What the Queen’s Speech means for Learning and Work

18 May 2016

As expected, a big focus of today’s Queen’s Speech was on Life Chances – section 2 is titled:  “Increasing life chances for the most disadvantaged”. Within this, relevant Bills Learning and Work Institute will be keeping an eye on this year are:  

1) Education for All Bill  –  Big focus on setting foundations for the academisation of schools, however interesting to note its intention to “Deliver the vision that will be set out in the forthcoming Skills Plan through ambitious reform to technical education”. (I would expect this will follow launch of Salisbury Review in July).

2) Higher Education and Research Bill – Big focus on increasing opportunity for people to further their education, increasing access to performance data, improving teaching standards (TEF) as well as promoting choice and competition across the sector. We will be pushing for reforms to improve access, particularly to mature students and part time learning. Read our response to the HE White Paper published earlier this week. 

3) Prison and Courts Reform Bill  – focuses on reform of prisons and courts to “give individuals a second chance”. As expected – Governors to be given unprecedented freedom on education and improved infrastructure. Also calls for a new regime of openness across the prison estate – requiring prisons to produce statistics on areas such as prisoner education, reoffending and employment on release. Read our response to the Coates Review of Prison Education also published today. 

4) Children and Social Work Bill  – as well as easing adoption, it will improve opportunities for young people in care in England – a new ‘Care Leavers’ Covenant’ which include provision for Personal Advisers to help children leaving care “make a good start in adult life”.

Under non-legislative measures is mention of a new Life Chances Strategy. This aims to be a comprehensive plan to tackle poverty and the causes of deprivation, including family instability, addiction and debt, as well as introducing new indicators for measuring life chances.  I think this is where the life-time learning policy could to be housed – with a cross over to the new Skills Plan (listed under point one above) which will emerge after the Sainsbury Review reports.