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What’s Onward This Week

England’s grading system is returning to normal after Covid. Some 73,000 fewer A* and A grades were awarded to A-level students last week and record numbers of school leavers are now battling for university placements through clearing. And yesterday, Year 11 pupils across the country opened their results to find 200,000 fewer top grades.

Beneath the fall, the inequalities between nations, regions, and backgrounds have grown and deserve Government attention. But we should also look at what we are teaching young people. Computing was the fastest growing A-level subject compared to 2019, but four times as many chose psychology, and two-and-half times opted for sociology.

The world is on the brink of an AI revolution. Skill shortages plague the UK’s economy. And too many are pushed into university and onto courses that don’t lead to well-paid jobs. With young people desperate to catch up post-Covid, it’s time our school system prioritised preparing them for high-value university courses and technical education.

✍️ Research

This week, Onward announced our new project to develop bold and practical ideas to unleash the UK’s AI potential. We’re partnering with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and the Start Up Coalition on a series of roundtables which will inform an upcoming report.

The UK cannot rest on its laurels as the world races to develop science and technology. Too often, governments are unprepared for game-changing advancements or stifle innovation through burdensome intervention. If the UK is going to achieve its ambition to be a science superpower, ministers must prepare the British state for the change AI promises.

Our latest report, Wired for Success, presented a roadmap to rewire Whitehall to put science and technology at the heart of government. This new project will build on this work and our recent paper, Generative AI Revolution, developing ideas to ensure the UK leads the AI revolution, maximising the benefits and addressing the challenges it will present.

📰 Media Mentions

Onward Director Sebastian Payne wrote in the i that the Conservatives’ right to be heard is gradually returning as inflation falls and that Rishi Sunak must present a big and bold vision to win back voters ahead of the next election.

Adam Hawksbee, Deputy Director, wrote for City AM about why Rishi Sunak was right to call out the problems with council funding, which sees communities with the fewest opportunities miss out on public investment, and what the Government can do to fix it.

In another column for City AM, he also argued for a rethink on the pensions triple lock to protect pensioners while addressing intergenerational unfairness in public spending.

The i, LocalGov, and the Municipal Journal reported on our recent report, The Social Mobility Penalty, which exposed the social mobility blindspot in government grants to local councils.

In ConservativeHome, Onward Policy Fellow Zachary Spiro laid out the obstacles facing science and technology in the UK and how the Chancellor could overcome them to boost investment.

🌐 Onward Online

How can we overcome local opposition to new pylons as we move to net zero? Ned Hammond, Senior Researcher in Getting to Zero, makes the case for community benefits.

Where’s the best place in Europe for innovation? Sadly, it’s not the UK. We rank 12th in the new European Innovation Scoreboard. Head of Science and Technology, Allan Nixon, looks at the ranking to show where the UK is doing well but crucially falling behind.

🗓️ Upcoming Events

Northern Caucus Launch – Richard Holden MP

The 2019 General Election was a pivotal year for the Conservative Party, breaking Labour’s monopoly over Northern England and demonstrating that Tories can win in post-industrial Britain. The North is home to almost a third of English seats, and will determine who holds the keys to Downing Street at the next election.

The Northern Caucus is a group of centre-right thinkers who are campaigning for greater representation of Northern interests in Westminster.

Sign-up to the launch of the Northern Caucus and keynote address by Roads and Local Transport Minister Richard Holden MP as we discuss how the Conservative Party can grow its electoral base in Northern England.

Date: Monday 11th September

Time: 18:30 – 22:00

Location: Central London Location  

NC Logo - Onward Newsletter 25/08/2023

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