The three biggest headlines of the week
315,000 pupils miss class in the first week of term because of COVID.
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State school teachers report higher staff absences than private school peers.
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Study finds that parents in England feel 'disempowered' by school choice.
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View all this week's education news headlines
Policy news in brief (compiled by Steve Besley)

Staff absences. The Sutton Trust and Teacher Tapp reported on trends in Covid-related staff absences as the new term got under way, highlighting differences by region with for example schools in the NW hit the hardest, as well differences between school types with state schools, especially the most deprived, harder hit than private schools.
Coping with recovery: Part 1. The government published interim findings from its commissioned report into how schools were coping with education recovery, looking in this first instance at the 2020/21 academic year. The ‘innovative’ curriculum and pastoral responses adopted by many were noted, but it highlighted the continuing need for funding, support and a ‘return to normality’ where possible.
School improvement grant. The government responded to its autumn 2021 consultation on removing the current council grant for school improvement in favour of top slicing from school budgets, confirming it will now go ahead with the proposals in the coming financial year despite the many critical responses.


The BTEC route. Researchers at UCL and Oxford Brookes examined differences in higher education outcomes between BTEC and A level students, finding that while more of the latter tend to stay the course and secure higher degrees, many BTEC students equally achieve high degrees, but that low module programme scores often act as a factor in limiting success.
T level progression. FE Week reported that many universities are stalling on accepting T level students for university admissions with elite universities suggesting they need more time for the qualifications to become established.


Research Bureaucracy. Professor Adam Tickell, who was appointed by the government last year to look into the bureaucracy around research, published an interim report highlighting the key issues identified so far and grouped under six headings including the application process; assurance reporting and monitoring; and in-grant management. 
International studentsUCAS reported on its research into international students and what attracts/detracts from their wish to study in the UK, finding academic reputation and welcoming atmosphere big draws, but a lack of information on funding, accommodation and employment options drawbacks. 
Student EngagementJISC and Emerge Education offered a range of insights and tips in a new report on using AI and other technological solutions to enhance student engagement, setting out a number of steps that could be used to deliver progress.


UK labour market. The Migration Observatory published its latest briefing on migrants in the UK labour market indicating that as of Quarter 3 last year, they constituted 18% of the employed population largely in sectors like hospitality, transport, and ICT.
Global Risks. The World Economic Forum published its latest hefty Global Risks Report pointing to vaccine inequality and uneven economic recovery as major global risks with others, including technological risks, international risks and risks to the planet big concerns as well.
Local council finances. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IfS) examined the financial impact of the pandemic on councils last year in a new commissioned report, pointing to a varied picture with a fall in income for some but reported higher spending on non-education services for others, indicating a need to rethink allocations for any future crises.

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Read Steve's complete education policy news for this week
Research, reports and studies published this week
FFT Education Datalab: Briefing re patterns in pupil absence - based on evidence from last term.
Sutton Trust and Teacher Tapp: State schools twice as likely as private schools to report high staff absences due to COVID.

FFT Education Datalab: Inspection has become tougher for primary schools (analysis of Ofsted's monthly management information update).
Social Market Foundation: New research has found that policies to increase school choice have not given parents a greater sense of control over their children's education.
FFT Education Datalab: An analysis of publicly available data on students in state-funded schools aged 16-18 who completed A-Levels in 2021.
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In Parliament
  • Education Committee meeting (Tuesday, 18 January).
  • Professional Qualifications Bill debate (Tuesday/Thursday, 18/20 January).
  • Work and Pensions Committee session on ‘Children in Poverty’ (Wednesday, 19 January).
  • Publication of stats on skills shortages in DCMS sectors (Thursday, 20 January).
Upcoming conferences, webinars and CPD opportunities
Inside Government: Understanding School Admissions and Appeals (18 January - one-day online course). This event qualifies for a 20% EdCentral reader discount.

Bett 2022 - 19-21 January at the ExCeL

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Facts of the day
  1. On this day in 1773 Captain Cook's Resolution was the first ship to cross the Antarctic Circle.
  2. On this day in 1912 Captain Robert Scott reached the South Pole, to discover his rival, Roald Amundsen, had got there first.
  3. On this day in 1983 the BBC introduced breakfast television. 
  1. On this day in 1882 and 1884 respectively, children's authors A A Milne and Arthur Ransome, were born.
  2. On this day in 1911 the first aircraft to land on a ship touched down on the cruiser USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco harbour.
  3. On this day in 1919 the Versailles Peace Conference opened.
  1. On this day in 1915 in the first air raid on Britain, a German Zeppelin crossed the Norfolk coast and bombed Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn.
  2. On this day in 1937 aviator Howard Hughes set a new record by flying from Los Angeles to New York in 7 hours and 28 minutes.
  3. On this day in 1966 Indira Gandhi became India's first female prime minister.
  1. On this day in 1972 unemployment in the UK rose above one million for the first time since the 1930s.
  2. On this day in 1981 Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States of America.
  3. On this day in 1987 Terry Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury's special envoy in Lebanon, was kidnapped in Beirut.
  1. On this day in 1924 Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov), Russian revolutionary, Died at Gorki, Moscow, aged 53.
  2. On this day in 1954 the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, was launched.
  3. On this day in 1976 Concorde made its inaugural commercial flight, from London to Bahrain in 3 hours 37 minutes.
  1. On this day in 1771 Spain ceded the Falkland islands to Britain.
  2. On this day in 1901 Queen Victoria, Britain's monarch since 1837, died.
  3. On this day in 1973 the US Supreme Court legalises most abortions (Roe Vs Wade).
  1. On this day in 1552 the second version of the Book of Common Prayer became mandatory in England.
  2. On this day in 1570 the Early of Moray, regent of Scotland was assassinated, leading to civil war breaking out.
  3. On this day in 1859 the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii began an eruption that lasted 300 days.
Awareness days from around the world

Veganuary, Dry January, Love Your Liver Month, Big Schools Birdwatch, National Blood Donor Month, National Hot Tea Month.
National Hobby Month, National Mentoring Month, National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, National Slow Cooking Month, National Soup Month, National Sunday Supper Month, 
National Braille Literacy Month, Walk your Dog Month, Clean up Your Computer Month, International Brainteaser Month, Celebration of Life Month, Get a Balanced Life Month, International Creativity Month.

Big Energy Saving Week (UK), Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (UK), Hunt for Happiness Week (International), National Health Weight Week (International), No Name-Calling Week (International), International Hoof Care Week (International).

Brew Monday (UK), Blue Monday (International), Tu B'Shevat (International), Ditch New Year's Resolution Day (US), Martin Luther King  Jr. Day (US), Benjamin Franklin Day (US), National Bootleggers' Day (US), National Hot Buttered Rum Day (US).

National Winnie The Pooh Day (International), National Thesaurus Day (International), Mahayana New Year (International), Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (International), National Peking Duck Day (US), National Gourmet Coffee Day (US). 

National  Popcorn Day (US), Museum Selfie Day (International), Tenderness Toward Existence Day (International), World Quark Day (International).

Spring School Census Day (UK), International Day of Acceptance, Women's Healthy Weight Day (International), Take a Walk Outdoors Day (International), Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti (International), National Cheese Lovers' Day (International), National Disc Jockey Day (International), National Buttercrunch Day (US), Get to Know Your Customers Day (US).

International Sweatpants Day, Playdate Day (US), One-Liners Day (US), National Hugging Day (International), Squirrel Appreciation Day (International), National Granola Bar Day (US), National Cheesy Socks Day (US).

Celebration of Life Day (International), National Sanctity of Life Day (US), Roe vs. Wade Day (US),  National Blonde Brownie Day (US), National Answer Your Cat's Questions Day (US), National Polka Dot Day (US), .

National Handwriting Day (UK), National Reading Day (US), National Pie Day (US), Measure Your Feet Day (US).
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