Three of the week's headlines ...
Hunt's £4bn childcare boost welcomed but fears remain for struggling sector
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UK university staff make breakthrough in strike dispute with employers
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Teachers' strikes in England paused for talks
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Three pieces of policy news - by phase
Follow this link to view the full version of Steve Besley's popular policy round-up - including an overview of all the important stories, his top headlines of the week, tweets and posts of note, the most memorable quotes, not-to-be-missed statistics and what to look out for next week.
As your starter for ten, we've chosen three items from each phase below ...

Budget speech. The Chancellor hailed ‘a British economy that is proving the doubters wrong’ as he set out a plan for growth under the four pillars (Enterprise, Employment, Education and Everywhere) of the government’s current growth strategy with headline measures targeted at childcare, workforce participation, pension allowances, the cost-of-living and levelling up.
Budget assessment. The Resolution Foundation set out its assessment of the Spring Budget suggesting it was ‘a much bigger affair than many had expected’ with those announcements on childcare and encouraging more people to work, but pointing to the fact that the economy remains “stuck in a deep funk,” we’ve had a disastrous decade for living standards, and taxes are on track to hit a 70 yr high by 2027/28.
Economic inactivity. The Centre for Policy Studies offered its thoughts on the current issue of economic inactivity ahead of the Budget, suggesting in a new report that while much of the focus has been on older people retiring early, a deeper concern was the rise in economic inactivity among the 18-24 age group particularly among males much of it driven by concerns about mental health, calling accordingly for a commission to look in more detail at some of the issues and possible solutions.

Spring Budget 2023. The Chancellor used his Spring Budget to commit to multi-agency support for vulnerable children in alternative provision and to announce a major package of support for childcare that would see schools offering ‘wraparound’ provision at the start and end of the day from 2026, but added nothing on teacher recruitment and retention or on settling the current wave of teacher strikes to the disappointment of many.
School closures. The government published provisional data on the number of schools closed because of strike action this week, with 47% of schools overall estimated to be fully open, 47% open but with restricted attendance and 6% closed, broadly the same on both days of action and in terms of the regional picture, London having the most closed and the East Midlands region the most fully open.
Industrial action. The NEU issued a statement about this week’s industrial action suggesting it had received wide support and calling on the government to delay no further in holding formal talks on settling issues of pay, workloads and recruitment.

Spring Budget 2023. The Chancellor used his Spring Budget Statement to make a number of announcements for the FE sector, including a new accelerated skills returnership programme to help greater workforce participation, as well as to extend devolution deals, commit to T levels and Skills Boot Camps and provide language courses under the Ukraine Scheme but disappointed many by failing to commit to additional investment.
Ofsted on apprenticeships. Amanda Spielman, Ofsted chief inspector, addressed FE Week’s Annual Apprenticeship Conference where she praised the work of many apprenticeship providers and highlighted the importance of the overall educational experience for many apprentices but pointed to continuing issues in the quality of some new providers, English and maths performance, and the need to raise achievement rates
VTQ results 2023. Ofqual added further details to its planned arrangements for ensuring ‘complete and correct’ L3 vocational and technical qualification (VTQ) results are issued this year following some issues last year, publishing a list of three completion dates and listing some additional measures such as being clear about who designated officers in schools and colleges were in case of emergency.

Spring Budget 2023 The Chancellor positioned universities as key partners in the new Investment Zones announced in the Budget while announcing support for new technologies including a new AI Research Resource but had little to say on support for students or on the future of the Horizon programme in setting out his Spring Budget.
Cost-of-living. Russell Group universities called on the government to increase student maintenance loans in line with inflation as a survey from member Student Unions revealed just over half of students surveyed were struggling financially with 18% considering dropping out.
Horizon delays. The Times Higher reported on concerns about the impact of delays and uncertainties around the UK’s potential membership of the EU’s Horizon programme, suggesting that ‘incomprehensible dithering’ could cost British science millions of pounds a day.
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Parliament and elsewhere
World Education Summit (Monday 20 March – Thursday 23 March).
Education Committee evidence session on support for childcare and the early years (Tuesday 21 March).
Westminster Hall debate on specialist workforce for children with special needs and disabilities (Wednesday 22 March).
Policy Exchange host a presentation by Nick Gibb MP on ‘A Vision for Education’ (Wednesday 22 March).
Skills and Employability Summit (Wednesday 22 March).
Publication of Ofqual’s Annual Qualifications Market Report (Thursday 23 March).
Second Reading of the Free School Meals (Primary Schools) Private Member’s Bill (Friday 24 March).
Events and CPD opportunities
Tuesday 21 March: Next steps for literacy and numeracy education in England | Westminster Forum Projects (online event)
Tuesday 21 March: Black Leadership Group Conference: Make the path by walking it | Black Leadership Group (online event)
Tuesday 21 March: AoC College Higher Education Conference 2023 | Association of Colleges (in-person event)
Tuesday 21 March: How to plan for the future amid global enrolment swings and disruptive flows | The PIE (online event)
Wednesday 22 March: Growing and Developing a Trust - London | Optimus Education (in-person event)
Wednesday 22 March: Shifting from programme-centric to person-centric marketing: How to build lifelong relationships from day 1 | The PIE (online event)
Thursday 23 March: Next steps for child protection in England | Westminster Forum Projects (online event)
Thursday 23 March: Implementing a Whole School Approach to Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing | Inside Government (online event)
Thursday 23 March: AoC Sustainability and Green Skills Conference 2023 | Association of Colleges (online event)
Saturday 25 March: researchEd Birmingham | researchEd (in-person event)

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Three interesting daily facts
On this day in 1815 Napoleon entered Paris after his escape from Elba and began his 100-day rule.
On this day in 1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe published her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.
On this day in 1916 Albert Einstein presented his general theory of relativity.
On this day in 1871 journalist Henry Morton Stanley began his famous expedition to Africa.
On this day in 1943 a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler by suicide bomb failed.
On this day in 1963 Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco's Bay closed down.
On this day in 1903 Niagara Falls ran out of water due to a drought.
On this day in 1965 the US confirmed its troops used chemical warfare against the Vietcong.
On this day in 1993 the Intel Corporation produced the first Pentium microprocessor.
On this day in 1743 George Frideric Handel's oratorio 'Messiah' premiered at the Royal Opera House in London.
On this day in 1919 Benito Mussolini founded the Italian Fascist party.
On this day in 1998 James Cameron’s 'Titanic' won 11 Academy Awards.

On this day in 1603 Queen Elizabeth I died after a 44-year reign.
On this day in 1882 Robert Koch discovered the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis and established germ theory.
On this day in 1989 Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska causing one of the worst oil spills in history.
Awareness days from around the world
Endometriosis Awareness Month, National Nutrition Month, National Irish-American Heritage Month, Deep-Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month, Brain Injury Awareness Month, Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Mustache March, National Save Your Vision Month.
National Bed Month, Walk All Over Cancer, Endo The Night, Dechox, Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Brain Tumour Awareness Month, 100 Miles In March For Mind, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Veggie Month..

Week Of Solidarity With The Peoples Struggling Against Racism And Racial Discrimination, National Introverts Week, International launch of Global Money Week, Wellderly Week, National Agriculture Week.

Tick Bite Prevention Week, Debt Awareness Week, The Big Walk and Wheel. 

National Jewel Day, National K9 Veterans Day, National Coconut Torte Day, National Good Samaritan Day, National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day, National Earmuff Day, National Napping Day.
Great British Spring Clean Day.

National Memory Day, National 3-D Day, National Countdown Day, World Down Syndrome Day, National AG Day, National French Bread Day, National California Strawberry Day, National Fragrance Day, National Single Parent Day, National Common Courtesy Day, International Day of Forests, International Race Relations Day, National Day Of Action On Syringe Exchange, National Healthy Fats Day, National Renewable Energy Day, National Rosie The Riveter Day, Race Relations Day, South Africa Human Rights Day, World Poetry Day.
Train It Chooseday.


National West Virginia Day, National Bavarian Crepes Day, National Goof Off Day, Daffodil Day, International Day Of The Seal, World Water Day.

National Tamale Day, National Chia Day, National Melba Toast Day, National Near Miss Day, National Chip And Dip Day, National Puppy Day, South African Liberation Day, World Meteorological Day.
National Day Of Reflection.


National Cocktail Day, National Cheesesteak Day, National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day, Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice, National Adverse Drug Event Awareness Day, World Tuberculosis Day, National Tsunami Awareness Week.

National Skipping Day.
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