Impetus Insights - November 2022

Policy Newsletter header 2

Welcome to Impetus Insights... a place where we discuss ideas, articles and interesting reading about education and employment policy - and what we think it means for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. We'll be sharing this every month alongside news and updates about our own policy work. We’d love to hear what you think of this edition, and what you’d like to see in future newsletters.

Sign up to get the Impetus Insights direct to your inbox every month here.

We sent last month’s edition of Impetus Insights on the day Liz Truss resigned. That wasn’t deliberate – we plan (and draft!) these things in advance. But it has made me hyper aware that this edition was originally scheduled for the same day as the Autumn Statement, so we're sending this to you one day early.

Of course, for all the unpredictability in the policy world of late, there are certain things that are all too familiar and predictable. For example, next month sees the release of an innocuous sounding set of statistics called “Participation Measures in Higher Education: 2020 to 2021”. They are destined to be misunderstood and misused.

These are the statistics that are used to claim half of young people go to university (they don’t, but it is predicted they might), which was apparently Tony Blair’s target (it was more a loose ambition with no-one actively trying to make it happen). Some people will say that this is too many and that more people should be doing qualifications at levels 4 and 5 – though in practice those qualifications also count towards this measure. All this overlooks the fact that university is so popular because it’s one of the strongest bets a young person can take to improve their life chances.

At Impetus, we’re always happy to point out the more nuanced picture behind the headlines. We’re quite predictable like that – and that’s no bad thing.

Enjoy reading,


In this issue

  • Our thoughts on the last month’s news and announcements, from the Labour skills report, to employment support, to dormant assets.
  • Some things we enjoyed reading (and watching or listening to!) on education, employment, and towns.
  • Some things to look forward to over the next month (some where you’ll get lots of stats, and some where you’ll hear from our team).
  • If you get to the end, we’ll teach you how to pronounce the surname of Phoebe Arslanagić, our Senior Policy Advisor.

    News and views

    Our focus here, as at Impetus, is on the outcomes that we know work to improve the life chances of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – educational attainment, access to higher education and sustainable employment.

    • The Labour Party’s council of skills advisors, chaired by Lord Blunkett, has published their report. We’re particular fans of a “reformed” National Tutoring Programme “embedded as a permanent feature”. The plan to make “full use” of destination measures to help schools understand the long-term destinations of students is equally interesting – our advice would be to use the LEO data rather than destination data for this. Check out our LEO research on long-term destinations and keep an eye out for a new round of findings in 2023!
    • Fellow Youth Employment Group co-chairs IES have launched a Commission on the Future of Employment Support. Over the next eighteen months, the Commission will be working with all of those with an interest in employment support and services to develop proposals for reform to help people to find good work, help employers to fill jobs and support economic growth and social inclusion. A call for evidence is now open until the end of January.
    • The Ofsted review of tutoring and the evaluation of the second year of NTP have both been released – like buses, etc. There’s lots to digest but there’s a common thread about the need for schools to think carefully about how to make NTP work, whether in the reflection that NTP increased workload for SLT or in the need to ensure tutoring aligns with the curriculum and meets pupil needs. You can hear more about this (including from me!) at the CfEY Tutoring Summit next week. And for super nerds, in the US there’s a $10m research initiative to investigate different models to build the evidence base about how best to do tutoring.
    • The DfE are looking to put together national standards for Personal, Social and Employability Qualifications (PSEQs) and they want expert panellists to ensure they are informed by the needs of students and employers. There are three panels: Personal and Social Development; Independent Living Skills; Employability. More here if you want to get involved.
    • NPC had some interesting thoughts on how to spend the Dormant Assets money. We couldn’t agree more with the sentiment that the money should be used to look beyond “immediate crisis response and think long-term about what our communities need to thrive.” You can multiply your impact with well targeted interventions that sit above the day to day spending – it’s why we’re proud of our involvement in setting up EEF, NTP and YEF, among others.
    • Some super quick facts from the last month’s data releases: Key stage 4 destination data shows disadvantaged pupils were less likely to have a sustained destination (88.4%) than all other pupils (95.6%)… 16 to 18 attainment data shows largest ever gaps between rich and poor… OfS student outcomes data shows young people from disadvantaged backgrounds had lower continuation, completion, attainment and progression rates than their better off peers…

    Top reads

    Here’s our roundup of some of the most useful and interesting reads across a range of interesting areas...

    • One of the reasons we’re unashamed of our laser like focus on a small number of meaningful outcomes is because we know things like basic English and maths skills are pivotal to long term success. This first-hand account of having a father who couldn’t write brings home why it matters. It’s not about passing exams for the sake of it – it’s about being able to engage in society.
    • NPC CEO Dan Corry’s speech to their annual NPC Ignites conference is very thoughtful. It’s one of the first attempts I’ve seen to marry the classical understanding of evidence and impact (which is a big part of our historic DNA at Impetus) with the greater focus on equity that we like many organisations have committed to.
    • Ofsted have also done a deep-dive into skills bootcamps. While not explicitly aimed at young people, they are an interesting route for people to learn technical skills and we’re keeping half an eye on whether as they bed in they do that. If you’re a skills bootcamp nerd who is willing to share your thoughts, get in touch!
    • The Centre for Progressive Policy (New Horizons) and Onward (Beyond School) both have education-themed reports out. The former has lots of good stuff in it, particularly bringing pupil premium funding back to 2015 levels in real terms and expanding it into FE. The latter calls for a ring-fenced enrichment premium for after-school activities. Let it never be said that Impetus sits on the fence: we’d prefer the former.
    • Last month, Phoebe spoke at an event organised by IES on “Improving outcomes for young people: what next for policy-makers?” The webinar is now online if you missed it.
    • The Youth Futures podcast is back. Our Youth Employment Group co-chairs start the new season with the inside track on the work they’ve been doing and the road ahead.

    Look ahead

    22 November: we’re supporting CfEY’s National Tutoring Summit alongside our charity partners, Action Tutoring and The Tutor Trust.

    24 November: there are so many government statistics coming out we don’t know where to look! From termly exclusions data, to the quarterly NEET statistics (which come with “reasons”), to a new set of graduate LEO data – there’s enough going on that I’m allowed to use the word cornucopia to describe it.

    1 December: Phoebe is speaking on day 2 of the ERSA Conference – do say hi to her if you are there.

    12 December: it’s the second third sector forum on “what next for fair access and participation?” You can read more about why we’re doing this in our blog or email Helena to find out more.

    And finally...

    … how to pronounce Phoebe’s surname, Arslanagić?

    So, it’s Ars-lah-nah-gitch. Two things I found helpful when this was explained to me:

    1. Note the middle bit is “lah-nah” rather than “lan-ah”
    2. Put the emphasis on the “Ars” rather than the “lah”

    For those interested, Arslanagić is a Bosnian Muslim surname. Phoebe says "I added Arslanagić, my mother’s surname, to mine around nine years ago when I began to better understand the violence and ethnic cleansing she had fled in Bosnia in the 1990s. Part of me felt that by having no Bosnian Muslim trace in my name, I was contributing to the efforts to ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims.” There’s more on the importance of names in this blog (which is where that quote is from!)

    Sign up to get Impetus Insights direct to your inbox every month.

    Ben Gadsby is Head of Policy and Research at Impetus.

    Find out more

    Impetus Insights - May 2024

    Welcome to Impetus Insights, a place where we discuss ideas, articles and interesting reading about education and employment policy.
    Read More

    Impetus Insights - April 2024

    Welcome to Impetus Insights, a place where we discuss ideas, articles and interesting reading about education and employment policy.
    Read More

    Impetus Insights - March 2024

    Welcome to Impetus Insights, a place where we discuss ideas, articles and interesting reading about education and employment policy.
    Read More