UK Distance Learning & Publishing tries to keep its eye on developments in education. This list of 5 things to look out for in education in 2017 is so that our students, or anyone thinking about studying, can have a clearer picture of what the educational landscape might look like in 2017 and beyond. Hopefully this will help you to weigh up your options, and see how online study might fit in with your plans for the future.
1. Vocational training
Despite making large cuts to further education in the last few years, the government has recently started talking about renewing investment in vocational training. Vocational training means training for a particular kind of job. This can be done in a classroom, or as part of an in-work apprenticeship scheme. There has also been a recent announcement of a new kind of qualification called T-Levels. These will be designed to act as a vocational alternative to A-Levels, a bit like BTECs were intended to do. These will be taught in colleges as opposed to schools, and it isn’t yet clear if they will be distance learning friendly.
2. Grammar schools
This is Theresa May’s pet project. She is ring-fencing several hundred million pounds in the education budget to expand the number of grammar schools. Grammar schools are ‘selective’, which means they test children’s intelligence at age 11 and only accept the ones who do well. It isn’t clear why Mrs May is doing this, as there is no evidence that it makes the children in the grammar schools perform significantly better, though there is some evidence it lowers the achievements of those that don’t get in. UK Distance Learning has never operated on any kind of selection-basis, and nor do most online study colleges.
3. Free schools
Free schools have been around for some time now, and these are also set to be expanded. Free schools are set up by individuals, communities and businesses, and have more freedom to design their own curriculum and hire staff than normal comprehensive schools. Indeed, free schools are not required to hire qualified teachers, so long as they have a good knowledge of the subject. UK Distance learning’s online course tutors are almost all professional teachers (sometimes retired), but we do also recognise the value of working with experts who are not necessarily experienced secondary schools teachers.
4. New grades
There is now a new grading scheme that is coming into force with new GCSE courses. Instead of receiving letter grades, students will get number grades. The grades will go from 0-9. Again, UK Distance Learning & Publishing can’t really see the point of this. Education reform is an ongoing process, and there is always more that can be done, but sometimes it seems like there is just change for change’s sake. We have already had conversations with students who are confused by the new system, and many who have only just recently left school had never heard about the changes.
5. Tuition fees
A Lot of our students who study online A-Level courses do so because they want to get a place at university. For this reason, UKDLP likes to keep an eye on any developments in higher education. We are a little bit troubled at the news that Universities will soon be allowed to offer two year courses that were previously three year courses. Not only will this shorten the university experience for some people, but Universities will not be required to reduce the total amount of tuition fees they charge. This means that students could end up paying £14,000 a year for their course!