Welcome to EDSK

The think tank providing a new perspective on education and skills
OUR MISSION

We design new and better ways for policymakers and educators to help every learner succeed – particularly
those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
OUR RESEARCH AREAS

Primary schools, secondary schools, colleges,
apprenticeships, technical education
and universities.

 

LATEST REPORT FROM EDSK

MAKING PROGRESS
MAKING PROGRESS

NOVEMBER 2021

SATs were introduced in primary schools 30 years ago, yet debates over the importance and usefulness of primary school tests remain as strongly contested as ever. This report investigates the current set of national tests in primary schools to understand if the assessment and accountability system is helping or hindering attempts to improve standards in primary education across England.

VALUE-ABLE LESSONS
VALUE-ABLE LESSONS

JULY 2021

The debate over ‘low value’ Higher Education has reached a stalemate as politicians, policymakers, university leaders and students seem unable to agree on which degrees and institutions should be labelled as ‘low value’. This report explores the merits (or otherwise) of their respective positions to understand whether there is indeed a problem with ‘low value’ HE and, if so, what should be done about it.

POST-QUALIFICATION ADMISSIONS REFORM
POST-QUALIFICATION ADMISSIONS REFORM

MAY 2021

As the Government moves forward with reforming university admissions, their objective should be to create a Post-Qualification Offers (PQO) system based on students choosing universities, not universities choosing students. The full range of proposals in this consultation response from EDSK would allow ministers to scrap predicted grades, end the scourge of ‘unconditional offers’ and promote fairness and transparency for all applicants – particularly those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

RE-ASSESSING THE FUTURE (PART 2)
RE-ASSESSING THE FUTURE (PART 2)

APRIL 2021

A-levels were originally introduced in 1951 to prevent students from specialising too early and only studying a narrow range of subjects. 70 years on, they have failed to fulfil this mission. Even so, the dominance of A-levels has undermined the prestige of applied and technical courses. This report calls for the introduction of a ‘Baccalaureate’ covering academic, applied and technical education to broaden the curriculum and create a level playing field between different pathways for young people.

RE-ASSESSING THE FUTURE (PART 1)
RE-ASSESSING THE FUTURE (PART 1)

JANUARY 2021

GCSEs have been an important part of our education landscape for over three decades, but the unprecedented events of the last year have created a rare opportunity to consider how we can do things better in future. This report concludes that GCSE exams have outlived their useful purpose and should be replaced by low-stakes online assessments at age 15 that act as a ‘staging post’ for pupils as they progress towards the end of secondary education at age 18.

FURTHER CONSIDERATION
FURTHER CONSIDERATION

SEPTEMBER 2020

After spending years, perhaps decades, in the policy shadows, the Further Education (FE) sector in England is finally attracting the attention of policymakers including the ‘Augar Review’ of post-18 education and numerous government ministers. Their commitments are welcome and important – the question now is how they will be delivered in practice. This report outlines a package of reforms that aims to ensure the FE sector is respected, ambitious, responsive and stable.

ADMITTING MISTAKES
ADMITTING MISTAKES

JUNE 2020

This report analyses the three issues that have attracted the most attention in terms of their impact on the fairness, transparency and equity of the university admissions system: the use of predicted grades; the growth of ‘unconditional offers’ from universities; and the barriers facing disadvantaged applicants. It concludes that fundamental changes are needed to make sure that the admissions system works in the interests of students, not universities.

RUNAWAY TRAINING
RUNAWAY TRAINING

JANUARY 2020

In its first full year of operation, the apprenticeship levy raised £2.7 billion and this is expected to rise to £3.4 billion by 2023-24. However, there have been repeated warnings in recent months that the funding pot generated by the levy is about to run out. This report investigates what is happening with the apprenticeship levy and with the apprenticeship system in England more broadly.

TRUST ISSUES
TRUST ISSUES

SEPTEMBER 2019

England now has two sets of state schools that are run separately from one another – local authority (‘maintained’) schools and academies. Inevitably, this has produced a fragmented and incoherent education system, with little sign of improvement on either front. This report analyses the problems being caused by the divide between academies and maintained schools, and calls on the government to set the goal of creating a single state education system made up of different types of schools and school groupings.

A STEP BACCWARD
A STEP BACCWARD

JULY 2019

This report investigates the changes to GCSE entries and outcomes for secondary schools since the ‘English Baccalaureate’ (EBacc) measure was introduced in 2010. The analysis shows that, while subjects included within the EBacc have typically seen their GCSE entries rise, many subjects outside of the EBacc such as Music and Art have experienced significant declines in GCSE entries and are increasingly being taught after school or as optional activities. The report puts forward a set of recommendations for how to address this disparity between subjects.

FREE TO CHOOSE
FREE TO CHOOSE

MAY 2019

This report sets out a new system for funding post-18 education that can deliver better outcomes and significant savings for both students and taxpayers. It recommends that all 18-year-olds are given an ‘individual education budget’ into which the government places up to £20,000, and this money can be spent on either a university degree, college course or apprenticeship. The report also proposes that each learner is given a ‘lifetime loan limit’ of £75,000, which they can use at any time to invest in education and training throughout their career.

REQUIRES IMPROVEMENT
REQUIRES IMPROVEMENT

APRIL 2019

Ofsted occupies an important position in our education landscape, but inspecting over 20,000 state schools is still a considerable undertaking. This inaugural report from EDSK therefore seeks to answer four questions: first, can parents trust the grades given to schools by Ofsted; second, is Ofsted measuring the right things; third, what impact does Ofsted have on teachers and school leaders; and fourth, do Ofsted inspections lead to better schools?

WHAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT EDSK RESEARCH

Mary Curnock Cook pic
Always radical and provocative with original thinking
Mary Curnock Cook
Former Chief Executive, UCAS
Will Hazell pic

Eye popping reading

Will Hazell
Education Correspondent, the i paper
Mary Bousted pic

A meticulous and far-reaching critique

Dr Mary Bousted
Joint General Secretary, National Education Union
Ian Pryce pic

This is what think tanks should do,

produce stuff that provokes and makes you think

Ian Pryce
Chief Executive, Bedford College
Ben Gadsby pic

No one else is doing blue sky thinking in education apart from EDSK

Ben Gadsby
Head of Policy and Research, Impetus
CEPEO pic

Some radical proposals for reform

Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities
Nick Brook pic

Everyone should be interested in what you’ve found

Nick Brook
Deputy General Secretary, National Association of Headteachers
Stephen Tierney pic

Fascinating report …Honest and revealing

Stephen Tierney
Chief Executive Officer of a Multi Academy Trust, Chair of the Headteachers Roundtable
Gill Wyness pic

Exciting report from EDSK

Dr Gill Wyness
Associate Professor, UCL Institute of Education
Teacher Toolkit pic

Think tank common sense

Teacher Toolkit
No.1 education blog in the UK (220k followers on Twitter)
Tom Sherrington pic

A must-read

Tom Sherrington
Consultant, author, speaker and former headteacher

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