FEdS BUSINESS FORUM on LIFELONG LEARNING
BRIEFING FOR JANUARY 2009
FEdS Consultancy is a small, specialist company working with significant networks
of people and organisations, which we create across the three sectors of business,
government and education. Prime amongst these networks is the FEdS Business
Forum on Lifelong Learning.
This was established in 1996 and has over 50 national and multi-national member
organisations, drawn from a wide variety of business sectors.
These Business Forum Briefings are prepared at the beginning of each month for the
Business Forum members. They are sent both electronically and in paper format.
Member organisations may disseminate Briefings as they wish within their
organisations. The Briefings reach some 5,000 people every month.
What drives FEdS in all we do is creating greater understanding between business,
government and education, leading to better policies and practices to support the
development - through both formal and informal learning - of all individuals so that
they can become more effective employees and citizens.
These Briefings seek to keep member companies well informed on the two
areas of interest to them – the world of education with which they engage and
the development of learning practices within companies.
FEdS Consultancy Ltd
147 High Street
Surrey GU7 1AF
Telephone: 01483 427255 Fax: 01483 427266
For the Business Forum ....................................................................... 1
ECONOMY & EMPLOYMENT ....................................................................... 1
SKILLS .......................................................................................................... 2
GOVERNMENT ISSUES ............................................................................... 3
PEOPLE ........................................................................................................ 6
INNOVATION ................................................................................................ 6
INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES .............................................................. 7
NORTHERN IRELAND .................................................................................. 8
SCOTLAND ................................................................................................... 8
Business/Education Issues ................................................................ 10
CURRICULUM & QUALIFICATIONS........................................................... 10
SUBJECT AREAS ....................................................................................... 11
WIDER LEARNING & EDUCATIONAL ISSUES .......................................... 12
HIGHER EDUCATION................................................................................. 14
FURTHER EDUCATION ............................................................................. 16
SCHOOLS ................................................................................................... 17
WORKFORCE ............................................................................................. 18
Corporate Issues ................................................................................. 20
RECRUITMENT .......................................................................................... 20
WORKING CONDITIONS ............................................................................ 21
LEADERSHIP & TALENT MANAGEMENT .................................................. 21
BUSINESS SCHOOLS ................................................................................ 24
For the Business Forum
ECONOMY & EMPLOYMENT
Unemployment in the UK is at its highest level since September 1997,
according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
The employment rate for September to November remains 74.2%.
Unemployment is 6.1%, with 1.92 million people out of work in November.
There were 225,000 redundancies in the three months to November – the
highest figure since comparable records began in 1995. The redundancy
rate among women rose by 2.3 percentage points between January and
September 2008 – almost double the rate of increase for men
There were 530,000 job vacancies in the three months to December – the
lowest figure since comparable records began in 2001.
Unemployment is growing fastest among 18- to 24-year-olds, who constituted
40% of the rise in unemployment in the three months to October. While UK
unemployment remains low by EU standards, the UK rate of unemployment for 16-
24 year olds was 16.1% - above the Euro area average of 15.9%. Studies show that
young long-term unemployed people find it difficult to reconnect with stable career
The eurozone unemployment rate totalled 8% in December, up from 7.9% in
November. Unemployment was highest in Spain, which recorded a 14.4% figure.
The lowest was Netherlands on 2.7%, and Austria at 3.9%.
A poll of recruitment companies showed job appointments and vacancies in
December falling at the fastest rate since the survey began in 1997. But
demand for temporary jobs has proved more resilient.
Business leaders generally welcomed the Treasury announcement that
bringing forward public sector capital spending works would create “as many
as 100,000 new jobs” but weren‟t sure just how „new‟ those jobs would be.
Skills shortages in manufacturing companies across Europe could encourage
more graduates to favour careers in engineering over the financial sector. City
jobs in the UK have dropped by 65% since the end of 2007, and employment
agencies are already reporting increased enquiries from MBA students about
operational jobs. However, there are concerns about European capability when half
of all Chinese students are studying science in high school, compared to – for
example – only one in 10 Swedes.
Graduate teacher training scheme Teach First has seen a 90% increase in
applications and is attracting students who are deferring their financial sector
careers until the economy recovers. Demand is also high from schools, and Teach
First hopes to exceed their 2009 target of 450 placements, helped by an increase in
Skills Secretary John Denham is reported to be working on an internship
scheme for this year‟s graduates, providing up to three months paid work.
Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, gave the go-ahead for a new £35m
Business Start Up programme for the north west in support of what he terms
„industrial activism‟, which requires precise regional knowledge of what is needed
in terms of infrastructure, investment and training. He sees this as the defining role
of the RDAs. Bioscience, green technology, precision engineering and creative
industries will be the key industries.
The UK Commission for Employment & Skills has published its forecast of
employment trends over the next decade1. The downturn may have a delaying
effect but should not alter the overall trend. The focus is on the UK as a whole,
although regional and country analyses are also included.
The increase in the population will help create 2 million additional jobs over
the decade. The majority will be taken by men, who are expected to increase
their share of employment in occupations traditionally dominated by women.
A modest growth in primary industries and utilities and in manufacturing will
be accompanied by a decline in employment as productivity increases.
There will be a modest growth in construction resulting from a strong demand
for major infrastructure projects, with an increase in employment of around
170,000 jobs. Transport & communications, distribution, retailing, hotels and
restaurants will grow rapidly, with employment up by around 0.5 million jobs.
Business services including computing will start to grow after the downturn,
resulting in 1.3m additional jobs. Education and health & social work will
provide the bulk of 0.5 million new jobs in „non marketed services‟.
Occupational structures will change more slowly than previously. There will
be an increase in managerial, senior, professional and assistant professional
occupations. There will be a decrease in administrative and clerical posts,
although this area will still employ over 3 million people in 2017. Skilled
trades and machine and transport operatives will also decrease.
Corporate managers, teaching and research professionals, business and
public services, caring and customer services will all benefit from both strong
growth and high replacement demand due mainly to retirement.
In its review of the Leitch skills agenda2, the Innovation, Universities, Science &
Skills Committee called for a sharper focus on the purpose and outcomes of skills
development; better integration of skills with the UK‟s wider economic development
plans; and more work on reskilling and on SMEs. [FEdS circulated a detailed
briefing note on 26 January.]
In the meantime, the Government has announced:
£140 million to fund an extra 35,000 apprentices in the public and private
sectors, taking apprenticeship funding to just under £1 billion.
£83 million over the next two years to enable 75,000 people to undertake
employment-focused training while they are looking for a job, and carry on
with their course once they get into work.
A £1,000 payment to employers for each long-term unemployed person they
recruit, and a further £1,500 per person for training.
A pilot scheme to provide a £500 grant for parents who take long career
breaks to look after children or sick relatives. The money will be paid into a
skills account to be used for employment-related training.
An extra £35 million through Train to Gain for the car industry.
The TUC‟s report Skills in the Recession calls for the Government to relax its
“16-hour rule”. The rule prevents those who are studying for more than 16 hours a
week from claiming unemployment and housing benefit. It also wants the
government‟s skills strategy to be better linked with industry strategy, with more
emphasis on skills in high-performing sectors.
McDonald‟s hopes to become the UK‟s largest apprenticeship provider by
offering apprenticeships to 6,000 of its 72,000 UK employees this year.
Eventually, all their restaurant-based employees will be given the opportunity to gain
a Level 2 apprenticeship in multi-skilled hospitality. They will be subject to the same
standards, criteria and Ofsted inspections as any other educational establishment.
McDonalds gained the right last year to award their own qualifications.
A roundtable organised by Cisco agreed that employers are still struggling to
fill skills gaps in IT despite the downturn. The sector urgently needs to interest
more young people and women if it is to deal with a “phenomenal shortage” of
talented people trained in cutting-edge technology and within niche skills areas.
„Generic‟ skills being developed by the education system are of minimal use.
The Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) is among eight
institutes calling on the government to set up a professional skills council to
improve the supply of high-level qualifications. They want to streamline
relationships between the 25 sector skills councils (SSCs) and the professional
institutes in order to identify gaps and shortages. Research commissioned by the
group has found the lifetime economic benefit associated with holding professional
qualifications is £81,000, and an additional £71,000 from holding membership of a
As part of the Government‟s work on Social Mobility [see page 3], former health
secretary Alan Milburn will report in the summer on access to the professions
for state school pupils. Only one in 10 of Britain‟s leading barristers went to a
comprehensive school, with similar patterns affecting medicine, the senior civil
service, the media and senior ranks in the army. He is clear that he does not want to
lower entry qualifications, but rather look at recruitment practices and initiatives such
as Government-sponsored internships for children from lower-income families.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published a damning assessment
of basic skills policy. They claim that the £5 billion spent 2001-2007 has had
insufficient impact, although the Skills for Life target was met over two years early.
Current objectives will only bring England up to current OECD standards In an
unusual attack, Barry Shearman, chair of the Select Committee for Children Schools
& Families, dismissed the report as being based on thin research.
The white paper on Social Mobility3 offers a three-part strategy to protect
people against the impact of the downturn and create a fairer society:
Position the UK to benefit from emerging job opportunities in new industries
and markets, by supporting research and innovation, transforming the digital
infrastructure and promoting enterprise „from schoolroom to boardroom‟.
Invest in skills:
o Pre-19, by providing more free early learning and childcare; attracting
more talented people into teaching; providing more support for 16-18
year-olds to continue in learning and go on to higher education;
o Post-19, by improving access to the professions; introducing new
„Professional and Career Development Loans‟ with lower interest rates
and a higher cap; piloting training schemes for carers and new rights for
Support families and communities by doing more to combat child poverty
[see more below]; providing more intensive, personalised support to families
with problems; improving training and mentoring for care-leavers; launching a
new Inspiring Communities campaign; funding more volunteering.
An opinion poll shows that three-quarters of Britons believe that they can
succeed in life. But 18% disagree, rising to 32% for those in deprived areas.
The Government has launched a consultation on child poverty4 ahead of a Bill
which will enshrine in legislation its promise to eradicate child poverty by 2020.
Minister for Children, Beverley Hughes, has published Next Steps for Early
Learning and Childcare: Building on the 10-Year Strategy, which includes
Consider a legal requirement that every childcare professional be qualified to
A Level equivalent standard;
Enable parents to stretch the free childcare offer to cover holidays;
Pilot a „Teach First‟ style programme to attract the best graduates into the
Develop a price comparison website to help parents find the best quality
childcare in their area to suit their budget.
The Government has published revised guidance on children missing
education and launched a review of home education. There are no plans to
change parents‟ rights to educate their children at home.
The guidance makes clear that local authorities have a duty to establish that
every school-age child is receiving a suitable education, and clarifies the
roles and responsibilities of parents and local authorities.
The review of home education – led by Graham Badman, former Director of
Children‟s Services at Kent County Council - will investigate the current
system for supporting and monitoring home education.
Unlike in Germany there is no law requiring children to go to school – the law only
requires them to be educated.
Ending Child Poverty: Making it Happen: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm
The Committee for Innovation, Universities, Science & Skills has published a
critical report on the first 18 months of the new Department. They highlight
concerns about budget management and the use of "impenetrable" jargon, which
they fear could be an attempt to hide a lack of clear direction. The Committee noted
“underused resources from further education and skills programmes going to meet
spending pressures from higher education”.
According to economic think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the
Government‟s targets for child poverty and education spending could be
unattainable, because a real-terms freeze in government spending is now in
prospect. The DCSF could see just a 0.4% increase, and commitment to schools
might lead to a big squeeze on higher education.
David Cameron plans to cut the size of the House of Commons by at least 10%,
under a plan to cut public spending and redraw Britain‟s parliamentary map. A
boundary review could ensure all seats had roughly the same number of electors in
time for the general election that followed. The number of seats in Wales would be
cut from 40 to nearer 30, and small inner city constituencies could be scrapped.
In the Conservative shadow cabinet reshuffle: Ken Clarke replaced Alan Duncan
as shadow business secretary; Eric Pickles became party chairman while Caroline
Spelman moved to communities and local government ;Theresa May took on the
work and pensions brief; Chris Grayling became shadow home secretary; Nick
Herbert took over environment.
Lord Carter, Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting,
wants every home to have high-speed internet access by 2012, either over a
fixed-line network or by wireless connection. His interim Digital Britain report5
recommends a minimum speed of 2 Megabytes per second - enough to download a
film overnight or watch BBC i-player. The final report is due in the spring.
The plans have been described as „timid‟ when national average access
speed is 3.6Mbps, and some internet service providers offer speeds up to
50Mbps. However, rural areas may have to rely on wireless networks using
mobile phones, where it is harder to set a minimum speed requirement.
About 40% of homes did not have broadband by last year. Under the
government‟s universal service obligation, BT must provide fixed-line phone
services and narrowband internet access to every household wanting them.
DCSF and DIUS have sponsored the first ever Learning and Technology World
Forum (LATWF), organised by BECTA, which promotes the use of technology
in learning. With the theme "Next Generation Learning", it attracted around 500
policy makers and practitioners and 70 ministers. Speakers included internet
pioneer Tim Berners-Lee, Sebastian Coe, David Blunkett and Michael Barber.
DIUS research shows that parents are embracing new technologies to keep in
contact with their student children during term time. Three quarters of those
polled were on social networking sites and, of these, 64% were „friends‟ with their
children. 10% of parents used blog to communicate with their children and 12%
The use of social media is changing the way companies work and advertise.
However, many are still being caught off guard by its power and a session at the
Davos World Economic Forum suggested that many companies are still struggling to
move beyond having a colourful website, and to abandon their control mindsets.
High-level jobs with titles such as „director of social media‟ and „head of
communities and conversation‟ are appearing. They have their own
organisation – the Blog Council.
Social media allow a continuous conversation with customers and a very
rapid response to any service problems. Companies can „tell stories‟ about
their activities and explain how they‟re dealing with customer issues.
Dell has a social media team of 45 trawling the web for dissatisfied customers
and then contact them to make amends; managing 80 Twitter accounts and
20 Facebook pages; and running their customer feedback forum, which has
resulted in a number of product innovations.
Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom details how some companies are using
blogs, wikis, widgets and other Web 2.0 tools to encourage collaboration,
boost productivity and foster innovation. As a more demanding generation of
employees enters the workplace, the provision of social networking tools will be
critical to businesses looking to attract the best and brightest.
Ruth Thompson, Director-General for Higher Education at DIUS, will be quitting
the Civil Service on 3 April, after more than 30 years.
Judith Rutherford, from the Management Consultancy Anderford, has been
appointed Director of Secretariat at the London Skills & Employment Board.
Michael Davis, Managing Director of the Centre for Enterprise, will join the UK
Commission for Employment & Skills on 1 March as Director of Strategy &
Professor Michael Arthur, the vice-chancellor of Leeds University, will take over
as chair of the Russell group of research-intensive universities in September,
replacing Professor Malcolm Grant, provost of University College London.
Star of BBC's Dragon's Den, James Caan, has been appointed Co-Chair of the
Department for Business's Ethnic Minority Task Force.
Stephen Heppell, the author of several revolutionary pieces of learning
software, was awarded a prize for outstanding achievement at the Bett ICT awards.
He works with BAFTA to run „Be Very Afraid‟, an annual event for policymakers and
others who are influential in creating technology for schools.
The Global Innovation Index produced by INSEAD, the Paris-based business
school, ranks the UK as the world‟s 4th most innovative economy. The US
tops the list, followed by Germany and Sweden.
The index goes beyond traditional indicators, seeking to measure an
economy‟s potential for social, marketing and business innovation by
assessing its institutions and policies, infrastructure, business and market
sophistication and skills. It also assesses wealth, competitiveness and
The Index rated Singapore Asia‟s most innovative economy, ranking it 5th
globally, followed by South Korea, ranked 6th in the world. China is 37th and
India 41st. China‟s infrastructure far exceeds India‟s and it is far more
competitive. However, India‟s human skills outrank China‟s.
Japan, the world‟s second largest economy, was ranked 3rd in Asia and ninth
globally, faring poorly on measures of its institutions and market and
Research funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology & the
Arts (NESTA) suggests Government innovation policy focuses too heavily on
science and technology. "Soft innovation" – in art, aesthetics and the relationship
between form and function - is overlooked, despite its economic importance.
China has overtaken Germany to become the world‟s third-largest economy in
2007, behind the US and Japan. Goldman Sachs forecasts that the Chinese
economy will overtake that of the US by about 2040. Measured in terms of
purchasing power parity, the Economist Intelligence Unit suggests 2017.
China is also set to patent more inventions than any other nation by 2012 if
current trends continue. While its GDP averaged +9.7% annually between 2003
and 2007, its number of patents for inventions grew at an average of 34.4% a year.
Distance learning is taking off in India, as institutions race to train more
managers and educate students to meet the shortfall in qualified workers,
cited as one of the country‟s biggest challenges.
Through partnerships with a number of Institutes of Management, NIIT
Imperia enables tutors to teach students remotely via 19 NIIT centres. All
students must pass an entrance exam to take evening courses lasting
between 4 and 18 months, aimed primarily at working professionals.
In 2003, the 7 Indian Institutes of Technology began digitising their science
and engineering course materials for wider dissemination through the
government-backed National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning
(NPTEL). Through a partnership with Google, NPTEL has posted 3,500
hours of lectures on YouTube. It has become the most popular channel on
YouTube India, surpassing even Bollywood videos.
Dar Al-Hekma - which means “Abode of Wisdom” - is offering a western-style
education to Saudi Arabian girls restricted from travelling abroad. The
government has recently shown its support by giving the college university status.
Saudi women constitute 56% of graduates in the kingdom, but only 16% of
the workforce. Up to 90% of women who are employed work as teachers.
Employers are required to establish separate offices for women to maintain
rules on segregation. These restrictions, along with the limited skills
developed in state universities, limit job prospects.
Despite spending a quarter of its $226.7bn budget on education next year,
Saudi Arabian results are relatively poor. In the Trends in International
Mathematics and Science Study released last year, eighth-grade students
scored lowest in the Middle East.
Stanley Goudie, Chief Inspector of the Education and Training Inspectorate,
has published his report for 2006/08. Although the report highlights a steady
reduction in the number of pupils who leave school with no qualifications, almost
1,000 pupils still leave without any GCSEs. One-fifth of children do not attain the
standards in literacy and numeracy expected for their age by the time they leave
Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, and Employment & Learning Minister, Sir
Reg Empey, have jointly launched a new strategy for careers advice.
"Preparing for Success" sets out proposals for the future development of Careers
Education, Information, Advice and Guidance for individuals of all ages.
Between 2006/7 and 2007/8, the number of students starting a full-time course
at a Northern Ireland Higher Education Institution increased by 3%. The
number of students enrolled on postgraduate courses increased by 7%. Successful
applicants to Higher Education increased by 5.8% this year. The Department for
Employment & Learning is reviewing tuition fees and student finance arrangements.
A landmark 3-year review of Scottish education6 shows an improving situation,
but – inevitably – areas where the country could do better. Chief Inspector
Graham Donaldson [a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland, run by FEdS]
has also identified a range of issues that need addressing if Scotland is to achieve its
high aspirations for learner improvement.
Strengths include: early education overall; the broad curriculum offered by
primary and secondary schools; an increasing emphasis on breadth of
achievement; greater flexibility for local decision-making; effective partnership
working in many local authorities.
Challenges include: improving support for vulnerable and disadvantaged
young people; ensuring positive post-school destinations; better integration of
services for children; better training for pre-school staff; promoting diversity,
equality and fairness; providing more consistent child protection across the
Recommendations for the future include:
o Recognising that a rich and challenging educational experience should
result in both achievement and attainment.
o Providing imaginative, well-judged teaching that challenges and supports
o Engaging all members of staff purposefully in personal and professional
development and in learning and curriculum innovation.
Improving Scottish Education 2005-2008
o Recognising that individuals, establishments and services cannot, on their
own, deliver what is required for successful learning in today‟s demanding
David Caldwell, director of Universities Scotland, is predicting that top-up fees
could become an attractive idea for Scotland if the cap on English fees were
lifted. Scottish HEIs could not afford to have less funding than English ones.
Deputy Minister for Skills, John Griffiths, has announced a £68m funding
package for apprenticeships and ProAct, which provides support for
businesses, employees and learners. ProAct provides an alternative to
redundancy by way of short time working and retraining during the days not being
worked. The programme will also include support for apprentices whose employers
are struggling to see them through to the end of the course.
Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has launched a £25m scheme to help
4,200 businesses and 155 social enterprises over the next seven years.
Enterprise Networks will support clusters of small and medium-sized
companies to work collectively, developing strategic supply chains, identifying
new customers and bidding for public sector contracts. The project will
provide master classes, workshops, business to business events and online
It will provide young people with opportunities to become entrepreneurially
aware and active through an extended network of Welsh entrepreneurs. It
will also encourage Further Education Colleges and Universities across
Wales to work collaboratively, sharing good practice and promoting
A letter to a Welsh Assembly task force on the future of higher education has
warned of “long-lasting damage” to the sector if the £61 million funding gap
with the rest of the UK is not closed. The University and College Union also says
that the sector must not lose sight of its core mission of adding to the world's
knowledge and understanding rather than focusing on its value to Wales' economy
and culture. A report by Universities UK on the effects of devolution last month
warned that England was moving further ahead of Scotland and Wales in terms of
research income and student numbers. Last November, the Assembly revealed
plans to scrap the £1,890-a-year grant to all Welsh students who study in Wales.
An inquiry into school funding has been launched after a study found Wales
had spent 6.4% less on education than the UK average since 2002-3. A Welsh
Assembly committee is expected to report at Easter.
The Welsh Assembly Government is funding a unique programme designed to
help overweight and obese children manage their weight. The £1.4million
scheme will target around 2,000 children aged between 7-13 years old and their
families over the next three years. Welsh children are comparatively more
overweight or obese than in other nations. Rather than focusing on weight loss, the
programme uses an interactive learning approach to teach parents, carers and
children weight management skills.
CURRICULUM & QUALIFICATIONS
The FT reports that “only one in six” Diploma students are studying at Level 3,
and the most commonly-chosen subject is Creative and Media. The paper
interprets this as meaning that „more ambitious‟ students aren‟t interested in the new
qualification and worries about the choice of the oft-decried „soft subject‟. It goes on
to report that the Oxbridge-endorsed Diploma in engineering is the second most
popular, with almost 3,000 learners. However, David Frost, director-general of the
British Chambers of Commerce, challenges the view that creative and media is a
less business-friendly subject.
It might have been helpful if the FT had checked how many Level 3 Diplomas are
actually on offer at this early stage; provided comparative figures for L2 and L3 study
generally; and considered how many of the current Level 2 students will eventually
go on to Level 3. The tired old dismissal of Creative & Media is not worth comment!
In the meantime, a Sutton Trust survey finds that many teachers do not think
Diplomas are a suitable qualification for students going on to university,
despite universities and employers endorsing the qualification.
30% of secondary teachers thought Diplomas were useful for university.
83% thought Diplomas were suitable for children pursuing a vocational route.
30% thought they were suitable for independent schools. And 74% thought
they were suitable for schools in poorer areas.
We can assume that most of the teachers surveyed have yet to encounter the
Diploma „for real‟. It is worrying if teachers are jumping to conclusions before they‟ve
had a chance to understand the qualification. But it is even more worrying that any
suggestion that the qualification might help a wider range of young people achieve is
interpreted as a negative finding and somehow undermining of its appeal..
The Royal Shakespeare Company will help to develop the new Humanities
Diploma. It will introduce young people to some of the themes they encounter in
literature such as democracy, dictatorship, moral ambiguity, and legal battlefields.
117 Employer Champions have been signed up to support the Diploma, 17
more than the target for the start of 2009.
Latest GCSE results suggest a continuing decline in modern languages, with
just 30.7% of pupils gaining a GCSE grade C or above in a language. Schools
could be put off entering students for language GCSEs, known to be difficult.
In 1,671 of the country‟s 3,159 mainstream secondaries, fewer than a quarter
of pupils achieved a GCSE grade A*-C in a modern foreign language.
In 41 of the 349 specialist language schools, fewer than 30% of pupils gained
a GCSE grade C or above.
The first A-level A* grades have been awarded to 50 of the 373 entrants to new
Extended Project Qualifications awarded by AQA and City & Guilds. The
grades have been awarded to projects ranging from why the Luftwaffe lost the
Second World War in the air to a Wallace and Gromit-style animation. The EPQ is a
compulsory part of the AQA baccalaureate and Diplomas, but can be offered as a
free-standing level-3 qualification to „stretch‟ A-levels students. The topic of the
project is chosen by the student and then agreed by their teacher/mentor.
Isabel Nisbet, acting chief executive of QCA successor, Ofqual, has suggested
the watchdog could look at reassessing the standard required to get an A
grade at A-level. At the same seminar, Mike Cresswell, head of AQA exam board,
called on Ofqual to be tougher in ensuring comparability between exam boards.
Kathleen Tattersall, Chair of Ofqual, will be the guest at the next FEdS Business
Forum Seminar, on 25 February.
Lord Sutherland – who led the inquiry into SATs failures in 2008 and was the
founding Chief Executive of Ofsted – has said that lack of time to implement
this year's tests has increased the risk that the system will go wrong again.
The exam board Edexcel has only recently been appointed to manage the tests.
Lord Sutherland has taken over as the new chairman of the Chartered Institute of
Educational Assessors, and says that examiners need better training and support
from expert marker panels to help avert further problems. He also wants more
assessment training for teachers and 3,000 chartered educational assessors working
in schools in the next three years to support teachers.
Research commissioned by the Every Child a Chance Trust charity estimates
that children who can‟t do basic maths will cost English taxpayers more than
£2bn a year unless there is a drastic improvement. This includes £1.5bn in
foregone tax because they are more likely to be unemployed or in low-paid jobs; and
allows for the financial penalty of a host of other problems born of poor career
prospects. The Charity is seeking business donations for Every Child Counts.
Finance education is rising up the agenda, and there are a number of
innovative approaches being tried in schools. A 2006 survey found that about
half of primary schools in the UK and more than 90% of secondary schools provided
some form of personal finance education.
Economic wellbeing and financial capability are part of the non-statutory
programme of study for Personal, Social and Health Education in England.
Teachers are advised to discuss risk, financial planning and an
understanding of the economic environment. At primary, making sensible
decisions, looking after money and understanding its uses all form part of the
guidelines, and economic wellbeing is a tenet of Every Child Matters.
Last year, Ed Balls announced the £11.5 million „My Money‟ project, run by
Personal Finance Education Group (a FEdS member). It will develop
financial literacy resources, launch a „My Money‟ week in July, and field a
regional consultants to help schools find time for financial training in a
Many schools use resources provided by high street names, such as HSBC
and Barclays. The banks are careful not to be seen to be advertising – it‟s in
their interests to have more financially educated people.
In Wales, schools help pupils become competent at managing personal
finances as part of compulsory personal and social education lessons. In
Scotland, staff are advised to teach financial understanding, competence,
responsibility and enterprise. The non-statutory curriculum is currently under
review. The Scottish Centre for Financial Education provides help and
advice to teachers – and is a member of FEdS Scotland.
There is some disagreement about the best approach to financial education,
and even whether it‟s having an impact at all.
An Ofsted report last year said spreading the subject across the curriculum
led to fragmented experiences for pupils.
A report from the Financial Services Authority last summer found little
evidence that financial education changed students‟ behaviour.
But University of Manchester research commissioned by the ifs school of
finance [also a FEdS member] tracked over 3,000 students who sat a
standalone qualification in personal finance. Students showed an increased
confidence in how to manage their personal finances nearly two years after
taking the course.
We know from past experience that „cross curriculum themes‟ are
unmanageable; these 3 reports confirm that.
Science minister Lord Drayson has enlisted the help of authors Terry Pratchett
and Bill Bryson and the celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal as part of the
„Science: So What? So Everything‟ campaign.
Judith Hackitt, chair of the Health and Safety Executive, agreed to have her
hands burnt to prove that health and safety laws should not curb more exciting
chemistry lessons in schools. She scooped up bubbles produced by pumping
methane gas through washing-up liquid, which were then set aflame in her hands.
The demonstration is one of 10 designed by the Institution of Chemical Engineers to
help teachers make lessons more exciting. Jim Knight recently called for more "flash
bang" science in the classroom, saying that teachers were under a misconception
experiments were banned.
A science centre at Queen Mary, University of London is hoping to fire young
people's imaginations. Centre of the Cell is a futuristic „pod‟, shaped like a cluster
of cells and suspended within the award-winning Blizard Building. Students enter
the pod via a rainbow-coloured walkway, and participate in a series of interactive
games, developed by scientists from the university. Below the pod, 400 researchers
are working in a lab the size of a football pitch.
The Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) has warned that firms
must do more to promote the benefits of careers in science and technology if
they wish to address the dearth of UK graduates in STEM subjects.
The Royal Academy of Engineering has launched a campaign to attract more
women into the discipline.
WIDER LEARNING & EDUCATIONAL ISSUES
As it launched its Social Mobility White Paper [see p7], the Government drew
attention to figures showing that the educational gap had narrowed over the
previous 10 years.
The percentage of children in the most deprived local authorities leaving
school with five good GCSEs including English and maths has improved by
19.9 percentage points, compared with 13.2 pp in the least deprived;
The gap between the most deprived and the least deprived communities has
narrowed by 6.7 percentage points;
Schools with the highest levels of pupils receiving Free School Meals have
seen the biggest rise in the percentage of pupils achieving 5 A*-C grades
including English and maths;
14 year-olds at Monkseaton secondary school have been experimenting with a
radical new approach to learning that supports long-term memory. „Spaced
learning‟ was developed by head teacher Paul Kelley after he read about discoveries
in the chemical and genetic processes of creating memory.
In short-term memory, the changes in neurons fade within hours; in long-term
memory, the changes strengthen neural pathways and are permanent. The
research team had discovered that stimulating cells three times with 10-
minute breaks caused them to make a permanent change.
With the help of learning and neuroscience experts, staff created a learning
experience of three fast-paced, repetitive sessions with two 10- minute
breaks involving physical exercise.
A single two-hour Spaced Learning trial was conducted with 48 Year 9 pupils
who then took a GCSE modular science exam three days later, having had
no other tuition. Scores ranged from 40%-90%, and the average was 58%.
According to Paul Kelley, Spaced Learning is not “the solution” to how pupils
learn. But it shows how quickly they can assimilate complex information, and
demonstrates the potential of unconventional lessons.
Could somebody create an adult version please!
Perhaps „Spaced Learning‟ could provide a response to a recent Ofsted report
suggesting that teaching is often boring and fails to inspire the pupils in more
than 7,000 of England‟s schools. According to Tim Key, adviser to chief inspector,
Christine Gilbert, the 33% of schools where teaching is only judged to be satisfactory
are likely to be delivering dull lessons that fail to motivate children, leading to poor
behaviour. However teachers are less likely to take risks when the inspector calls.
A survey by Edge has found that 75% of young people feel that the education
system doesn‟t meet their needs, while 43% find school boring or irrelevant.
56% of Year 11 students are worried that school doesn‟t do enough to
prepare young people for the world of work. 70% of young people working
full-time believe this to be true.
Edge followed up the survey with its Six Steps to Change Manifesto, setting
out its vision for reform of the education system:
o Give young students experience of life skills and careers
o Replace all SATs with individual student profiles
o At 14 let students choose a pathway which matches their aspirations
o Ensure all vocational courses are taught in excellent facilities by
teachers with relevant real world experience
o At 16 students can specialise further or change pathways
o Vocational degrees endorsed by employers
A new approach to undergraduate degrees, developed at the University of
Melbourne, is typical of a trend for universities worldwide to rethink their
The university has phased out 96 old courses in favour of 6 new broad first-
degree programmes in the arts, the sciences, commerce, music,
environments and biomedicine. The programmes require students to study a
quarter of their modules from across other disciplines in so-called breadth
subjects. They are encouraged to specialise through post-graduate studies.
The University of Aberdeen is introducing a similar model, informed by a set
of 'graduate attributes' linked to academic excellence; critical thinking and
effective communication; openness to learning and personal development;
and citizenship. They also offer a more flexible entry process, allowing
students to leave with a diploma if they cannot finish the course, and return
At the same time, new techniques in assessment are helping to turn students
into active partners in their own learning. Wikis, blogs, podcasts. portfolios, role
play and peer assessment are all helping to reduce the once-powerful hold of
traditional exams and essays; and provoking debate about standards and fairness.
If nothing else, universities are gradually realising that to expect anybody to
take „sudden death‟ exams involving handwritten essays is anachronistic and
irrelevant to the world beyond university.
Ever since the National Student Survey was launched in 2005, students have
consistently given the lowest scores to the assessment and feedback they
The NUS has published ten principles of assessment that include: more
formative assessment; feedback to aid the learning process; more inspiring
and motivating assessment; greater use of continuous, peer and self-
Examples of innovative approaches include: Developing a war simulation
game as part of a programme on conflict; devising and presenting research
proposals to older students playing the role of the research councils;
assembling a poetry anthology, working out the target audience and justifying
editorial choices; being assessed on communication skills through role plays
See FedS Briefing Paper on „A New Vision for HE‟, circulated in December, for more
on the future of higher education.
Research on 386 sixth-form students found that an interest in current affairs
was the strongest indicator that students would plan to go to university. A
second study showed that students who were unsure about going to university,
despite having appropriate attainment levels, were more likely to be uncertain about
the potential financial benefits. In both studies, researchers found that there was no
relationship between the educational and occupational backgrounds of their parents
and the student's desire to go to university. This contradicts guidelines for
Aimhigher, the campaign to widen participation in HE.
2007/08 figures show that one in five degrees awarded by British universities
went to overseas students, almost two-thirds of whom were post-graduates.
The number of undergraduate and postgraduate students from all other EU
countries rose by 6% and by 4% from the rest of the world. The number of
UK-based students fell by 1% to 1,964,315 overall.
Of the 2.3 million HE enrolments, 1.5 million were full-time students – up 2%
on 2006/07 – while the number of part-time enrolments fell by 3%. 44% of
full-time enrolments were for science subjects - a 1% increase
The numbers awarded first-class honours and 2:1s remained the same.
Universities have been warned that competition for overseas students will
increase, despite the weak pound making British universities more attractive.
European HEIs are increasingly offering programmes taught in English,
taking their cue from business schools. Pleasant surroundings, low fees and
cost of living and an international faculty all provide an attractive alternative to
UK institutions. Many also offer good conditions for UK academics.
Although such programmes are often in business- or science-related
subjects, Swiss universities are broadening their offer to subject areas such
as mediation, sports administration, English linguistics and children's rights.
The IE Business School in Madrid has reversed the usual trend by setting up
its own university, with the aim of attracting a wide international student body.
Every degree will include a module in management, and new bachelors
courses cover everything from architecture, biology and communication to
law, psychology and tourism management.
A study by think-tank Million+ has found the UK‟s international higher
education strategy to be uncoordinated, with "conflict between the policies of
one Whitehall department and another". There is little analysis of UK
universities' overseas teaching, research and knowledge-transfer links.
Rhetoric about the financial benefits of recruiting international students could
drive behaviour that harms the sector's reputation overseas.
England has come 4th behind the US, Japan and Germany and ahead of China
in newly-published world rankings for science and social science research,
measured by publications over the last 10 years. England produces 7.3% of
world output, compared to the US‟s 31.8%.
Science Minister, Lord Drayson, has controversially suggested that the UK
should narrow its research effort to key areas that boost the economy and
deliver economic benefits. He told the Innovation, Universities, Science & Skills
Committee that the UK's competitors were making "strategic choices" about where
they wanted to focus their research to deliver jobs and growth, including attempts to
entice away leading UK academics and companies. He identified life sciences and
earth sciences as areas where the country could capitalise.
Phil Willis, Chair of the Select Committee, warned that HE faced "plenty of hard
choices" following publication of the grant letter to the Higher Education
Funding Council for England.
Although the grant letter outlined a healthy 9.8% increase in funding, alarm
bells are ringing because £200 million of capital funding has been brought
forward from the 2010-11 budget, creating a potential deficit for the future.
The letter also confirmed restrictions on additional student numbers, which
were ordered after Whitehall discovered a hole in its student support budget
last year. Universities have been told to stick rigidly to recruitment quotas
drawn up by the funding council. If the freeze is not lifted, the total number of
additional students over the period will be only 30,000 - half the figure
Universities Secretary, John Denham, said his two priorities for the sector in
the coming year would be supporting the economy through the recession and
building a framework for the future of higher education.
Sir David Watson, chair of the Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning, has
said that universities need to “show more imagination” to create a culture of
lifelong learning. He wants universities to work more closely with further education
and to set up a more flexible framework to allow learners to accumulate credit
towards degrees and other qualifications. The inquiry began work in September
2007 and is due to report in June.
A new UK Doctoral Training Centre in Financial Computing is to be established
in London with £7m of government funding and support from a consortium of
20 banks and financial institutions. The centre will be hosted by University
College London, supported by the London School of Economics and London
Business School. The centre will support PhD studies in areas such as risk
management, compliance and fraud detection in an attempt to maintain the
competitiveness of the capital‟s financial services industry. Students will undertake
4-year programmes, dividing their time between academia and industry, and part-
time students will be welcomed.
Recent research by the University and College Employers Association –
undertaken before the effects of the credit crunch could be considered - has
found that academics are now well paid compared with other sectors, and
have enjoyed relative job-security since 2005. Universities expect to retain more
staff as they cling to posts; and it should become easier to recruit staff in problem
areas such as business and management, accounting, finance and law as people in
other parts of the economy lose their jobs.
A CBI report reveals that the relationship between employers and further
education providers is improving. Almost half of employers in its survey have
established links with colleges. However, more than half still believe that their
workforces do not have the necessary skills to meet future business demands.
“Reaching further: workforce development through employer-FE college partnership”
includes case studies involving firms such as Unilever, FirstGroup and Marshall
Sir Andrew Foster, former chief executive of the Audit Commission, has been
appointed to lead an independent review into the operation of the Building
Colleges of the Future programme. This follows confusion among colleges as the
Learning & Skills Council temporarily suspended payment decisions on new capital
The LSC has said that there is no freeze on the capital funding programme,
and it is currently supporting more than 250 projects that are underway –
helped by the acceleration of £110m in 2008-09.
However, the pace of demand for funding by colleges overall has increased
and there are early signs that some colleges might struggle in the current
climate to raise their own funds to help pay for proposed projects. A small
number of applications that were due for decision has been deferred from
December to March.
Barry Sheerman‟s Select Committee for Children, Schools & Families is
concerned that Public Finance Initiative (PFI) deals could be hit by the
downturn, affecting the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
Under PFI, companies finance the upfront costs of construction and are paid back
over a long period. In their report on DCSF spending, the Committee warns that
difficult capital markets will make it harder for companies to raise money to cover the
high initial costs. However, the government‟s firm backing of BSF will help to
137 local authorities have now agreed school improvement plans with the
Government, designed to transform the 749 „National Challenge‟ secondary
schools where fewer than 30% of pupils achieve five A* to C GCSEs, including
English and Maths.
Around £52 million of the £400 million National Challenge fund has now been
allocated to schools to cover the cost of extra teachers and teaching
assistants; middle and senior leadership improvements; and help for
Strategies include transforming the school into an academy or a Trust;
providing recruitment and retention incentives for English and Maths
teachers; providing more 1-2-1 tuition, learning mentors and motivational
264 of the schools have this year pushed their results over the threshold, but
will continue to get some support.
Minister for Schools, Jim Knight, has confirmed that he will consider
applications for academy status from fee-charging schools affected by the
downturn in areas where there is demand for more school places. Private
schools in England can convert to academy status by dropping fees and entry tests,
and promising to comply with the admissions code and teach the core national
curriculum. Five private schools have already become academies and another is to
follow in September. Nearly 600,000 pupils attend private schools, around 7% of the
total school-age population.
The head teacher and the chief executive of an academy have been replaced
by Mike Gibbons, an experienced head teacher and former senior official
within the DCSF. Peter Noble, the Chief Executive, was controversially the first
leader of a state secondary without a teaching background, having previously been a
manager within the NHS. The school had struggled to contain conflicts between
pupils who were merged from two rival schools last September, and recently shut for
a day as a result of parent and pupil protests. The school failed an emergency
inspection by Ofsted, demanded by parents. Schools Minister, Jim Knight, has
promised to do all he can to turn the school around, including replacing its governors
A University of Buckingham study has found that specialisms do not help
schools do better, although the schools do benefit from extra funding. To
become „specialist‟, schools have to already be performing relatively well. In 2007,
pupils at specialist music, languages and maths schools got more A grades in A-
level physics than pupils at specialist science schools. However, the Specialist
Schools and Academies Trust has pointed out that science colleges have boosted
science take-up – they are over five times more likely to offer GCSE physics than
Pupils arriving at grammar schools from private prep school pupils have
substantially poorer key stage 2 results than their classmates from state
primaries, according to research by York University. The prep schools focus on
coaching their children through 11-plus entrance exams, worrying less about the
KS2 tests. 11-plus coaching for state school children has to happen outside of
school. 15% of the intake in 164 grammars attended private schools. In 50 of the
grammars, the proportion was 15-20%, and 20 grammars took more than a quarter
of their pupils from the independent sector.
Geoff Lucas, secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference
(a group representing independent schools), thinks England should consider
academic selection for 14-year-olds, as they choose key qualifications. He
suggests that independent schools would be tempted to open their doors to high-
achieving pupils, if they received the associated government funding. Both the
Government and the Conservatives have said they don‟t want to extend selection.
Headteachers at around 500 schools are to be given the power to offer good
teachers a £10,000 loyalty payment to take jobs in tough inner-city schools, as
part of the government‟s plans to improve social mobility [see page 3].
Staff would have to agree to stay for 3 years. The payment is equivalent to
about a third of an average teacher‟s pay of £34,000.
Half the cost of the bonus would be funded by government and the schools
would cover the remainder of the award.
Many schools in receipt of „deprivation‟ funding are already paying more to
recruit staff, and maths and science teachers already receive £5,000 at the
beginning of their second year in the classroom.
Teachers' leaders are warning of the potentially divisive impact of paying
some staff more than others, and schools could be left paying extra money
for a teacher who does not perform at the high levels expected.
Applications for the business and economics secondary PGCE course run by
the Institute of Education at London University have almost doubled, many
from people who previously held high-profile jobs in the City or law. Demand
for business and economics teachers has also risen.
According to data obtained by the Financial Times, almost 2,000 eligible
people interested in becoming maths teachers had made inquiries by early
January about starting courses this autumn. This is an increase of more than
40% on the same period last year, according to the Training and Development
Agency for Schools. The TDA views the current trend with particular satisfaction
because it plans to step up its recruitment of maths teachers, taking on more than
5,000 over the next two years.
The number of qualified teachers who have left to take up posts in schools
overseas where the national curriculum is the same as in England and Wales
has risen by 26% in three years, new figures reveal. There are now 74,264
teachers from the UK in British international schools, equal to almost 14% of
teachers in UK state schools. The research predicts that by 2013 the number will
have risen to nearly 115,000. In the last three years the number of British
international schools has almost doubled to 2,129. By 2013 Asia alone could have
more than 1,600 British international schools. Teachers at the schools are seldom
paid as much as they would be in the UK, but salaries are often tax-free, with free
rent, flights home and medical insurance added.
9 of the world's leading institutes of education - including London's - have
formed the International Alliance of Leading Education Institutes, to help
shape the transformation of education. Its first report, Transforming Teacher
Education demonstrates that teacher training and development need to change
The report focuses on the job of teachers in a world where unimaginable
amounts of information are available to anyone and learner needs are highly
complex and differentiated.
It proposes a greater focus on continuous development, and sophisticated
programmes that pull together pedagogy, subject knowledge, classroom
skills, understanding of children's complex cultural inheritances and of school
Teachers need to be helped to be active interventionists with other
professionals in shaping teaching and removing barriers to learning, so that
they can structure "empowering learning environments", to guide learners
and to work with others inside and outside schools to ensure that education
Investment banks that previously actively hired from most of the Russell
Group of 20 institutions are narrowing their recruitment to a tiny handful of
universities. The banks have smaller recruitment targets, although the number of
would-be bankers remains high. The number of students entering positions in
banking, insurance and pension funding in 2007 was 2.8% lower than in the previous
year. Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College are favoured by most banks, while
some are still recruiting from LSE, UCL and Warwick, although other universities still
insist their students are highly sought-after.
Intern schemes of the type being considered by the Government [see page 1]
are being increasingly used by UK companies and public sector bodies to
recruit a significant proportion of their graduate intake. PwC made job offers to
92% of its interns in the UK last year, with the vast majority accepting. However,
only 29% of UK students take up work placements, compared to a European
average of 55%. PwC advises:
Internships are good for specific projects and give students an insight into
working life. Year-long placements allow more time to develop students, and
give them opportunities to make more of a contribution.
Be as robust as you would when hiring permanent staff. Have realistic
expectations and clear goals.
This may be a student‟s first experience of the work environment; don‟t
expect him or her to slot straight in. Give them a proper induction, and a
buddy or coach.
The most productive internships or placements allow interns to make a real
contribution and to experience responsibility.
The number of philosophy students is increasing, and it is claimed that
graduates are finding it easier to get work after university as employers begin
to understand more about the critical skills the degree offers. Fewer than half
of all graduate jobs now specify a particular degree, and there is a shift in perception
among employers partly because students understand better the skills they have
Students can access a set of employability profiles called „Degrees of Skill‟,
which outline exactly what proficiencies they can expect to have acquired
Philosophy graduates could be more prepared for the workplace of the future,
thanks to their ability to "learn how to think and learn how to learn". The
profile lists precision, clarity and high-level abstract planning; problem-
analysis; creative, self-critical and independent thinking; self-motivation.
Graduates will have "a flexible mind adaptable to managing change”.
There is even a suggestion that a philosophy degree could be better for your
career than an MBA, however they too are changing to incorporate the
„softer‟ aspects of business.
The UK‟s „long hours‟ culture is getting worse according to TUC research, and
job insecurity might not be helping. Over five million people worked unpaid
overtime in 2008 - 267,000 more than in 2007. The average amount worked per
week was just over seven hours. The TUC has put a value of £26.9 billion on the
total amount of unpaid overtime in the UK. They previously calculated that if
everyone who worked unpaid overtime did all their unpaid work at the start of the
year, the first day they would get paid would be 27 February.
A report published by the Work Foundation and BT Global Services suggests
employees are collaborating more effectively using social networking and
related technology familiar to them from their personal lives. 45% use
technologies such as instant messaging or social networking sites to keep in contact.
61% said they had used such technology to share information internally.
Stress, conflict and staff turnover increase in open-plan offices. Although
companies can save up to 20% in development costs by creating open-plan work
environments, 90% of employees in open-plan offices report effects such as
insecurity owing to a lack of privacy, illness and low productivity.
In a survey by CyberArk, the security specialist, 88% of 600 respondents in
London, New York and Amsterdam said they would take essential information
and use it in their next job if made redundant. About 80% of companies have no
protection in place against an employee who has left. But IT workers who have been
treated well by their former employers are less likely to sabotage computer systems.
If it does occur, legal action should be relatively straightforward, and can be taken
against both the employee and the new employer.
LEADERSHIP & TALENT MANAGEMENT
A consortium of six leading organisations, employing over a million staff
between them, commissioned research to discover why they were hiring more
and more leaders from outside, despite investing in talent programmes. The
team found that these six businesses were using coaching and other development
activities to turn out traditional, “expert” leaders who had all the answers. In fact,
what was needed was a new type of leader, who was able to learn as they went
along, had huge reserves of resilience, an ability to approach each new problem as if
it was the first time they‟d experienced it, and who had a global mindset.
Research led by Ashridge Business School shows that fewer than 8% of
business leaders think senior executives are effectively developing the
essential skills and knowledge to respond to trends such as climate change
and emerging market challenges. The report also criticises traditional lecture-
based teaching in both in-house provision and in business schools. "The most
effective learning and skills development comes through practical experience,
whether on-the-job learning, project-based learning or some other form of
We all know that!
But innovative programmes are being developed to help future leaders.
Leaders‟ Question takes international groups from government, charities,
business and academia on 7-day intensive visits to countries such as China,
Africa, Brazil and Russia. Discussions and field visits cover business,
education, science, culture, human rights and the environment. One US
participant found the speed of development in China eye-opening, but also
the breadth of knowledge of his companions.
Adopt a Business is a UK organisation that matches people in large
companies with projects in emerging markets. They suggest assignments
should be linked to a broader strategy on leadership development, employer
branding or relations with stakeholders. They recommend a good match
between the assignment and the individual, and support both during the
assignment and on return. They also suggest using the leader‟s absence to
try out potential successors.
AstraZeneca is expanding its programme whereby high-performing staff do
pro bono work in developing countries. Participants report gaining flexibility
and skills in influencing people, being more focused on achieving short- and
long-term goals, and taking more time to understand other people‟s
perspectives and motivations and to adapt when necessary.
…and there are more examples in the Business Schools section below.
70% of all change management programmes fail, according to Michael Jarrett,
an expert in organisational behaviour at London Business School. Managers
see change as something logical that can be solved using step-by-step approaches.
But readiness for change is far more important than actual planning or
„Changeability‟ is the sum of leadership, internal routines and organisational
capabilities that make companies fit and ready for change.
There is a role for both radical and incremental-style leaders and Jarrett
cautions against valuing one approach over another. Those who
successfully drive change are psychologically well-prepared for anything that
gets thrown at them.
A survey of 1,004 private sector employers and 1,316 employees has found
that 33% of workers – particularly younger workers - feel unable to achieve
their full potential in their current roles. Employers estimated that an average of
20% of their staff would be better suited to a different role in the company, and that
16% of employees would be better suited to a different company.
A survey of HR departments has found that 30% have changed their strategy
as a result of the economic downturn, putting less focus on recruitment and
increasing their emphasis on organisational performance. A separate survey
highlighted the fact that employees who feel involved and committed to their
organisation feel more confident about their organisation‟s future in these uncertain
times – putting their companies in the best position to survive the recession.
The Northern line has become London Underground‟s least delay-prone line
following an overhaul of financial incentives and long-established working
practices. Improvements came, however, only after relations between London
Underground, Tube Lines and Alstom reached crisis point in October 2005, with
each partner blaming the others for serious faults and delays. The partners were
forced to work together, and performance metrics were aligned, and new, shared
procedures put in place to deal with previously intractable reliability and timetabling
problems. Managers have admitted that the collaborative approach is superior to
one where a single partner is in control of everything.
There is plenty of advice about for managers facing the difficult task of
surviving a prolonged period of slow growth or contraction.
Tailor messages to individual staff, who will be in varying circumstances,
particularly when redundancies are concerned. Be specific about the role
everyone has to play, and what the business requires of them right now.
Urgency, speed and decisiveness are the three key ingredients to coping with
a toxic environment. You should neither ignore problems nor become
panicked by them. Within 10 days of identifying a crisis Dupont had
formulated plans and organised a face-to-face meeting for every employee
with a manager who explained what the company needed to do. Each
employee was asked to identify three things he or she could do immediately
to help conserve cash and reduce costs.
Focus on the things that really matter – don‟t tell people off for being untidy,
when it might be a sign of underlying anxiety or even depression.
Use employees with high potential to help spread a new reality throughout
the business. It will be challenging for them, but will also provide them with
Use simple gestures to boost morale - Send a handwritten note of
appreciation to each person on your team. Be specific about what you value
in them, and notice small things.
Maintain a regular flow of information, even if it is necessarily limited and
couched in cautious terms.
Set meaningful easier-to-achieve goals and consider using shorter time
horizons. Consider using benchmarking and subjectively determined goals
and performance evaluation. Collaborate with your employees on goal
setting and evaluation
The Financial Times has been running a four-part series called „Mastering
Management‟, with business school experts and commentators offering their
observations on the difficulties of managing in the current downturn. Over the
issues they have been looking at:
The context of the current downturn and lessons to be drawn from previous
recessions, as well as how business leaders can seize the moment to
position themselves for the upturn.
Managing people effectively in a downturn; reconfiguring supply chains that
are coming under pressure; marketing; mergers and acquisitions; the role of
the board; communicating with internal and external stakeholders.
Focus group research in the East Midlands last year found little business
awareness of the diversity of provision within the higher education sector, and
suggests that unless universities do more to penetrate training markets, the
Government's „employer engagement‟ agenda could fail. Businesses think HEIs only
offer traditional academic qualifications, and don‟t realise they can offer bespoke
provision. But HEIs need to have a clear understanding of the market for higher-
The Edelman Trust Barometer is a survey of almost 4,500 „opinion leaders‟
across 20 countries that aims to measure the credibility of groups ranging
from non-governmental organisations to stock market analysts.
62% said they trusted companies less this year than last. In the US and
Japan more than 75% had lost faith in business.
The few countries where the poll shows trust in business or other institutions
increasing are all in emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, Indonesia,
China and Mexico. In China, banks are now trusted by 84% of the “informed
public”, rather than 72% a year ago.
The west has no money, a tradition of business and government being in
opposition, and a situation where both those sides lack trust. The eastern
economies, broadly, have more money; they have a tradition of government
and business being more symbiotically linked; and both those groups are
Most of those polled called for business to work in partnership with
government to solve the economic crisis and other issues ranging from
climate change to access to affordable healthcare.
The FT has published its annual rankings of MBA programmes compiled from
data supplied by 9,000 business school alumni working in 130 countries.
London Business School is ranked in the number one slot for the first time,
having slowly climbed the table since it was placed 8th in the inaugural
rankings in 1999. It holds the position jointly with the Wharton school at the
University of Pennsylvania. Until now, Wharton and Harvard are the only
institutions to have held the top slot.
Shanghai-based China European International Business School (CEIBS) was
ranked number eight – becoming the first Chinese business school to make
the top 10.
Three Asian schools, two in China and one in India, feature in the top 20.
56 of the 100 US-based schools are in the top 100. In 1999, 17 of the top 20
schools and 31 of the top 50 were from the US, while in 2009 there are only 9
US schools in the top 20 and 23 in the top 50.
Before the MBA, salaries start at about the same level and all more than
doubled by three years after graduation.
45% of students studied overseas, of whom 70% studied in a continent
different from that of their country of origin. 70% of Europeans studied
overseas, although six out of 10 stayed within Europe. Indian and Chinese
nationals were the most likely to study overseas. North America is the most
popular destination, followed by Europe.
The proportion of female MBAs remains at about 30%, despite recruitment
strategies targeted at women. The pitches used by business schools to attract
applicants – salary increase, ranking position of the school and employment
destination – may not be the right motivational levers.
Women say they are motivated by career enhancement, gaining credibility
and confidence at work, and an opportunity to gain overseas work
They consider the team work and soft skill courses the most useful.
While consulting companies and multinationals value the MBA, public sector
and third sector employers – where women are often employed at senior
levels - are less familiar with it.
Business schools are increasingly using social networking, blogging and
online video websites to market their programmes. Stanford and Insead have
set up pages on Facebook. Saïd has a channel on YouTube and a blog spot.
Schools also use Google‟s discussion groups and have presences on Apple‟s iTunes
U, distributing lectures to students and staff. They are also using more peer-to-peer
style information online as part of their outreach programmes.
The MIT Sloan School of Management has begun supplying free teaching
materials, including case studies and videos, through its latest website, MIT
Sloan Teaching Innovation Resources (MSTIR). Most business schools charge for
their case studies and teaching packages. The materials cover a wide range of
industries and geographies. Key focus areas at the moment are sustainability,
industry evolution and global entrepreneurship although the school plans to add
more subject areas as the site grows.
MBA students at New York University‟s Stern School of Business are
managing a portion of the university‟s endowment as part of their programme.
The fund in question has earned a cumulative return of 55.6% since its inception in
March 2000, compared with 31.8% for the industry benchmark. Even in the
downturn it has outperformed its combined industry benchmarks by about 6%. The
class teacher attributes this performance to the collaborative nature of his students‟
decision-making. Their collective decisions lead to greater prudence.
Niche business schools are comparing the obvious advantages of small-class
MBAs as an intense alternative to the better-known programmes at more
celebrated institutions. While such classes are more expensive to run, they can
offer a much more powerful learning experience and improve employability.
Less vociferous students do not get left behind; and cultural differences in
international groups can be turned into a learning asset.
There is a stronger emphasis on self-awareness and active learning, as small
classes highlight the importance of people skills.
Small groups can also take on challenging projects, such as consultancy
work with real businesses.
Business schools have differing views on the best way to ensure a multi-
faceted, „global‟ experience for their students.
On one side of the debate is the „single campus‟ brigade. They believe that
the cost of moving students overseas is offset by first-hand experience of
another culture, and interacting with diverse national and professional
backgrounds. It is also easier to get students to travel than faculty. Where
local faculty is recruited, communication and consistency of standards can
become an issue. However, there are enormous benefits to be gained from
collaborative research projects with overseas institutions and businesses,
helping to promote understanding of different contexts.
On the other side is the „multi-campus‟ group, who set up „satellite‟ campuses
around the world. Each campus will itself attract students from a range of
countries, but those students also have opportunities to visit the „home‟ base
and to host groups from the other campuses. This, they claim, results in a
rich learning experience for students and faculty alike.
Both approaches probably result in equally well-educated students!
The appetite among MBA students for courses that address social and
environmental problems is growing, and many are using their summer
internship to gain experience in these areas by working with non-profit, non-
governmental organisations, or social entrepreneurs.
Accenture Development Partnerships offers assignments with organisations
such as Unicef in New Delhi, the Global Food Banking Network in South
Africa and Women‟s World Banking in New York.
Corporate Development Corps, a non-profit organisation based in
Washington places recently-graduated MBAs from top US business schools
with entrepreneurs or non-governmental organisations in developing
countries. Placements are for 12 to 15 months, giving graduates a chance to
gain an in-depth understanding of the kind of work they sampled during their
Endeavor, a US-based non-profit that identifies and supports entrepreneurs
in countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, India, Egypt and Jordan
selects students from top business schools in the US to spend 10 weeks
working with some of the entrepreneurs on its programme.
The Middle East is fertile ground for business education, with strong
employment, a number of booming sectors and robust economic growth. So
far, it is European institutions that appear to have taken the lead in the realm of
business education, perhaps due to its large Muslim population and traditional links
with the area. Middle Eastern students also find it increasingly difficult to get study
visas to the US. Insead, the London Business School, Cass Business School and
the Judge Business School are all setting up centres or own-branded programmes in
cities such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
As Italian education experiences spending cuts, poor salaries and low world
rankings, the Milan management school (MIP) is developing customised
programmes to support globalisation, foreign investment and corporate
identity. It is also educating foreign customers about how small enterprises and
family-run businesses perform. Students are drawn by Milan‟s reputation as a hub
for design, fashion, finance and football. MIP‟s 40,000 students provide 50% of
Italy‟s designers, 25% of its architects and 15% of its engineers.