EDSK is an independent non-partisan ‘think tank’ that designs new and better ways of giving every learner the chance to succeed.
In case you hadn’t spotted it, EDSK is short for ‘Education and Skills’. We are a not-for-profit organisation. No dividends and no shareholders – it’s just us investing as much time, money and effort as we can into our work.
Needless to say, ‘learners’ is a very broad term. Primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, apprenticeship providers and universities are all educating people of different ages and abilities, each of whom come with their own goals and aspirations.
Our main focus is publishing reports that describe the barriers we think are preventing learners from reaching their full potential as well as discussing how these issues should be resolved – either by government or by those institutions such as schools, colleges and universities who support learners every day.
Whichever topic or policy area we are investigating, our priority is always to produce better outcomes for learners while also ensuring that the greatest support is given to the most disadvantaged members of society.
Writing these reports is never easy, and is sometimes controversial. We’re ok with that. Ultimately, we believe that the more thoughtful and sensible ideas that think tanks like us create, the better our education and skills system will become. Change is never a quick process, but the prize is worth chasing all the same.
Colleges need a clearer identity and more investment to thrive say @EDSKthinktank
With a White Paper on the future of the Further Education (FE) sector due this autumn, a new report from education think tank EDSK finds that colleges in England have been hampered by a lack of a clear purpose as well as budget cuts stretching back years, if not decades.
On the day that students around the country confirm their university choices for this autumn, a new report from education think tank @EDSKthinktank calls on the government to strip universities of their control over the admissions system. The report called ‘Admitting mistakes’ recommends that the Department for Education and the Office for Students work together to implement a new admissions process because the current system is designed to suit the interests of universities, not students. The report identifies several flaws in the way that the university admissions system operates at present. For example, despite ‘predicted grades’ being a central feature of the current admissions process, only 21 per cent of applicants met or exceeded their predicted grades last year. In addition, high-achieving students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be under-predicted than other students. The report also raises concerns about whether universities are acting responsibly with regards to admissions practices, particularly in relation to ‘unconditional offers’. Last year, 38% of applicants received such an offer – up from 1% in 2013. Almost two-thirds of universities now use unconditional offers to attract students, with some handing out these offers to as many as 85% of applicants. This growth has occurred despite universities knowing that applicants holding an unconditional offer are far more likely to underperform in their school and college examinations. Furthermore, the impact of the admissions system on social mobility is inescapable. On every available measure, applicants from the most privileged backgrounds dominate entry to the most selective institutions. This is driven by a range of factors such as the refusal of some universities and faculties to use ‘contextual admissions’ and also the enormous scope for wealthy parents and schools to manipulate the admissions process in their favour by investing in tutoring for personal statements, entrance exams and interviews. The report concludes that a new approach is needed to create an admissions system that is built on fairness, transparency and equity.
“Today we bundle a number of different activities into the apprenticeship programme, unnecessarily complicating the system, diluting the brand, reducing value for money, and at times detracting apprenticeships… from their core purpose and from where they can make the greatest impact”, said Doug Richard in his government-commissioned review of apprenticeships in 2012.
Why the apprenticeship #levy is broken and how to fix it
With the apprenticeships programme set to overspend by hundreds of millions of pounds in 2020, a new report from education think tank EDSK shows that employers and universities are mis-labelling training courses as ‘apprenticeships’ as they compete to use up the funding raised by the apprenticeship levy.