Notes from RSA South East Annual Conference

The RSA South East Region held an annual meeting at the beautiful Lancing College in Surrey in West Sussex. The theme for the evening was education and what kept the speakers awake at night.

Lancing College’s Headmaster, Jonathan Gillespie, led the speakers. Some of the main points which stuck out were that:

1)      25% of Lancing’s pupils who are applying for university are applying to universities in the US. They will not all go, but the number actively applying was surprising and says something about the UK’s higher fees and the bursaries available in the US;

2)      Research has been done at Cambridge University which has shown that AS Levels are the best indicator of which degree class the student will go on to achieve; and

3)      The UK government’s move to allow universities to recruit unlimited numbers of students with A-Level grades of at least ABB has led previously selective universities to become essentially recruiting universities.

The latter point was particularly interesting and not a point I had heard expressed like that to date. Positive or negative, if correct, it’s a very interesting development with wide implications.

Matthew Coffey, Director, Further Education and Skills at Ofsted, highlighted issues around “unseen children”. Those children which are not being well served by the current system. He spoke of “studio schools” which are being set up to specifically deal with students who are not fitting in, and perhaps not getting the desired grades, of the schools they start at. Careers advice was an area Mr. Coffey highlighted at schools was an area which was highlighted as one which needed a lot more input.

Sue Horner, Chair of RSA Academies, ended the evening on a lighter tone with some colourful anecdotes but highlighting the challenges education and other sectors have when navigating the coming and goings of politicians.

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