sundorph, Researcher at Reform, wrote the first in a series of interactive blogs documenting Reform research into which type of school structure in England achieves the best value for money. In this first blog, she set out why and how the research was initiated.

On Friday, Eleonora Harwich, Researcher at Reform, wrote the second interactive blog in the schools value for money series, where she described the technique Reform used to compare similar schools with different structures.

Also on Friday, Andrew Haldenby described a “pro-reform” Autumn Statement in his monthly vlog.

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