The Week, 9 September 2016

9 September 2016

This morning, the Prime Minister set out plans for school reform. She confirmed that the Government will press ahead with the creation of new grammar schools. Analysis by Reform demonstrates that selection gives the illusion of choice, but in reality leads to unequal access to the best schools.

Eleonora Harwich, Researcher

Reformer

NHS.uk will be a one-stop NHS website where patients can book appointments, order prescriptions and access medical advice.

Reactionary

Theresa May for announcing that comprehensive schools will be able to apply to start selecting pupils based on academic ability, thereby converting to grammars, and allowing existing grammar schools to expand.

Good week for …

Better measuring crime

On Saturday, the Economist reported that at least five police forces have put in place a more complex and accurate measure of crime (the Cambridge Crime Harm Index), allowing them to better target interventions.

Curbing tax avoidance

On Monday, HM Revenue and Customs reported having collected £3 billion by forcing those under investigation for tax avoidance to pay disputed tax immediately.

Encouraging triage in general practice

On Tuesday, The Times reported the results from a study showing that about 600,000 GP appointments annually are made by people seeking dental care, costing the NHS more than £26 million a year.

Digital health

On Wednesday, the Department for Health announced its plans to invest to achieve digital excellence in the NHS.

Bad week for …

The Department for Education and apprenticeships

On Tuesday, the National Audit Office published a report stating that the Department for Education does not know how it will transform the increase in the number of apprenticeships into productivity improvements.

Prisoner living conditions

On Wednesday, the BBC reported that some prisoners are forced to eat meals near toilets in their cells because of a lack of staff and dining facilities.

Academies

Also on Wednesday, new research showed that after three years, improvements in attainment flattened to zero for sponsored academies. In addition, it found that the initial improvements in attainment in the year prior to and after becoming a sponsored academy cannot be attributed to the any actions taken by sponsors.

Quotes

“People who peddle tax avoidance schemes deprive public services of vital tax revenue and the Government is determined to make sure they pay. The vast majority of their schemes don’t work and can land their users in court facing large tax bills and other costs.”

Attorney General Jeremy Wright, speech to the Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime, Monday 5 September 2016

“For every job lost through automation in the UK, claim the World Economic Forum, almost three new ones will be created. Computers might have abolished the need for every company to have a “typing pool” – but they’ve created a whole service industry of IT support staff and analysts that cannot be automated. Those predictions from the sixties that automation would give us all three-day working weeks and free up endless leisure time could not have been less accurate. Instead, many of us are chained to our jobs long after official working hours by the smartphone.

But to take advantage of this brave new world we will need to learn new skills – and fast. The new ambitious computing curriculum introduced by Michael Gove into state schools – including algorithms, logic and binary data – is welcome, as are the new lessons in coding for primary school children. But 30 per cent of computer science teachers needed to provide the lessons have not yet been recruited. Many of those already in place lack the skills to teach the more demanding curriculum.”

Marc Boxser in The Telegraph, Thursday 8 September 2016

Reform‘s week

On Wednesday, Andrew Haldenby predicted that the future junior doctors strikes would be cancelled due to a lack of public support, appearing on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC television and radio.

On Thursday, Reform published Smart campuses: how big data will transform higher education. The paper, in partnership with Accenture, argues that learning analytics will prove an invaluable tool to universities in the future, and that policy should be implemented to encourage its wider adoption.

Following the launch, Emilie Sundorph, Researcher at Reform, wrote articles for Times Higher Education and Civil Service World, arguing that learning analytics has potential not only to improve universities, but also to help policymakers when implementing the Teaching Excellence Framework.

On Friday, the Economist quoted Reform research on NHS funding as part of a major article on the future of the Service.

The Reformer blog

On Tuesday, Andrew Haldenby argued in favour of NHS reform and against the return of selective education in his monthly vlog.

On Thursday, Emilie Sundorph, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog about how insights from learning analytics will improve learning at universities as well as how we measure their performance.

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