Education policy learning begins at home, says new report

The four nations of the UK have much to learn from each other when it comes to further education (FE), says a report published today (21 September 2018). Education charity the Edge Foundation, the Department for Education and City & Guilds funded the research by UCL Institute of Education, which compared FE and skills education between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

FE and Skills Across the Four Countries of the UK, directed by Professors Ann Hodgson and Ken Spours, highlights successful initiatives in each nation which it suggests each of the others could learn from. Professor Hodgson commented:

‘What this fascinating seminar series highlighted was that in the area of FE and skills there appears to be a greater convergence of policy across the four countries of the UK than perhaps has been the case in the past and certainly common challenges to be addressed.  This suggests a fertile territory for continued dialogue and real possibilities for policy learning.’

Olly Newton, Director of Research and Policy at the Edge Foundation, commented:

‘We often tend to look abroad for solutions and ideas, but lots of good work is happening on the doorstep which we can learn from. That’s not to say that Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy can be transplanted in its entirety to the say, the south west of England, but there is opportunity for policy makers in the British Parliament to see how it works, why it works and if it might work in a different geo-economic environment.’

The report includes case study examples of policy such as the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in England; the introduction of Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs) in Scotland; the Welsh Government’s five-year plan to see a minimum of 100,000 Apprenticeships by the end of the current Assembly term; Northern Ireland’s FE Means Business Strategy as a driver for social cohesion.

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