It’s summertime, and the reading is definitely not easy

It’s summer, the most wonderful time of the year. Why? Because FErret gets to go on his holidays! He can usually be spotted propping up the hotel bar with a Singapore Sling and ranting to strangers about GCSE resits.

But what should this year’s holiday reading material be? Thanks to these kind people at the Department for Education, this summer FErret’s got no shortage of documents to wade through from his sun lounger. That’s because those tinkers at Sanctuary Buildings indulged in what appears to be one of their favourite pastimes: clearing out their inboxes for the summer by publishing every document they can find in the days before parliamentary recess.

This year’s effort was especially Herculean. Last week saw the DfE publish no fewer than 12 documents pertinent to the FE sector – not least the long-awaited Smith Review of 16-18 maths. What a treat. Then there were the annual reports for the DfE, and the education and skills funding agencies. Oh, and the ESFA also pumped out 18 documents of its own. Good effort chaps.

It’s fair to say that the interest value of the documents was variable. Highlights included a report on the vocational qualifications market, which pointed out that the Post-16 Skills Plan’s proposals for one awarding body per qualification posed a “risk of system failure” if one organisation fails. Well quite.

Less exciting, however, was a “benefits realisation strategy” on the apprenticeship reform programme – but it did offer an insight into how DfE staff view the quality-versus-quantity issue. For the objective of “creating more quality apprenticeships”, the means of measuring this success listed was, well, “increasing the number of apprenticeships”. Illuminating.

FErret might give the rest of that one a miss. But what next in the holiday reading list? It’s a toss up between the “post-16 institutions omnibus: wave 4 survey” and “16 to 19 study programmes: guide for providers”. Happy holidays, folks.

FErret returns on 1 September. Share your gossip, scandal and intrigue with FErret by emailing

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