Damian Hinds – 2019 Speech at Association of School and College Leaders’ Annual Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, in Birmingham on 15 March 2019.

This morning I woke up to news of a terrible attack in New Zealand. In the never-ending battle against hate, education plays a leading role in tackling intolerance and teaching mutual respect. My thoughts and prayers are with those in New Zealand.

Good morning everyone and thank you Rachael for that welcome.

I am very pleased to be here, joining you for a second year. When I stood up this time last year, I had been in the job for just two months.

I told you then how pleased I was at the prospect of working with you, and how I was acutely aware of the enormous weight of responsibility this job carries. It is a responsibility to you and all those school and college leaders like you, as well as the teachers, the support staff, the governors and of course the children, young people and families we all serve.

One year on, I can say for certain that the best part of my job is getting out to visit as many of those schools and colleges as possible. In the last few weeks I have heard that I’m not meeting headteachers. This came as a bit of a surprise to me.

I’m visiting schools, nurseries and colleges week in week out and I’ve heard from hundreds of headteachers about their ambitions for their students and the challenges they face. You couldn’t do this job without talking to headteachers.

And I can reassure you that I have heard the message on funding loud and clear and before I go any further – I want to address this directly.

I understand that there are real concerns on funding, that finances are challenging for schools and that many of you have had to make, and are having to make very hard choices. I know that rising costs from suppliers to supply agencies add to these pressures, alongside the particular pressures in High Needs.

On Wednesday the Chancellor announced the next spending review, which is when Government sets out spending allocations for the year ahead. I will take that opportunity to make the strongest possible case for education. For me, its not only a moral argument about our priorities – though that can’t be overstated.

From a hard-headed point of view, for a strong, highly skilled, productive economy clearly we need the right level of investment in our schools. And so too, to deliver the revolution we need in technical education we need investment in our colleges.

I stood on this stage last year and said that I would back head teachers.

Since then, when I was challenged to ban mobile phones in every school, I backed heads to make that judgement because you are best placed to make decisions in your schools.

When I have been challenged to intervene to centrally direct behaviour policy, I’ve backed heads to know what is right for their schools, their staff and their pupils.

And as we approach the next spending review, I will also back heads to have the resources they need to deliver a world class education.

Of course there will be competing demands on the public finances, as there always are, but ours is a very strong case, because so much else relies on what you in our schools and colleges do.

It is our education system that will shape the doctors, police and nurses of the future. It’s our education system that will produce the engineers, builders and lawyers of the future. And it’s our education system that will give us the teachers of the future.

I want to work with you on this just as we’ve worked together in other areas – in particular on recruitment and retention.

I’d like to say a special thank you to ASCL here, for their contribution and to Geoff in particular. And I’m also very grateful to the heads on our expert advisory group: Maura Regan, Jo Heaton, Vijita Patel and Lesley Powell.

Making sure that teaching is a profession that attracts and retains top talent is our shared priority, and the strategy sets out a clear plan to put this into practice.

Ultimately, a school can only be a great place for pupils to learn if it’s also a great place for teachers to teach.

Clearly, it’s school leaders like you that shape a school’s working environment, its ethos. But it’s my responsibility to support headteachers to create great cultures in their schools. Critical to this is enabling you to be able to hire the best teachers possible and to keep them in post.

You know that teaching can be an incredible career. But you also know it’s often a challenging and tiring one as well as one where you get to spend every day working with inspiring and inquiring young minds.

I’m well aware that many of the people in this room regularly put in a working week which is just too long. The pressures that you and your staff face are not good for your quality of life and your families. This is why I made a promise to you last year that I would take an unflinching look at workload and its causes.

Its why, for example, I asked Professor Becky Allen to take a hard look the issue of data and the burdens it creates. Our workload reduction toolkit, published in July, has been downloaded more than 95,000 times.

We have just updated it with a new section on reducing workload linked to behaviour management and advice for governors in response to recommendations in Professor Allen’s report.

And today we are also publishing updated guidance helping schools to reduce the workload and data collection burdens that often go with the pay and appraisal processes.

But to make lasting progress on workload, we also need to do more to set up a system that works for both teachers and leaders.

At the heart of this systematic approach – and as set out in the recruitment and retention strategy – are our reforms to the accountability system. Children only get one shot at an education so accountability is vital – and I know that you recognise that.

But I do recognise that the current system can have unintended consequences that add unnecessary burdens, especially for schools in some of the most challenging circumstances.

So we are radically simplifying the system to reduce the pressure on school leaders. As part of this we intend to make “requires improvement” the sole trigger for an offer of support – replacing floor and coasting standards.

School accountability needs to be simpler and more supportive. Heads should have complete clarity on the way the system works, the distinct role that each actor plays within it and the support available to them.

Central to this is the new Oftsed framework, Amanda Spielman and I are totally aligned on the need for an active focus on teacher workload, supporting and recognising leaders in managing this well alongside a commitment to reduce data burdens.

Amanda and her team have been working hard to combat the myths about ‘what Ofsted wants’. And more broadly, this new inspection framework will – rightly – rebalance inspection towards the substance of what happens in a school.

I recognise that workload is a tough one to crack. For many years now teachers have been reporting working excessive hours, but I hope we may now, with will and concerted action from all the actors in the system, be at a turning point. And what is making the biggest difference by far is what headteachers and principals are doing.

From surveys we know that now virtually all schools – over 90% – have taken specific action on workload reduction. We’ve published some great examples today in the workload toolkit, from King Charles I School, and Ascent Trust, among others.

Tackling workload is one of the ways we can build a supportive culture in schools. Another is to ensure that we’re providing our teachers with a proper professional pathway. The way in which teachers enter and progress in the profession must enable staff to achieve the things that brought them into teaching in the first place: inspiring children and ensuring they can fulfil their potential. This is already the case for many, but not yet for enough.

You’ve all had talented teachers, who have decided they no longer want to do the job.

It is a sad fact that more than 20% of new teachers leave within two years and 33% within five. And this problem is most acute, as you’ll know, in areas of disadvantage, where schools can least afford that kind of professional churn. They are hit particularly hard by high turnover in some subjects, like maths and science.

The great tragedy of this situation – and it is a tragedy – is that teachers all come into the profession with such a burning vocation, such optimism – they want to change lives; they are passionate about their subject and sharing their knowledge.

Retaining teachers in the first years of their practice is now the biggest challenge we face in the teaching profession.

That’s why at the heart of the Recruitment & Retention Strategy is the Early Career Framework, the most significant reform to teaching since it became a graduate-only profession.

Today, not enough early career teachers receive the high quality professional development they need to build the foundation for a successful career. We’ll change this by putting in place a fully-funded, two-year package of support for these teachers, linked to the best-available research evidence.

The Early Career Framework will provide much needed structured support for all teachers at the start of their career. The headteachers were extremely clear during the creation of the Recruitment & Retention strategy that for the career framework to work, additional funding was required. We heard you.

So by the time the framework is fully in place we will back it up with substantial extra investment and we expect to be spending at least an extra £130 million every year on its delivery.

The framework covers the key areas that will form the building blocks of any teacher’s career: behaviour, management, pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and professional behaviours; and it underpins an entitlement to support and training in these areas for all new teachers, including a strengthened mentoring offer.

To enable this, we are extending the induction period from one year to two and we are guaranteeing that every new teacher will have more time to consolidate what they are learning – with a fully funded 5% off-timetable in their second year.

And our vision for the framework isn’t just to transform the experience for early career teachers joining the profession. We want the framework to become the key link that brings together professional development at all stages of a teacher’s working life. This covers everything from the reformed ITT core content, to the development of specialist NPQs that support those teachers who don’t want to go into leadership to continue to develop and progress.

I want to enable more teachers at every stage of their careers to benefit from a clear, coherent professional pathway.

Similarly, as people’s working patterns change, so it is increasingly important that schools are able to adapt their working practices, so that teachers are able to have the greater flexibility that is becoming more and more important throughout our country. Although more teachers are now working part time, it is still a smaller proportion than the working population as a whole.

I appreciate that this can be a real challenge in schools which is why we are taking steps to help you make it more achievable.

We will be creating a new jobshare matching service to support teachers who are looking for a potential jobshare partner. We have also launched a competition among EdTech providers to come up with innovative solutions to enable schools to accommodate more flexible working patterns, including through timetabling tools.

In developing the R&R strategy, teachers told us that they don’t mind working hard when they can see the difference they are making. But their wellbeing is not something that we can take for granted or ignore.

Today I’m announcing the creation of an expert advisory group on wellbeing. Among the experts who have agreed to take part are Paul Farmer, of Mind, Peter Fonagy, from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Nancy Hey, of the What Works Wellbeing Centre and other leaders in the field. I am pleased to say that ASCL and other representatives of the school and college sector will also be involved, as well as serving teachers and leaders.

The group will provide expert advice and work with us to look at what government, local authorities and academy trusts can do to promote wellbeing.

I know there is a lot of excellent work already being done by schools and colleges involving charities such as the Education Support Partnership and I want to build on that.

Of course, motivated, well-supported teachers are more likely to have motivated pupils in their classrooms.

This point – that the success of teachers is inextricably linked to the success of their students – shapes my entire approach to education. It’s an idea formed through countless conversation with the people in this room and with the terrific teachers who work for you.

I began this morning by talking about the sense of responsibility that I feel in this job. But it’s teachers and school leaders that shape the lives of their pupils – and in turn the future of our country. My job in government is to do everything I can to support you.

We have made good progress on the Recruitment and Retention Strategy, the accountability framework and CPD. Make no mistake though, I see these efforts as a work in progress and something we must continue to shape together.

I know that each one of you will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of your staff and students. In return, you can expect me to back your right to be the ones making the decisions in schools, and doggedly determined in working to ensure we have the resourcing we need for our schools.

I very much look forward to seeing you again this time next year and to seeing the progress I know we are going to make between now and then.

Damian Hinds – 2019 Speech to the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, on 7 February 2019.

Thank you very much. Nigel [The Rev Nigel Genders] said how good it was to see so many of you many people here.

Talk about hard acts to follow. Thank you Sarah [The Rt Revd Sarah Mullally] for those very motivating words and I’d like to say a special thank you to The Rvd Rose [The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin]. What she does every day is the only private moment in parliament. It’s not broadcast. All of us across the House of Commons, of whatever party, stand together to remind ourselves why we are there.

Wow. What about these folk? These amazing young people from St Mark’s Academy Mitcham and Archbishop Blanch School in Liverpool. I think we should take heart and a lot of optimism from them.

These songs could hardly have been more appropriate: ‘This is me’; ‘Lean on me’. This is the aspect of resilience that I want to talk to you about today.

Character and resilience in people. These are the qualities, the inner resources, that we call on to get us through the frustrations and setbacks that are part and parcel of life.

So how do we instil this in them [young people]? How do we make sure that they are ready to make their way in the world as robust and confident individuals?

Now, the Church of England knows a thing or two about character. It’s one of the reasons your schools get such good results and 88% of them are rated good and outstanding.

Yours is one of the biggest names in education and in primary in particular.

There have been church schools even longer than state schools but now we are seeing a new development: with more and more Anglican schools converting to academy status, and the development of distinctive diocesean multi-academy trusts. And, I hope to see more talented people to come forward, through your parishes, to join in this development, as governors and trustees.

Albert Einstein once said: “Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character”. But what do we mean by character?

Plenty of people have defined it in different and often complicated ways but I would like to suggest four pretty straightforward elements:

First you have to believe you can achieve. You have to be able to stick with the task in hand, and see a link between effort today and payback some time in the future, even if it’s uncertain or rather a long way off. Finally, you need to develop the ability to bounce back from the knocks that life inevitably brings to all of us.

Those four things would also set you up to a be a pretty good fraudster or bank robber. We want you to use strength of character to be good in the world and that is where virtues and values come in.

So character must be grounded in virtues, in strong values.

There has been almost as much debate about what virtues are, as there has about character.

Now one thing I’m not going to do is presume to tell the Church of England about virtues because I fear it would be unwise.

But I think the sort of things people have in mind are kindness, generosity, integrity, humility, tolerance and integrity.

You and I know that education is about more than just academic achievement, important though that is. It’s about more than what happens in the classroom.

So how can we ensure that what young people become is the very best version of themselves they can be? How do we instil virtues? How do we build character?

One characteristic that is often attributed to those who have gone to public school is that they have a thing called ‘public school confidence’, a kind of ‘have a go’ assertiveness that you have from certain types of school.

Well this confidence is clearly not something that should be the prerogative of those whose parents are able to give them an expensive education. All children should have it. And very many do so. So where do we get it from?

Confidence comes from taking chances and seeing things work out; and it also comes from trying to do something – a project, an activity – until you get it right; it comes from learning ways to cope with whatever the task in hand is and it calls for bravery, gumption, maybe even a stubborn determination to succeed.

As has often been said, courage comes before confidence. Maybe you can’t directly teach a child to be confident but you can certainly introduce them to opportunities, situations, where they need to be courageous.

And it is worth mentioning that courage, of course, takes many forms. One thing it is not, is the absence of fear. rather, it is doing things despite fear or trepidation. For some people standing up to speak in front of your classmates might be no less frightening for some than representing the school at a swimming tournament is for someone else. Now if you’re lucky, success could be won on a game of chance.

But courage – to have tried and succeeded, or to have tried and failed, but to get back up again anyway – comes from within. Our job is to help young people find this courage.

In Angela Duckworth’s book ‘Grit’ she says that one of the ways we can improve our chances of building up character is if we commit to ‘one hard thing’, which she defines as something that requires regular, deliberate practice. The important thing is that you picked your hard thing yourself and that you stick at it, you don’t give up at the first experience of failure.

Because, actually, failure and disappointment aren’t a bad thing – we’ll all face them at some point in our lives. It is learning that the world hasn’t ended, that builds the courage to go on.

And of course as parents we don’t want our children to have the first experience of that in adulthood. To experience it now helps prepare them for the road ahead.

Character and a positive outlook are all intrinsically linked to employability. Ladies and gentlemen, we are more aware of mental health and wellbeing than we have ever been. And rightly so.

There have always been stresses and pressures with growing up. But for today’s young people there are also new and heightened pressures, partly due to the evolution of technology and media. This is also closely related to character and resilience – in Children’s Mental Health Week this agenda has never been more important.

Young people can be vulnerable to the effects of social media: and the adverse, artificial impression of curated and altered images, the kind of visual enhancement which depicts people with perfect lives and perfect bodies.

Material on eating disorders, self-harm, even suicide, is so much more readily accessible than even 10 years ago to children who may already be in a vulnerable phase.

Then there are the different considerations around deeply immersive gaming and even with good old television, the arrival of binge watching, and the shift from lean-back group consumption, to anytime lean-forward, head-phones-in lone consumption.

Of course there is good to be had from these technologies and media as well. But, every hour of screen time is an hour not playing out, not reading, or not sleeping. Time spent making virtual choices is time not the same as making real life choices, with real world successes and failures to comprehend, but there can often be real life consequences.

Research is constantly changing our understanding of how technology affects young people. Last week a study linked excessive screen time with slow child development; a study from Prince’s Trust this week finds that half of young people say social media makes them feel anxious about the future.

There is more research out today from the Chief Medical Officer. I want social media companies to do more in the interests of the next generation. That starts with the removal of content that may promote suicide and self-harm. But they must go further. Inside these companies are truly brilliant minds working out how to entice us to use their technology more. One of the strongest hooks they are using for our attention is the fear of missing out, of constant comparison and I’m afraid the anxiety that goes with it.

I want that creative genius used for pro social ends. My colleagues at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office will set out a range of measures to tackle online harms and set clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep our young people safe.

DCMS will also be allocating £100,000 to improve our understanding of how to address youth loneliness and I will come on to some of the ways my department will be supporting this initiative shortly.

Now of course, for schools character development is an important aspect of their role and for so very many it is a very prominent part of what they do. Very many schools already deliver a rich and varied programme of activities both within the curriculum and out of school hours.

And we are supporting these activities in schools.

Thanks to our network of 120 music hubs throughout the country more than 700,000 children in state-funded schools are being taught to play a musical instrument;

The primary PE premium is worth £16,000 per school for larger schools;
Around 500,000 young people, aged between 15 and 17 have taken part in the National Citizen Service programme since it began. It’s a programme funded by government and designed to help shape more confident, capable and engaged young people;

The £40m #iwill fund (jointly funded by DCMS and the National Lottery Community Fund) has attracted 20 match funders who have contributed a further £26.5 million to date, enabling more than 300,000 young people to become involved in social action;

The Cadet Expansion Programme is increasing the total number of Cadet Units in schools to 500 and is also providing the brilliant cadet experience for thousands of children;

And, in recognition of all this work, the EEF has now funded trials of 15 projects with a focus on character and essential life skills, to promote evidence based interventions.

There are great opportunities out there. As you know, schools have a duty to promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of their pupils.

This is done throughout the school day through things like RE lessons but also by reinforcing or encouraging pupils’ self-belief and self worth.

Take St Mary of Charity CofE Primary School which I visited recently. It’s part of Aquila, the Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust. It had been rated ‘inadequate’ before joining the trust and is now ‘outstanding’ with a strong school ethos focusing on perseverance and resilience. I asked one 10-year-old what resilience meant and she told me in a very straightforward way: “It’s just believing in yourself, really, isn’t it?”. The pupils, all of whom are an absolute credit to the school, were keen, enthusiastic, willing to try new things.

It’s at school that pupils will learn how to stand on the shoulders of giants, those individuals with stories of inspiration and courage from all corners of the curriculum: from RE, from history, from literature.

You learn a lot from Atticus Finch, as you do from Ghandi, Shackleton or Helen Keller; as indeed you do from the lessons in the Bible and the holy books of the other great world religions. Values and virtues are not temporary; they don’t pass. They become part of every child you teach.

We are also putting positive personal attributes at the heart of our Relationships Education. Treating yourself and others well is the core of having good relationships.

And again I want to thank Nigel and the Church of England for the help you have given us.

For those children who have the odds stacked against them from the outset, developing character strengths can be even more beneficial, even more important.

The Social Mobility Commission is currently researching how extracurricular activities, networks and the development of so-called soft skills can influence social mobility, as well as some of the solutions for tackling this.

I am keen to get the results of this research to take further steps on behalf of those children who aren’t getting the rich range of cultural experiences they need.

Last month I announced a programme to bolster exchanges and foreign trips for disadvantaged children, to improve language skills but also to build independence, character and resilience.

I also know that some fantastic work is being done with the pupil premiums. Take Northern Saints CofE School for example, which has a much higher-than-average number of pupils on free school meals. They used some of their £300,000 annual pupil premium funding to run nine residential programmes with the Outward Bound Trust, focusing in particular on their disadvantaged children.

I would also like to urge those private schools, which are blessed with great facilities to do more to share them, to make them available to others so that the entire community can benefit.

And there is more we can do together. I want to make sure every child gets to build up their character and resilience by testing themselves from a range of enjoyable activities.

This is about being generally better equipped for life but I also suggest this subject of character and resilience, while it’s not the same as employability skills is closely related. These are things employers increasingly say they need more of.

These activities don’t have to be a result of physical exertion. They can just as easily be something you do at school or at home or in an office that isn’t a hobby.

I have heard repeatedly from teachers, parents and young people themselves about the areas of activity which will help develop character and resilience. All of them combine elements that will stretch and challenge and will help young people think, develop and grow and which will enhance their self-esteem and confidence.

I wanted to distil this long list into something manageable so we have grouped these into five subsets – the five foundations for building character.

We have grouped them into five subsets:

First, there’s SPORT – traditional, competitive team sports and a wide range of other physical activities.

Next CREATIVITY – which features all kinds of thoughtful and inventive activities, as well as traditional creative ones such as: art, design, creative writing and composing music;

Third is PERFORMING – which emphasises more expressive activities for individuals or in a group including: drama, theatre, dance, playing in an orchestra or singing in a choir, public speaking and debating;

The fourth category is VOLUNTEERING & MEMBERSHIP – through voluntary youth groups, campaigns of particular interest to the young, or school-based initiatives, as well as structured programmes like Duke of Edinburgh, or uniformed groups like the Cadets, Scouts and Guides. It also includes voluntary work, which dovetails to our final category….

Which is WORLD OF WORK – from learning about careers and entrepreneuralism, to actual work experience or a Saturday job.
I am delighted that the new Ofsted Framework is going to place clear importance on personal development and positive attitudes.

Inspectors will evaluate the extent to which schools support pupils to develop their character – including their resilience, confidence and independence – and help them know how to keep physically and mentally healthy.

A separate behaviour judgement will assess whether schools are creating a calm, well-managed environment free from bullying.

This emphasises, lest there be any doubt, that clearly schools aren’t just about qualifications. We need greater co-ordination to increase awareness of all these opportunities available.

I do want to make clear that I’m not piling on extra chores to a school’s to-do list. What I’m asking for is a joined up effort from the entire community.

We all have an interest in making sure that young people grow up resilient, resourceful and confident in their abilities. It’s not something we can subcontract to schools.

Now, the information on the activities available can be confusing for schools which is why, following a roundtable held on the development of the schools sport action plan, the Government will explore how to make it easier.

This will include looking at how to support schools and sports governing bodies to link up and find out what is available in each local area for pupils to embrace. There will then be further work looking at how to signpost schools with other local opportunities, such as entrepreneurship programmes, digital after-school activities, public speaking and debating workshops.

A number of very long-established organisations have also been making a massive contribution to developing character for decades.

In the case of the Scouts, for 111 years. The Chief Scout Bear Grylls says that character “is what’s left when you strip away everything else. It’s who you really are.”

Right now there are 640,000 members of the Scouts, who have seen 13 years of consecutive growth. There were over 500,000 members of the Guides at the last count in 2017 and growth is constrained not by lack of interest, rather a need for adult volunteers. Both have big waiting lists to join.

I am particularly pleased to know that DCMS is running the Uniformed Youth Fund to create 6,000 new places in uniformed youth groups in deprived areas of England and to research how membership can address youth loneliness and isolation.

The numbers participating in the Duke of Edinburgh award are also rising. Almost 276,000 starting it last year, which is up 1.7% on the previous year.

What these numbers clearly show is that there is huge appetite and enthusiasm for organisations, which can deliver 5 foundation activities.

I want to make sure that we embed these 5 foundations as widely as possible. In schools character developed is much more than the extracurricular.

It all starts with good teaching. I know I hardly need to tell you this. Good teaching can be as good for character as it is for academic attainment.

Good schools reinforce good character development through a common and consistent language: in the way the school shows itself to the outside world, as Rose reminded us, in the expectations, in school assemblies, in open days, in contact with parents.

Homework and projects play a role in drawing on independence and stickability. I do realise it’s always going to be an uphill struggle to convince pupils that exams are a good thing, especially if one doesn’t go well, but this is where the really important life lessons lie. Failure isn’t the end. For some, it’s the kick-start that they need.

This is not about a DfE plan for building character. It has to be about schools learning from other schools, it’s about business pitching in when it can, it’s about community groups speaking up and inviting schools in. It’s about individual adults volunteering. All of us need to work together, using the wide range of resources and experts that there are out there.

I am going to be assembling an advisory group on how we can best support schools in their work to build character. This group will be made up of leaders and experts in their field, and will engage with people from the arts, sport, the voluntary sector and of course schools. The group will report recommendations in September with a view to implementing next year.

One key area that I want the group to focus on will be developing a set of benchmarks for schools to use so that they can deliver their own approach to developing character and assess themselves on how they are doing.

We already have something similar for careers guidance called the Gatsby Benchmarks. I want the advisory group to work up something similar for character.

We know that many schools have already taken a thoughtful and strategic approach to character education, drawing on the evidence and deciding how their own ethos, curriculum and wider offer to pupils – including delivering these 5 foundations – can best build character. I want all schools to be able to go through this thinking and planning.

The new benchmarks will give senior leadership teams a framework to help. And we will also be working closely with other departments in government such as DCMS and my colleague Mims Davies, who leads on youth and sport, on how we enable local partners and organisation to work with schools to make more opportunities available for young people.

We are also exploring how schools could be recognised or accredited for the work they have done in this area. I know that the Association of Character Education is doing some very interesting developments in this space.

Finally, I want to recognise some of the great practice that is already going on out there in schools and I plan to shortly reintroduce the National Character Awards which were started by my colleague Nicky Morgan. These will celebrate school programmes that develop a wide range of character traits including conscientiousness, drive and perseverance; virtues like neighbourliness and actions like service to your community, where even something small can have a huge impact on people who live there.

Ladies and gentleman, I’d like to finish today by saying that when I go to visit schools, I don’t recognise this word snowflakes.

I don’t recognise that in the young people I meet on my visits. The young people I meet are compassionate, civic minded and hard working. I know that there are 200 of them here today. I’d like to congratulate and thank you for coming here today.

When I compare you and your peers to who I was at your age, my classmates and I, you have so much more confidence, ambition and gumption than we ever did. But of course we’d expect every generation to be better than the last. What I want is for us to reach higher and wider, to improve further still. To make sure that these opportunities are available for everyone and that we value fully the development of character and resilience in all our young people.

Damian Hinds – 2019 Speech at BETT Show

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, at the opening of the BETT show in London on 29 January 2019.

Welcome to Bett 2019 – the most amazing, brilliant showcase of education technology and innovation at its very best. Actually, not just its best, but its biggest. Here we are at the 35th Bett Show – bigger than ever – it just keeps on growing.

Speaking of keeps on growing, we’re really proud that this show happens here in London because we’re very proud in the UK of our EdTech sector; the fourth largest in the world with a projected export value of around £170million (over $200million). And I want that to keep on growing as well.

But of course, here at Bett you see products, innovations and services from right across the world, as well as from here in Britain. You might say it is an Aladdin’s cave for the education geek. Well ladies and gentlemen I have a confession to make to you; I am that geek – or at least I used to be.

I wonder if any of you are old enough to remember this from your youth, I certainly am. This was one of my hobbies when I was growing up – coding, or as we used to call it programming. Sitting in your bedroom trying to get a game out of something as simple and straightforward as a commodore VIC-20. For any of you who are not old enough to remember what these types of technologies were, a commodore VIC-20 was something you used to plug into your telly and you would plug in a tape deck to load up programmes. It was something about the size of a small coffee table, with about the same amount of memory. I compare that now to something like ‘Fortnite’ which my children tell me does not actually take 14 days to play but does seem to take something like 14 gigabytes to download. It was hard writing a playable game with 3583 bytes of RAM; hard – but not impossible. In fact, in some ways, when technology was simpler life was simpler.

When I took my first job at the age of 17 (or at least the first job I had to wear a suit for every day) it was at IBM in Manchester, and it was possible back in those days in 1987, as a 17 year old, to be taught in half a day how to take apart a PC and put it back together. If I reflect back to those times in the late 1980s, I am struck that actually we had all of the core ingredients of office productivity that we have today; we had spread sheeting, we had word processing, we had slide design, we had database and we had desktop publisher. There is the classic Lotus 1-2-3, who’s old enough to remember that?

But I’m struck by the difference between having ground-breaking innovation and then having the sorts of great leaps forward that makes those innovations work at their full potential and their full scale in the mass market. Of course, today we still have spread sheeting, word processing, database technology and so on but it was the graphical user interface and ‘point and click’ technology which made it available to that mass market in an accessible way.

Back in 1987, I was a bit weird because I worked at IBM I had an email address, but if I said that to any of my friends they had no idea what I was talking about, because it took a number of years and three more letters at the end of every email address to make it actually work for the consumer. It took the internet, the biggest leap forward of them all.

Speaking of leap forwards, let’s leap forward to where we are today. We have some astounding examples of education technology available, you will see many of them in the halls out there and you can see many of them in very active and productive use in our schools in this country today.

Such as at Bolton College where their chat bot called Ada, named of course after the great Ada Lovelace, is enabling personalised learning for 14,000 students but is also dealing with many routine and not so routine questions, to relieve the burden of administration on staff.

Or Highfurlong School in Blackpool, where they are using technology in very innovative ways to support their students with special education needs and disabilities, to get the very most out of their education.

Or Sandringham School, where they are using technology to create a generation of discerning consumers of information, being critical users of technology and searching out bias online.

There are many, many encouraging and positive things happening in education technology. But EdTech also faces some particular challenges unique to the education sector. One of them is that EdTech sometimes gets a bit of a bad name because this is one of the few sectors where technology has been associated, for some people, not with a decrease in their work but an increase.

One example of that is email. Email is great when it replaces other types of communication, to make things more productive, but in education what you often hear from teachers is that it hasn’t replaced anything, it has just added to it. To deal with this, we need schools and leaders to think in innovative ways and we also need the EdTech companies to come up with more solutions.

Of course, one of the very best things about technology and one way in which it has changed remarkably since the 1980s is its ability to crunch large amounts of data, and often, though sadly not always, to turn that into informative analysis, charts and outputs. But of course the data have to come from somewhere and this is another way that EdTech, technology and IT can get a bad name in the world of education; the sheer volume of data that is required or is asked for to be inputted into these systems can create an additional burden on teachers.

Then there’s the market itself and there’s probably no better example of an efficient market working well than here in the ExCel centre in January 2019 bringing together buyers, sellers, the interested, the curious to come together to taste and see what is on offer.

But away from Bett, there can be some difficulties with how the market works for EdTech products.

If you are a teacher, a school, a school leader or a head it can be very difficult to know from this vast range of what is on the market, what is good. From the point of view of a seller – particularly if you have a devolved system as we do in this country – and we are very proud of our devolved system in education and think it is a great strength. That can also make it hard for a seller to reach the buyer and to be able cost effectively to do their marketing and their product exposition.

There can be a very understandable nervousness on behalf of schools dealing sometimes with brands and names that they are not familiar with and wondering if they can be certain that these will be around in a number of years’ time.

Then there is the issue of making a commitment, once you have signed up for a particular piece of software or a particular programme, it can feel like you are locked in. That can both make people stick with things perhaps longer than they would have otherwise, but also make them more reluctant to take them on in the first place. That can mean some wastage which is a serious issue. A serious issue because EdTech is now big business, here in England, technology in general in schools now has a spend of some £450million per year, so we need to make sure that money is being spent effectively.

So from this spring, we are going to be shaping our EdTech strategy for England and it has a number of different elements to it.

One of them is our friends at BESA are running a number of roadshows around the country which have already started, bringing tech to teachers to enable more schools to see what is on offer and to see what is possible. They are free, happening right throughout the country and I would encourage you, if you haven’t already, to sign up to attend one.

We also want schools to be able to see good tech in action. That’s why we are going to be rolling out a network of demonstrator schools and colleges where educators can get the peer-to-peer support and the training that they tell us is important to them, and raise their confidence level and skill in using some of these key products.

We need to have a trusted single place, an education destination if you like, where people know where to go for education products and services. By the way this is not just for teachers but also thinking about parents and direct consumers of education services as well.

Finally, because of those challenges that I mentioned with the way that markets work, we need to have an informed marketplace where people can buy with confidence and that also makes it more effective and more efficient for sellers to market their wares.

An important part of that is this product, which is being trialled by BESA and launches today, called LendED. It is an opportunity with tech products to try before you buy. It also allows teachers to write reviews and you can see case studies and get hints, tips and advice on how to get the most out of these products. If you do go on to buy the product you have the reassurance of knowing that the companies involved have been vetted.

So, I want to make sure that in our education system we are able to make the fullest use of the complete range of opportunities available through EdTech. But I also want to make sure that we are able to be specific in what problems we are trying to solve. We have set aside a £10 million innovation fund in order to help to drive this forward and part of that is about addressing some very specific challenges. These are real world issues that exist today that we can look for new solutions to. They cover everything from administration, assessments, learning at all stages, teaching practice itself and the professional development of teachers.

I could have a lot more than ten things up here, if you look at special education needs this could be expanded into a number of different items. In different countries there will be different lists, for example there will be places where accessing remote or particularly sparse rural communities is a very important thing to develop. But I thought ten was quite a lot already and we wanted to have focus. So, these are the ten we are going to be focusing on. Each one has a very specific challenge attached to it and, in most cases, a measurable definable metric as well.

For now let me just talk about three of them. First of all, on lesson prep, I want to see what technology companies can come forward with to help to cut the time that teachers spend on preparing and marking homework and in class assessments. Obviously this is absolutely vital work, it is at the core of what we do in school and is the core of what teachers are about, but it takes too long. I want to see what we can do through technology to cut the time doing that by two hours a week or more.

Secondly, the engagement of parents, and obviously parents are crucial to children’s education. Again, I think there is an opportunity here to cut the amount of time it takes while enhancing the quality of interaction with parents. As an example, we already have some schools in the North East of this country where they have introduced an online learning journey which enriches the amount of information available to parents and their involvement in their child’s education and the progress they’re making, but without adding more pressure onto teachers.

Finally, beat the cheats – we know that the growth of essay mills, the sub-contracting of work if you like, and the older problem of plagiarism – these things of course undermine the great work that students do at university. Over time this erodes the validity of qualifications themselves. Software exists and is widely used to try and identify plagiarism and abuse, but it seems the problem exists and in some cases is getting worse. For us to keep up with this, we need to make sure that we are not just up with the cheats but one step ahead of the cheats and we get smarter in the way that we do it.

For all of these three and the other seven on the list, there are three further tests which I think need to be woven through them. The first is that things have to be cost effective, ideally to reduce the cost that schools are spending on these things to free up more resource for teaching and learning and the other important things that schools do.

I also want it not only to involve a manageable amount of teacher workload, but to cut the amount of teacher workload that is being expended.

Finally and most importantly, it’s all about outcomes and enhancing learning so that more children can do better and fulfil their full potential.

I think you’ve all showed remarkable self-restraint sitting here listening to people doing PowerPoint presentations, I apologise for that, but there are some fantastic presentations coming up after mine which I hope you will enjoy. I know then you’ll want to get out into the Aladdin’s cave to see the full breadth of all that is on offer.

I do believe we are truly on the cusp of amazing things in education technology and there are some truly amazing products and services. I say amazing in the truest sense; when you see them you are actually taken aback by what is possible.

But in some ways I feel we are still in 1987; we have a lot of these brilliant innovations but we need to make more connections, we need to create conveyors to bring these things to their fullest potential throughout our system.

And Bett, the opportunity you have today to be with colleagues and innovators in the system from around the world, is an unrivalled opportunity to do that.

We must never think about technology for its own sake. Technology is an enabler and an enhancer. Ladies and gentlemen you in this room are a big part of that because we need a partnership approach between educators and innovators, between the technology companies, and the government has a role as well; to make sure we work together to forge those brilliant tools for a brighter future for all our children.

Damian Hinds – 2019 Speech Opening Education World Forum

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, on 21 January 2019.

Dear Ministers, colleagues, your Royal Highness and ladies and gentlemen. It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all here to London and to this 16th Education World Forum.

I know a huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to prepare for a day like this – and I’d like to start by thanking the very dedicated team who, year after year, make these forums such a success.

As I look around the room today, of course, we hail from all corners of the world, we have different cultures, different languages, different weather. Our experiences, our perspectives will be very different.

But some things are the same the world over – the fundamental importance of education, investing in training and shaping the next generation – this is something that every country represented in this room shares.

This is partly plain economics. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

But it’s also about business economics and about national economics. If you want to build a more productive, effective economy – then you will need a highly skilled workforce.

And today of course, new technologies and industries are reshaping our world at lightning speed. But even in a world of thinking machines, of artificial intelligence, of robots and autonomous vehicles, it’s people that are imagining and building this high-tech future.

Any country that wants to prosper in tomorrow’s world will need to invest in their future workforce.

Because countries need, the global economy needs, more technicians, more managers, more innovators and more creators. We need engineers, coders, welders.

For the sake of our nations’ health we need more doctors, more nurses, more radiologists. And, of course, all of us need teachers.

And is it good enough to train up a few, or even a third or half the population? No – the most successful countries are drawing on all their talent, all their human resources.

But of course people aren’t just resources. They are individuals, individuals with a moral right to realise that spark of potential that exists in us all. And we realise that potential, in large part, through what we are here to talk about today, our education.

It’s not only that a good education helps you find skilled, rewarding work. It’s that everyone should have a chance to discover the joy that comes through learning. When we grow up with a thirst for knowledge, a curiosity about the world, an understanding of our and other cultures – we are happier, more fulfilled. We learn to be ourselves as we should and can be.

And of course we know that access to education is empowering. It empowers girls and women, it empowers the poorest, it empowers the downtrodden.

An education gives people the skills and the knowledge to pull themselves up. It can mean leaving a narrow existence behind to discover a whole world of opportunities.

And your education stays with you. It defines your future path, whatever start you may have got in life. Wherever you go in the world – this is a universal truth.

You can visit a refugee camp or a disaster zone, somewhere people are battling for survival – needing food, water, a roof over their head.

And yet, if you talk to the parents – one of their first priorities is getting their kids back to school, reading textbooks, learning. Because education is always key to a better future.

That’s why as a global community, as a world, we made it our shared mission to bring education to all, as set out in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

But this is not just the right thing to do. It’s crucial for global stability, prosperity and peace.

When we co-hosted the Syria conference here in London three years ago, alongside humanitarian relief, we committed to educating Syria’s children, preventing a lost generation. A generation that could grow up alienated, despairing, in some cases vulnerable to toxic messages from extremists.

Great education can promote cultural and religious understanding, by teaching tolerance, by encouraging empathy and understanding for different points of view. Education means asking questions, coming out of our own narrow parameters…

Remember what Malala told the UN after being shot in the head for going to school: “The terrorists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them.”

The power of education. All of us here share in that immense privilege, the awesome responsibility, of sharing in the shaping of the next generation by providing them with a good education.

And we come here to this Education World Forum not so much as competing nations, but in the spirit of cooperation…

Civilisation arguably began when we found ways to record knowledge and pass on to next generation. When I spoke here a year ago, I said most of what is good in the world – great inventions, everyday conveniences – most of it exists only because we share knowledge or the fruits of knowledge.

So while our countries may seek to race ahead when it comes to creating more prosperous economies, exploiting new technologies, training more skilled workers – the pursuit of knowledge can, and does, transcend this competition.

Here at this Forum, we share our experiences, we share our expertise, we look at our innovations. We’ll be hearing from Education Ministers from Vietnam, Kenya, Albania to name a few, as well as organisations like the World Bank and Microsoft.

I know that Andreas Schleicher of the OECD spoke earlier, discussing their latest report which poses questions about the role education can play in lifting individuals out of poverty, promoting economic growth and creating responsible citizens.

The work of the OECD is also hugely valuable, precisely because it helps countries to work together, to learn from each other, to help each other.

There is also, of course, a commercial marketplace for education innovation. Indeed, there are few better examples of that marketplace than the BETT fair starting immediately after this forum.

As ever, this will be an amazing showcase of educational technology. Edtech that has been created to solve some of our most critical challenges – be it better training for teachers or helping children with disabilities to communicate in the classroom.

And for some countries, we offer direct aid to children who would otherwise miss out on an education.

I mentioned the UN’s global goal of education for all. Of course that is an enormous challenge. In the next decade, a billion more young people around the world will enter the jobs market, yet more than half of the world’s primary children are on track to leave primary school unable to read or write.

I’m proud of the work the UK is doing here. In the last three years alone supporting more than 11 million children in some of the poorest and most fragile places in the world, to access quality education, starting with the basics of literacy and numeracy.

I believe this is one of the best uses of international development spending. Because of the way education can put individuals on a different path, and, ultimately, put their countries on the path to development and independence. And yes we need more countries, in fact all countries, to honour their commitments to maximise this opportunity.

But beyond development – my country is committed to sharing and learning from you all.

As Education Secretary – and I’ve been in the job for exactly a year now – I believe our education system has enormous strengths – but that we also have much more work to do.

During my time in this job, one thing I’ve noticed is how frequently the same things up in conversations. I speak to my counterparts around the world and certain things come up time and again:

Teacher recruitment and retention;

Reaching the most marginalised families and communities; and

Creating parity of esteem between academic learning and technical and vocational training.

Different countries, different systems – but strikingly similar challenges. That’s why we have been determined to learn from the world.

For example, to improve maths teaching, we turned to China. Some 12,000 of our teachers have the opportunity to watch demonstration lessons by top Shanghai teachers. Or when we set about creating a more rigorous curriculum for our schools, we drew on Singapore’s curriculum and textbooks.

And our efforts to put teachers and school leaders in the driving seat, have – in part – been inspired by our visits to US Charter schools, where they have the freedom to innovate.

It doesn’t stop there. One of my top priorities is putting our technical and vocational education on par with the world’s best.

And, to this end, I’ve been on fact-finding missions to Germany and the Netherlands. Visiting top-performing technical colleges, meeting leading employers.

You learn a lot on these visits. But one thing that particularly struck me was the level of business involvement in training up the future workforce, not just co-designing courses, providing placements but sharing the responsibility, the ownership, for human capital formation, alongside the other equivalent investments.

Now as we transform technical and vocational education in this country, we too are seeking to put businesses at the heart of training up the next generation.

Our employers are designing our new, higher quality apprenticeships, which are longer and include more off-the-job training.

They are also designing course content for our new T Level qualifications, a technical equivalent to academic A-levels that will focus on teaching students the practical skills needed to do a specific job.

And at the core of this course is an intensive, three month, industry placement – where students put into practice what they’ve learnt.

Of course, I’m pleased to say, there are also things we do extremely well here and people come to learn from us.

Every year, my Department receives in the region of 100 visits from overseas governments and organisations. Last year this included teachers from Hungary and Japan interested in our policy reforms to improve initial teacher training and continuing professional development.

Politicians and officials from Ghana, Belgium, Croatia and Singapore interested in how we are scaling up apprenticeships.

Ministers and senior officials from the USA, Denmark, Malaysia and more have come to see what we’re doing on school autonomy, how we are putting more power in to the hands of head teachers and school leaders through our academies and free schools.

One area I’m particularly proud to showcase to the world, is our work narrowing the attainment gap between rich and poor students.

This is a global issue: the average gap in performance between disadvantaged and advantaged students internationally is worth three years of schooling.

Here, we’ve made narrowing that gap and targeting the most disadvantaged a top priority.

We are investing in more and better pre-school education, so more children can start school really ready to learn. We are currently piloting reforms to the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework which aim to free up teachers to spend more time on helping children develop the vocabulary, skills and behaviours they need to thrive at school and in later life.

As part of this we introduced 15 hours of free early education a week for the most disadvantaged two-year-olds in the country.

On top of the existing 15 hours free childcare offer for all three-and-four-year-olds, which we doubled to 30 hours for working families.

We’ve given schools the autonomy to work together and make their own improvements.

And we reformed our funding system for schools so that we now direct more funding the poorer, disadvantaged children than richer ones.

In particular, we introduced the Pupil Premium – an additional grant for schools that they can use to help those children who have more barriers to overcome, including children who are looked after by the state and children with disabilities. Two million pupils benefit from this grant every year.

And schools up and down the country have used the Pupil Premium to get better outcomes for pupils from the toughest backgrounds, pupils facing the biggest barriers.

We’re also spreading the best ideas on how to prioritise the most disadvantaged. We founded our Education Endowment Foundation to run trials in hundreds of schools to find and promote the most effective ways of working with disadvantaged children.

And last week I announced a new £2.5million fund to give disadvantaged children the chance to go on international exchanges and study trips abroad, to give them the chance to experience different cultures and improve their language skills.

And these reforms are working. We have narrowed the attainment gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their better off peers at every level of education – at pre-school, at primary school, at secondary school and on entry to university.

Perhaps the biggest change we’ve seen in the last two decades is schools right here in London. Twenty years ago London schools were some of the worst in the country – now they’re are among our very best.

But there’s always more to do.

Now we must replicate the London effect elsewhere and spread opportunity across the country. Through initiatives like Opportunity North East, which I launched last year. My department will be working with the North East’s schools, colleges, universities and critically employers to help more young people in this region reach their potential.

While rightly entire regions have needs, we are also more sharply focused now on the particular issues in smaller geographies – communities that have seen significant industrial change for example, sparse rural areas, or coastal towns.

We are rethinking, what I call, the ‘face of disadvantage’.

While ethnic minorities still have labour market outcomes that are not good enough, one of our lowest-performing groups is in fact white working class boys.

Of course, there are areas where no country has all the full answers yet.

Take the Home Learning Environment – the home can feel like the last taboo in public policy. But we can’t afford to ignore it, what happens at home is crucial to what happens at school and a child’s development. So we have struck a partnership with public and private sector groups to see how best we can support parents in a child’s early development in the digital age.

Then there’s adult retraining – so relevant in our fast changing world, with AI, robotics and other technology likely to replace, create and change jobs. We are designing a new National Retraining Scheme.

And, finally, a big one for me is character. When it comes to forging a successful path through life, clearly it’s not just about the qualifications you pick up – it’s also your strength of character and what’s inside, your resilience, your confidence and your ability to bounce back from the knocks that life inevitably brings.

Fundamental issues – these are things I hope we’ll be sharing our experiences and insights on this week, on the conference floor, in bilateral meetings, and in coffee breaks, again and again in the years ahead. Because there is non practical limit to what we can achieve here.

We all share this unique responsibility – the responsibility of shaping the next generation.

What happens in your nurseries, your schools, your colleges, your universities has an enormous and far-reaching impact on all our societies, on our world.

Ultimately, the EWF Forum is not actually an event. It is a group of people. It’s about us, it is about you and me and the person sitting next to you. It is about us coming together to share and learn, to work together to deliver a world-class education for all our children.

Damian Hinds – 2018 Speech on Technical Education

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, on 6 December 2018 at Battersea Power Station, London.

Introduction

Good morning ladies and gentlemen… Thank you all for joining us here in Battersea… And thank you to Battersea for providing this very striking venue.

I once came here as Minister for Employment and met some of your apprentices…

I remember speaking to them about what they were doing…their future plans…and being struck – as I often am when talking to someone on a good quality apprenticeship – by their enthusiasm, their ambition, their optimism… the sense of what is possible in the future.

Young people know when they are genuinely on a path to a good job, a great career – just as they know when they’re on a route to nowhere.

And, unfortunately, for too long, we’ve had too many of our young people leaving school without the necessary skills or direction – and ending up on a dead-end route…getting in to work but not able to get on in work and progress to something better.

I am determined now to change this.

Everyone must be given the chance to get on a clear path to a skilled job. That could be an academic path – but it could also be a more practical, technical path, as I’ll be setting out today.

Productivity problem

There is, of course, one dominant theme in any conversation about the UK economy right now… leaving the European Union. Getting the right deal for our country…the best future trading relationships… ensuring the stability that businesses need to keep growing and investing…and sustaining this unparalleled record we have had on job creation.

But there is another crucial issue that pre-dates Brexit and should be focusing minds just as much… Our great unsolved issue in our economy of the last fifty plus years: productivity.

Clearly, productivity matters…higher output per hour means the economy grows, firms can raise wages…and when people earn more, they have higher living standards, higher quality of life.

…And that goes for everyone’s quality of life, not just those at the top.

Productivity is also how we afford our public services. When people earn more they can pay more. It’s how we afford the best education for our children, the best care for our parents.

So what’s the problem?

Today Germany, France, the US – all produce over 25% more per hour than the UK. And, actually, this productivity gap with Germany and France first opened up in the late 1960s, further back still with the US.

It is a longstanding problem.

And this gap really matters. Matching German productivity would allow government to spend tens of billions of pounds a year more in our public services.

What has kept our economy growing this last decade, is our growing working age population and our buoyant jobs market.

But… As the OBR point out, we cannot rely on a growing number of workers keeping our economy growing – employment is already at record levels and we’re seeing less inward migration.

Our high employment rate is a great strength of our economy…

But the challenge now is more people working in highly productive industries, in rewarding jobs with the opportunity to progress and earn more…not just in work, but getting on in work.

Skills and people

So what’s the solution?

A year ago today, this Government set out our first modern Industrial Strategy for boosting our nation’s productivity…setting out our ambition to put the UK at the forefront of the AI and data revolution…increased investment in Research and Development…a major upgrade to the UK’s infrastructure…

My colleague Greg Clark will be speaking about many aspects of this strategy later today.

Clearly, there is more than one factor associated with low productivity…but today I want to focus on a critical one that I believe underpins everything else…

Skills.

Yes you need to invest in high-tech machinery and in the latest technology; but you still need people who are trained to use it.

That’s why our Industrial Strategy also promises a major upgrade on the nation’s skills.

Right now, when it comes to skills we have an hourglass shaped problem in this country…

By that I mean that at the top of our hourglass, we have a large number of well-educated people, often with degrees from good universities… They tend to be in the high skilled, high paid jobs. This is worth celebrating.

But at the bottom of the hourglass, we have a large number of people who either never progressed beyond GCSEs or gained low level vocational qualifications… They are too often ending up in low skilled, low wage jobs.

If we’re ever going to close the productivity gap then we need more people getting into the top half of the hourglass, and essentially we need to change the shape of the hourglass so it bulges out in the middle…with more skilled jobs for people doing high quality training when they finish school.

In brief: more skilled workers, more skilled jobs.

At the moment, the UK benefits from a growing economy and low unemployment, but it suffers from a skills shortage…

In 2017, employers reported difficulties finding the right skills, qualifications or experience for 42% of skilled trades vacancies.

Our country needs more computer programmers…more engineers…more electricians and chefs… We need more technicians in fields from advanced manufacturing to healthcare …construction to telecommunications.

Brexit and automation

This shortage is becoming more urgent…for two reasons in particular.

First, the movement of people.

Our businesses, and our society as a whole, has hugely benefited from our diverse workforce, the fantastic contribution of EU nationals and people from other parts of the world… Everyone working in the UK today, wherever we come from, has an equal stake in our nation’s future.

As the Prime Minister has set out, once will leave the EU we will be able to set our own immigration policy…a skills based system…

In the past the easy availability of ready trained labour coming from abroad has led to some reliance, some might say an over reliance, on importing our skills needs. In future, I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to develop the complex skills needed to play their part in a vibrant, growing economy…

Secondly, automation…

It is impossible to predict the timing or the way automation will impact us – although we see various predictions when it comes to the numbers of jobs at risk or may change, no one really knows.

But we must assume it is those with more training that will do better…

And by more training I mean better literacy, better numeracy, continuing improvement in general primary and secondary education, as well as practical, technical skills…

Ultimately, it is about how well our whole workforce can adapt to rapid technological change and a changing job market…the challenges and the opportunities.

The educational divide

What does all this mean for our education system?

Now, let’s be clear: there is a lot to be proud of – standards have risen and, since 2011, we have narrowed the attainment gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their better off peers by 10%.

That’s a fantastic achievement from teachers and leaders across the country.

And we should also be proud of our strong higher education sector…students from all corners of the world compete for a place at our top universities.

But the truth is that while we can boast that our young people have an excellent and clear academic route to a job…A Levels and then university…

Our vocational, technical routes tell another story. For many, the route is not clear, the expectations are not high enough and the links to a skilled job are too weak.

In fact, around a quarter of all 16 year olds in the education system are essentially churning around – switching between course types, dropping back to lower-level learning, or repeating study at the same level.

In recent years we’ve done a lot of work to improve apprenticeships – but before then they’d fallen out of favour with employers… They were too short, with too little off-the-job-training… The apprentice stayed the apprentice rather than mastering the skills needed.

Behind all of this has been a bit of an attitude problem: as a nation I’m afraid we’ve been technical education snobs.

We’ve revered the academic but treated vocational as second class – when we do it well, law, engineering, medicine – then we don’t even call it vocational.

Why has this has been tolerated for so long? I think the reason is the “O.P.C” problem. For so many opinion formers, commentators and, yes, politicians: vocational courses are POC courses: for ‘other people’s children’.

As the Prime Minister has been very clear – this has to change.

Young people not on the A-level route have two years of government funded education when they turn 16…precious time, precious investment in the future… And all too often it’s time and money used to train them to a low level in a skill the economy doesn’t need.

Let me be clear, the answer is not just encouraging more and more people to go to university…

It is introducing clear, high quality, technical paths to skilled jobs… Paths that are as respected and as easy to understand as the A-level-to-degree route.

Partnership

If we’re to achieve this, there are two vital partners for government.

The first is Further Education Colleges. For too long, Further Education has been something of a neglected sector, playing second fiddle to Higher Education… That needs to change.

Colleges will play an essential part in delivering the modern Industrial Strategy… They will be our key national infrastructure for technical education.

Of course, colleges do many important things for their communities… But their core purpose is to help people to move into and thrive in work. And providing world-class technical education – the knowledge and skills people need for the jobs of today and tomorrow – is central to that.

The second partner is, of course, employers. We can’t guarantee young people that a qualification is a clear path to a job unless we’re working side by side with the people who have the vacancies and the skills needs. That’s why we’re putting employers at the heart of every reform we’re making to technical education.

Ambition

I’m not promising an overnight revolution. This is a ten-year project. But in a decade’s time I want us to have a completely different perspective on technical education in this country…

The core test of our reforms will be this:

Today, in the UK, just 65% of our working population have completed upper secondary education, with qualifications at what, in the jargon, we call a Level 3 standard – the equivalent of A levels.

So one third do not; they have only GCSE-level qualifications, or below.

In Germany, that 65% is 87%…meaning a better chance at a skilled job, a higher wage, a career taking you where you want to go.

What does that mean in practical terms? Well, the difference to your wages from reaching a Level 3 or A-level equivalent qualification is about £40 a week – more than £2,000 a year.

I don’t think our young people are less talented, less ambitious or less capable than those in Germany …

In ten years time we should be able to look back on all the reforms we’ve made, and be able to say, yes, our young people now have the same – or ideally better – training opportunities than they do in Germany, or Holland, or Switzerland, or other leading systems.

Matching skills with the labour market need

How do we make this vision a reality? I believe there are four key elements.

The first is overcoming our system’s failure to match skills with the labour market need…

Right now, we have a training market that is driven by the choices colleges and other training providers make… For the people putting on the training there is good reason to go for cheap, popular courses that are easier to put on, easier to pass.

We need a strategy that means both the individuals choosing their courses and the colleges putting the courses on are incentivised to develop skills that match the labour market needs of the future… With the number of people training in proportion to the number of opportunities likely to be available.

We know, for example, that Germany trains around 11,000 hairdressers per year – in England, around 40,000 people train in hairdressing each year, in a country with fewer actual heads.

At the same time, employers in the construction sector struggle to fill over a third of their vacancies because they are unable to recruit people with the required skills.

We need a plan to better ensure supply matches demand…a plan to make sure people are going to be able to find productive, remunerative jobs at the end of their courses.

A big part of our Industrial Strategy is tailoring policy to local needs, the same goes for skills.

Simply put – there’s no point in training lots of people to be web designers if a town needs electroplaters.

So, when it comes to our new T Level qualifications, which I’ll be talking more about in a moment…

…Our T Level funding consultation proposes that colleges must have regard to local skills plans and strategies before deciding which T levels to offer.

I want to go further. All areas will have Local Industrial Strategies…. And I’m determined that employers should have real influence over what kind of courses colleges in their area are putting on.

Some great colleges are already making this happen – let’s make it universal.

As a starting point, today I’m publishing guidance on the role of our Skills Advisory Panels – local partnerships between public and private sector employers, local authorities and colleges and universities – setting out how they will work together to decide what skills are really needed in each local area.

I want this done well – so today I am announcing new support for every local area to fully understand and assess their skills needs now and in the future… Each Panel will get £75,000 to analyse their local skills needs, which could include employing a labour market analyst.

Clear paths to a job

The second element is the lack of clear, simple path for young people choosing technical study at 16.

Britain is unique worldwide in offering thousands upon thousands of training courses to our 16-year-olds, more than 10,000 in total.

But it’s hard to know for sure which course is actually valuable in the job market.

Often we find that these training courses teach about a broad sector, but they don’t help someone develop the depth of skills they need to succeed in the job.

Our new T Levels will change this… 25 high quality courses, with a clear line of sight to actual job roles …

We’ve worked with employers such as Fujitsu, IBM, EDF, GlaxoSmithKline, the Bank of England, KPMG, and the British Army to design rigorous content…

Crucially, both in the classroom and during the industrial placement, T Levels will focus on developing the skills needed to get, and perform well in, an actual job.

So looking at the first three T Levels being offered by around 50 colleges in 2020…

Pass your Education T Level then go and work as a teaching assistant or in an early years setting…

Pass Digital, Production and Design and apply to be a software development technician…

Complete the Design, Surveying and Planning T Level and become a civil engineering technician…

Clear paths to a skilled job.

And we will make sure that we’re not letting people who need a little more support fall through the gaps…

By making a ‘transition offer’ available to a number of young people who are not quite ready to do a T Level at 16… extra training so they’ll be ready to start by 17.

I’ll be setting out more details of this offer in the new year.

Today, as part of our T Level Action plan, I am also announcing the next set of T Levels we will roll out in 2021…

A Health T Level…
A Healthcare Science T Level…
And a Science T Level…
An Onsite Construction T Level…
A Building Services Engineering T Level…
A Digital Support and Services T Level…
And a Digital Business Services T Level.

When fully rolled out, we’ll be putting hundreds of millions of pounds in additional money behind T Levels every year…

Crucially, this will allow us to support the intensive 3 month industrial placements for every T Level student, so they can put into practice what they’ve learnt…developing their confidence and skills.

Already this year employers large and small are offering pilot placements to students…

But as T Levels are fully rolled out in the coming years we are going to need more and more employers to step up in every town and city, across the country. For businesses – this is your opportunity to build up the skills pipeline of the future.

As we roll T Levels out, we’re also reviewing the qualifications currently on offer…we don’t simply want to add 25 to the 10,000 plus that already exist…

There are going to be some tough decisions ahead as we think carefully about what we take away from the system as well as what we add – we’ll consult before deciding on the nature of qualifications needed. But I think we’d all agree – better to see young people with a smaller number of high quality choices rather than a plethora of often mediocre ones.

A clear path to higher skills

The third element I want to look at is the issue of ¬what comes after your vocational qualification…

A-level students, of course, often progress to a degree, but what’s the next step on your journey once you’ve completed a T Level or an initial apprenticeship?

Yes, many will now be wanting and, crucially, will be ready to step straight in to a skilled job.

But, equally, some will also be ready for the next level of training that can take them to an even higher skilled job…

The kind of training that helps you step up from being a cook to a chef…a bricklayer to a construction site supervisor…an aircraft maintenance fitter to an aircraft maintenance engineer…

According to the CBI, the biggest growth in jobs in the years ahead is expected to be in management and professional and technical roles –

And these roles will require the specialist skills which a higher technical training course could provide.

At the moment, people in the sector describe these training courses as ‘level 4 and 5’…

But a lot of people will look blank at this description – which is part of the problem.

Colleges and universities don’t offer much training at this level… Very few students do it compared to the numbers doing a degree or a lower level of technical training – partly because it’s not available and partly because they’re not aware of it.

And employers are also less aware of these training courses…which means recruitment is often either focused below the level needed or above…with some jobs being unnecessarily inflated to degree level. Which, it’s worth noting, can mean some people are paying for a degree they might not need.

It’s not just the lack of college courses that’s a problem here either…in recent years, we have not had enough apprenticeships that train people for more highly skilled jobs. When I visited Germany earlier this year I saw for myself how apprenticeships can be a ladder to more and more specialist, well paid occupations.

But in this country…last year more sixth form and college leavers went to Oxbridge than went on to do a higher level, that is to say a Level 4 or 5, apprenticeship…

I’m determined to properly establish higher technical training in this country – so that it’s recognised and sought after by employers and young people alike.

Right now, with dozens of different qualifications, courses and brands on the market, it’s baffling for employers and students alike.

But we do know there are good quality higher technical qualifications on the market already… What is missing is widespread clarity and confidence that these qualifications deliver the skills employers need.

That’s why I intend to establish a system of employer-led national standards for higher technical education which will be set by employers themselves. Through the Institute of Apprenticeships, we plan to identify and recognise existing and new qualifications that meet the knowledge and skills needed by employers.

I mentioned that Level 4/5 doesn’t mean a lot to most of us… I want us to start calling these courses what they are: higher technical qualifications …and develop clear national recognition…

Ensuring these qualifications are clearly badged and easy to recognise, meaning that employers are able to start looking for them on CVs and application forms, and advertising for them when recruiting to jobs at that level.

This process will be overseen by the Institute for Apprenticeships, who will soon become the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education… and we will have the first recognised qualifications in place from 2022 – ready for those first T Level students who will just have completed their course.

We will be consulting next year on how to deliver this new approach.

I expect higher training to be offered by high performing colleges and universities, alongside our National Colleges focused on specific industries such as High Speed Rail and Nuclear… And by the new Institutes of Technology we’re establishing across the country, which will specialise in delivering higher technical training.

Of course, it is essential that different bits of the technical education system also fit together – our reformed apprenticeships, T Levels, higher technical training…

The Institute of Apprenticeships have documented all the skilled jobs and occupations that you can get to through an apprenticeship or T Level…showing how you can progress from one job to another…that mapping should now extend to Higher Technical qualifications and beyond as well.

In this way, it will be clearer to everyone – young people, parents, employers and training providers – how, through high-quality technical education, you can get into and can progress to the top of your chosen profession.

Parity of esteem

Time to look at the fourth and overarching element: the issue of esteem. As I’ve said, we’ve long been technical education snobs in this country…

But our ultimate goal is to deliver parity of esteem when it comes to technical and academic routes…equally valid choices.

In order for technical education not simply to be something for other people’s children, it has to be something you want your child to do as well. That means it’s high quality and leads to a well-paid, rewarding skilled job.

Government can’t endow esteem on technical education, you can’t legislate for parity in this way…it’s our job to make it high quality, then employers and young people themselves will genuinely value it. Quality has to come first. Get that right and esteem will follow.

We also need to make clear to young people, and their parents – that a degree is not the only path to a great job.

When it comes to our schools and colleges, although we have published performance tables where destinations to further education, apprenticeships and employment are all counted…

We show how many students go to specific universities… without also showing how many students progress to higher technical training…

So we inherently imply that university is valued more highly than other routes.

This will end. In the future, our performance tables will lead with publishing a new measure…one measure: young people doing higher learning on either route.

And this could be a degree at university or higher technical training through an apprenticeship or a Higher Technical qualification.

I’m clear that the school that gets a young person onto a higher apprenticeship deserves as much praise as when it gets someone to university.

To be clear, the message here is not don’t do a degree – the message is simply you don’t have to do a degree.

With the growth in the knowledge economy and the demands of business – we will need a high number of graduates in the future, but we also need more people with higher technical skills.

We want young people to acquire the higher qualifications that lead to high skilled, more rewarding jobs – whether through a degree, a higher apprenticeship or higher technical qualifications.

And no longer should schools and colleges feel that they must push students down one route in order to be judged a success.

We also need to make sure that all young people get the advice and guidance they need to make choices about their future. Just over a year ago we published our careers strategy, setting out our plans to build a world class careers system.

Thanks to the hard work of our partners like The Careers & Enterprise Company, we are now seeing real changes in schools and colleges, with over 2000 business volunteers helping to connect young people with employers and I commend them for what they do.

Finally, I want us to break down some of the false barriers we’ve erected between academic and technical routes…

I don’t see any reason why higher technical training shouldn’t be open to certain A-level students as long as they have the prerequisite knowledge and practical skill –

Equally, I want T Level students, that want to, to be able to go to university to do relevant technical degrees.

This will of course depend on the T Level subject, but there will be an obvious path for, say, a Design, Surveying and Planning T Level student to then do a surveying degree or for an Accountancy T Level student to then do an accountancy degree. We will identify and work with specific universities well placed to lead the way on this.

And I’m pleased to be announcing today that UCAS has agreed to give a T Level UCAS tariff points in line with 3 A-levels. This reflects the size and complexity and demands of the qualification.

T Levels will be graded Pass, Merit or Distinction…and we are now discussing with UCAS exactly how points will be awarded per grade.

Conclusion

What does all this ultimately boil down to?

A clear quality technical path to a skilled job. More young people gaining higher skills. A more productive economy.

This won’t all change overnight – this is a ten year project to upgrade our nations’ skills…colleges playing their part as the national infrastructure for technical education, industry playing their part, creating and investing in the workforce of the future…

And we must see this through…

Even without the imperative of Brexit, productivity and skills are historic problems that need solving.

We have a modern Industrial Strategy that is all about making Britain fit for the future, in a world of rapid technological change… But it’s people that are at the heart of this strategy. It’s people that will make it live.

By investing in our technical education now, we can make sure that everyone is qualified for the jobs of today and tomorrow… That all our young people have the opportunities they need to succeed.

Thank you.

Damian Hinds – 2018 Speech at the Confederation of School Trusts Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, on 11 October 2018.

Good morning everyone. I am delighted to be able to join you for this historic conference – the official launch of the Confederation of School Trusts.

Together you have long been a strong and essential voice for the power of setting school leaders free when it comes to raising school standards.

As the Freedom and Autonomy for Schools National Association, for some years now you have worked alongside government to make sure more schools and school leaders have the freedom to make the best decisions on behalf of their pupils and their communities.

Under the leadership of Leora Cruddas, I know the next few years will be just as productive. And I know – new name aside – you will continue to be an important voice for the autonomy and for the benefit of multi-academy trusts.

Today, it is more clear than ever that your voice is needed.

Our country has a long and complex history when it comes to the status and structure of our schools.

If you just look at the last few decades we’ve had the introduction and then ending of grant maintained status followed by the City Technology Colleges – really the genesis of academies, then the first academies under Tony Blair, followed by their massive expansion under this government.

Slowly and surely, most have come to accept a fundamental point: it is heads and school leaders that should be in the driving seat for deciding what is best for their schools, accountable to their pupils and parents.

Today I want to re-make the case for freedom, for diversity, and for accountability in our school system.

For going forwards, not backwards, as we strive to achieve a world-class education for every child, whatever their background.

It’s worth, first of all, underlining just how far we’ve come on improving our schools these last eight years. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our teachers and school leaders.

There are 163,000 more six-year-olds now on track to be fluent readers than in 2012.

A reformed curriculum and qualifications.

We have seen the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers narrow across all stages of education.

But the job isn’t finished.

I want every child, in every classroom, in all parts of the country to have a world-class education.

No one left behind, whatever their background. That is what I will strive to achieve.

And I’ve said many times since I took this job that education is a people business. There are no and there can be no great schools without great teachers and great leaders…

As you know, in everything we’ve been doing to improve education these last few years, we have put a strong focus on handing power back to schools, back to school leaders – recognising that you are the ones best placed to make the right decisions for your pupils, your communities.

It’s when you give good people the power to make their own decisions that you unleash their creativity, allow them to drive improvements based on what they know works.

To this end we have opened hundreds of new Free Schools, drawing in talent and expertise from different groups and backgrounds, giving local communities and parents more freedom and choice, so every child can go to a good local school that suits their needs.

Take the Reach Academy, Feltham, a small school set up in an area of high deprivation by a group of teachers who felt that pupils don’t always flourish in larger educational settings.

The size of the school allows teachers to work closely with parents and pupils they have high expectations for what every child can achieve. And the results are impressive, Ofsted rated the school ‘outstanding’ in 2014, and the school was one of the top performing schools nationally for progress in 2017.

We have also helped many more schools become an academy and join a Multi Academy Trust.

The vision behind Multi Academy Trusts is a simple one. It’s about schools coming together to achieve more than they can on their own.

Whereas in the past schools could be trapped in poorly-performing Local Authorities that lacked the capacity to help them improve. Now there is real choice for schools – they’re not just prisoners of their geography they can join a Multi Academy Trust and get the support they need to improve.

And the support they need to innovate.

Take WISE Academies in the North East, which – since 2012 – has taken on nine sponsored academies all of which previously had significant performance concerns.

This trust has reduced teacher workload through more efficient lesson planning and the creation of shared learning resources they have introduced new ways of teaching such as maths mastery techniques brought over from Singapore.

What is the result? Every school that has been inspected since joining the trust has been judged as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

Going back further, there are schools like King Solomon Academy, which opened as a new academy as part of the Ark network in 2007.

Serving a highly diverse community in one of the most economically disadvantaged wards in London, Ark King Solomon has twice been judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. While the Academy’s Progress 8 scores in 2016 and 2017 were among the best in the country.

Are there examples of trusts where things have gone wrong and children have been let down? Yes.

Should we accept that? No, not for a moment. Rare as these cases are, I’ll be talking more about how we prevent them from happening again in a moment.

Each and every year there are new examples of leading Multi Academy Trusts turning around languishing schools and improving results.

And, in addition, we’re seeing trailblazing schools and school trusts seizing the chance to innovate. It should not surprise us that the majority of academy schools choose to become so.

But let’s step back a moment. What would happen if this was reversed? And we took power away from heads and school leaders?

At the end of key stage 4, pupils in secondary free schools have made more progress on average than pupils in other types of state-funded schools.

Today, in the Academy Programme, more than half a million children now study in a good or outstanding sponsored academy, which typically replaced underperforming schools. Of the schools taken out of local authority control and made into a sponsored academy, by the end of last year, 65 per cent of those which had been inspected saw their grades improve from inadequate to either good or outstanding.

The other great thing about our system today is that it addresses failure. In the past, schools that failed were allowed to stay under local authority control for far too long. The academies changed all that.

Consider Beaver Green Primary School in Ashford, Kent – a school judged Inadequate by Ofsted in 2013 and with a long history of underperformance. It became an academy in 2015 and last year the school was Ofsted-rated Good in all areas, with the Early Years Provision being rated as outstanding.

Or how about Newfield Secondary School in Sheffield – it was inadequate from 2006 until October 2010.

But when the school became an academy it really started to improve.

And it was inspected in March 2017 for the first time as an academy and was judged Good.

What I hope is clear from me is that my strategy is to trust you to get on with the job.

Let me give you an example. Take mobile phones.

We heard a couple of months ago how France would be banning mobile phones in schools.

Please be in no doubt what I think about mobile phones.

I firmly believe that kids in schools should not be on their phones. I strongly support schools that ban phones.

But when people asked me if I was going to follow the example of France and impose a national ban – I said no.

Because that’s autonomy in practice. Heads know best how to run their schools and achieve the objectives they want without any unintended consequences. And meanwhile we have given teachers the powers to confiscate phones if necessary, and also to investigate cyber bullying that goes on beyond the school gates.

There are other areas where I want to proactively stress schools’ autonomy.

One thing I’ve realised doing this job is that too often schools get told that my department or Ofsted expect them to follow the latest fads and fashions in the sector, no matter how time-consuming for teachers and how little evidence there is that they actually benefit the child…

I’m talking about things like excessive progress monitoring, annotated seating plans, triple marking, deep marking, DIRT marking, colour coded marking, you-name-it marking. All things that have added, quite unnecessarily, to teacher workload over the years.

That’s why I asked Professor Becky Allen to chair a workload advisory group, to understand why schools are drowning in data and make recommendations to change this. Their report will be published soon, and will set out actions to give schools greater flexibility in the choices they make about how data is used.

And that’s why Amanda Spielman, myself and others recently made a video stressing that schools are free to follow their own judgement when it comes to lesson plans, the data they collect, the marking policies. I say it again: you don’t need to do any of this for me, for DfE, for Ofsted.

So what next for our school system?

Earlier in the year I launched our latest round of applications to become a free school – specifically targeting areas where there is a real demand for good schools.

And yet again we’ve had a great deal of interest… I’m looking forward to launching the next wave soon.

And from Monday we will start receiving bids to open special and alternative provision free schools. We are also inviting applications from our best universities to open new maths schools.

In 2015, there were around 3,200 Academies and Free Schools in Multi Academy Trusts. We have now around 6,200 this year and I think that’s a trend which will continue. In the last 12 months, we have received 600 applications to convert to an academy.

At the same time there will still be diversity – this is one of the strengths of our education system.

Ultimately a good school is a good school – and that’s what we’re encouraging, whether academies and free schools, the maintained sector, comprehensives, grammar schools, faith schools and more.

We’re also encouraging more people from different professions and backgrounds to sign up to be governors and trustees.

We have already had some success in recruiting trustees from business and industry through our Academy Ambassadors programme to sit on boards.

And in June I issued a call to arms, urging individuals to sign up, and their employers to let them… At the same time the National Governance Association launched their Everyone on Board campaign.

And since then we’ve seen the number of people registering their interest to be a governor through our Inspiring Governance programme double – with over 200 signing up every month.

I also want to say a few words about accountability.

Of course, autonomy can never be absolute. Otherwise we’re talking about autocracy.

Clearly, accountability remains vital.

And, as I said earlier, children only have one chance at an education – they all deserve the best.

That’s why we have Ofsted, inspections and performance measures.

We now have a better assessment system for schools.

Whereas once we measured a school’s performance by its A-C pupils – now, through progress 8, everyone’s progress counts, everyone’s performance is measured.

This stops a disproportionate focus on the C/D borderline, to the detriment of others at both ends of the scale.

And it’s fairer to those schools with the challenging intakes. It properly captures the progress they actually make on behalf of their pupils – by taking into account where they started.

There’s still improvements we can make.

First and foremost, I don’t want our accountability system to stifle schools and drive workload – I want it to be supportive, helping schools that need it to improve, intervening only where there’s failure, and leaving the rest to get on with it.

To this end, I recently published a statement setting out key principles for how I see the accountability system working in the future, which we will be consulting on shortly. In the future, an Ofsted Inadequate judgement alone would lead to hard action to convert a Local Authority maintained school to an academy. And schools will no longer face those visits from Regional Schools Commissioners’ advisers that can feel a lot like inspections.

On those rare occasions when a school is failing – be in no doubt – we will intervene fast and take the serious action necessary. We will also offer support to schools that need it sooner – preventing failure before it happens.

What about MAT accountability?

Trusts clearly have an increasingly important role in our system and we need to make sure that our system of oversight and decision-making keeps up with this. Of course, as this audience is aware, we already hold MATs to account in many ways.

When it comes to finances, academies are in fact more transparent in their reporting than other schools, for example independent scrutiny of annual accounts.

It’s because we have this transparency we know all about it when there are failures – and we are well-placed to take swift action.

For example, recently strengthening the requirements in the Academies Financial Handbook on related party transactions and executive pay.

There’s more we can do however. I want you to have confidence that our assessments are transparent and fair. And I want to make sure that schools and parents can easily access vital information about a particular trust, and the performance of the system as a whole.

I have also been clear that I do not want to introduce anything that would create more workload for teachers, leaders, and governors.

It’s about getting the balance right between effective assessment – without imposing new burdens with little benefit.

That is why I am working with the sector to figure out how this will work.

In particular I want to hear proposals from MAT and school leaders; your views are crucial.

So during this term we will be getting out and talking to the sector, unions and, importantly, school leaders themselves. We are convening roundtables and meetings with trust chairs and CEOs across the country.

I know that CST are thinking about what a new model of MAT assessment might look like and will be sharing that with us, so as members I encourage you to contribute to that.

Freedom. Diversity. Accountability.

That is the school system I believe in.

And I think it’s the system you believe in too.

I have met many headteachers and many school trusts since taking on this job including those serving some of our most disadvantaged communities. And I know they are driven by a deep sense of mission and a moral desire to provide equality of opportunity to all pupils, wherever they are born and whatever their background.

To them, to you, I have a simple message: thank you.

Looking back on all the reforms we’ve made these last eight years – we’ve come a long way. In particular, narrowing the attainment gap between children from different backgrounds. And yet – that gap is still too wide.

Some places have seen dramatic gains, but others still need extra help.

We must keep going, spreading opportunity to the parts of the country where children are still let down by the depth and breadth of education available. Every child should be able to go to a great school.

I want us to move forwards, together, working with organisations like yours. Listening to you and, yes, being challenged by you.

Working together to offer every child a world-class education.

Thank you.

Damian Hinds – 2018 Speech at Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, at the Conservative Party Conference held in Birmingham on 2 October 2018.

Good afternoon everyone and thank you James for that introduction. James said a good education can do amazing things, and I certainly agree with that sentiment.

You know whenever I ask anyone to think back to their education, what really made a difference for them when they were at school, you know I have yet to come back – to get the answer back – “it was a smart board” or “a text book” or “an exam” or “a scheme of work”. The answer that comes back is always about a person. People talk about Miss Smith, Mr Jones, Mrs O’Neil. Because education is all about that person standing at the front of the class. Those inspiring individuals, those 450,000 teachers that we have out there, they deserve and they have our admiration, our respect and our thanks.

And you know since 2010, those teachers have made some amazing things happen. Assisted by the reforms initiated by my predecessors, by Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening and of course Michael Gove. We are back in the international top ten for primary reading. We have a reformed curriculum and examinations. We have thousands of schools that have been set free as academies. We’ve got 1.9 million more young people studying in good or outstanding schools. And the gap has been narrowed. The gap between the rich and the poor in attainment has narrowed at every stage and every phase from nursery school to university entry.

Now, that is a record of which you can be proud. You should be proud. But you shouldn’t be satisfied. We should not be satisfied until we can say that we truly have a world class education for everyone. Wherever they come from, wherever they’re going and whatever route they’re taking through our education system. Until we have made sure that in every region and in every group of our society, opportunity is truly equal.

And of course a world class education depends on our investment in the future. I say investment, because education spending isn’t just public spending. It is an investment. An investment in the future of those children going through our schools. Also an investment in the future of our country. And as you can see, we are strong investors in education when you look at us compared to other key comparator nations like the G7.

We have also been investing heavily in the capacity of our system to ensure we have a good supply of good and outstanding places in our schools. In contrast to Labour, who cut 100,000 places in our school system in the years running up to 2010, by the end of this decade, we will have added a million school places to our system. And we think that when a school is a good school, when it’s giving a good education, and when it’s popular with parents, that school should be able to expand so that more young people can benefit from what’s on offer. That includes if it is a grammar school. And we also believe that there is and always has been a very important role in our system for faith schools and we will continue to invest in free schools that have brought such diversity and innovation to our system and I was proud to see another 53 free schools opening this term for the new academic year as well as the hundreds already open.

I can see in the front row and – just give me a moment to introduce and to thank them – the brilliant DfE ministerial team, starting with Nick Gibb who has been there from the very start and has done so much to drive academic standards in our schools, and particularly the focus on early reading and phonics. Anne Milton with her infectious dedication to building up the skills base in our country, to apprenticeships and to colleges. Sam Gyimah, working alongside our excellent higher education sector and being such an effective voice for the student. Nadhim Zahawi, looking after early years and special needs and how we look after those children who are the most vulnerable in our society, those who are in care. And Lord Agnew, our minister in the Lords, who has brought his own expertise from a leading multi- academy trust to his role as Minister for the school system. We are also very lucky to be supported in Parliament by our team of David Morris, Jack Brereton, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, our Commons Whip Amanda Milling and James Younger in the Lords.

Now, we are all spurred on by three key imperatives. The first is progress. Because we think and I know you think that it is self-evident that every generation should have better opportunities than the last. And you think that every year we need to raise our sights higher and we need to reach wider to make sure we unlock the talent and potential in every child in our country.

Secondly, we know that on the education of this generation of children lies the future prospects and prosperity of our country. Because it’s productivity growth that allows people to be paid a little bit more each year and allows us to afford more for the excellent public services which we all value so much.

Third, preparedness: being ready for whatever comes in an uncertain world. Part of this is about being ready to seize the opportunities that will come in global trade after we leave the European Union. But it is also about preparedness for the change that’s happening in the world as we speak. If you think about the technological advances that are happening at the moment. If you think about artificial intelligence, voice computing, the internet, advanced robotics. Any of these on their own could constitute a revolution. But right now they are happening all at the same time. And so we’ve got a pace of change that is truly unprecedented. Now, people sometimes talk about all this technological change in the world as a threat and something to be overcome and there are issues to deal with. But it is an opportunity for those who are ready, those who are equipped to take advantage of this change and we need to make sure that this country is one of the countries that seizes technology and makes it work for us, not one of the countries that technological change gets done to.

So to deal with these challenges, to take the maximum advantage of these opportunities, now more than ever before, we need a focused and sustained plan for education and skills.

That starts with academic standards. And the way that the knowledge economy has developed and with the emerging superpowers of the economies of the east, we can’t afford any let up on academic standards and we need to go further and we need to make sure we are putting enough emphasis on the subjects of future, for the global Britain of the future in this changed world. So we need to think about the languages of mankind and the languages of machines.

We also need to make sure that all our young people leave our education system with the basic essential skills that they’re going to need with them in life whatever path they end up taking, whatever job they ends up doing. Central to that is English and Maths. We have made a lot of progress on English and Maths. But we need to go further. Today, I’m announcing 32 primary schools and 21 colleges which will act as centres of excellence to spread best practice respectively for early literacy teaching and the teaching of Maths aged 16 and above.

We also know and any teacher will tell you that good teaching and learning relies on a calm classroom. Pupil behaviour is absolutely essential. And so I’m also announcing today a further £10 million to support the spreading of best practice and knowledge on behaviour management and classroom management so that can be very widely deployed.

Now, I think we can say that there are genuinely large parts of our academic system which are truly word class. Many of our state schools, large parts of our university sector, are world class but there is another area which in years gone by has not had enough focus. I’m talking about technical and vocational education, which for decades has not had as much attention as it should. We have already made great strides forwards increasing the quality level of apprenticeships and with more people starting on higher level apprenticeships and even degree level apprenticeships.

You will have heard the announcement yesterday that we’re going to accelerate the process of moving on to these higher standards, employer-set apprenticeships that young people benefit from so much.

You have all heard of A Levels right? Tell me yes. You’ve all heard of A Levels but you may not yet have heard of T Levels? Who has heard of T Levels? Good, well those of you who haven’t yet, you will do soon, because within a couple of years we are bringing in this new qualification for 16 to 18 year olds called the T Level. It will be a direct alternative to A Levels, but focused on those key vocational subjects. Today I’m announcing a £38 million capital pot to make sure that the colleges teaching those first T Levels from 2020 can do so with really world class equipment and facilities.

And you also know how important careers advice is and guidance for young people and the key role that is played by careers advisers in schools, and so we are also going to be doubling the number of trained careers leaders in schools so young people are aware about all those different routes. So they don’t think there is only one route they can take to success and they are aware of all the different career options available to them.

We are also going to be reviewing the higher level qualifications, those at so-called level four and level five, that are the direct alternative to going to university for young people at 18, and we carry on our design work on the national retraining scheme, so that all throughout their lives people have the opportunity to upgrade and change their skills, so that lifelong learning stops being a phrase and starts being a reality.

Now, qualifications are clearly an absolutely essential part of education. They are, if you like, the paper passports that you leave school or college or university with, and take with you into your career and into your life. But they are not the whole of the story, and I invite you now to think back to the kids you were at school, and see if you can remember one that left school with nothing or next to nothing, by way of GCSEs or possibly, in some cases, O levels, depending on our age. Someone who came away with almost nothing in qualifications, but they still went on and did something really quite amazing in life. Can anyone think of that person? I am going to suggest to you that quite often what makes the difference is something that we might call character. Something that you will never see on a certificate of education, but you know it when you see it. I mean things like determination and drive. I mean the tenacity to stick with the task at hand, and the ability to bounce back from the knocks that life inevitably brings. Now these character traits are closely connected with something I hear all the time about from employers. So-called workplace skills. Things like teamwork. Commitment. The ability to look at the customer in the eye, and want to make the sale. Character is also connected to general health and well-being, and we are much more aware of this area, and rightly so, in the education sector now than in decades gone by. That’s why I am pleased that we are going to be introducing mental health education into schools within the next couple of years.

Now actually, I don’t think you can just walk into a class of 28 kids one day and say today, we are going to learn about character. Today we are going to do drive and determination. Of course you can’t, but these are things you pick up a lot from what happens at school, and in particular, I think, extracurricular activities play an important part. So I’m going to be working closely with Jeremy Wright on the new youth performance partnerships, and working with Gavin Williamson to make sure that more young people can get involved with the cadets. And for many young people, it is sport that really unlocks their talents and potential. In the last few years, we have been able to commit, to vote over £900 million to the primary sports premium. And now, working together with Tracy Crouch, the Sports Minister, we are going to be bringing in a new cross Government initiative for a school sports action plan, to make sure that sporting opportunities, and we will do this together with bodies like the RFU, with the Premier League, and with England netball, making sure that those opportunities are spread as widely as possible and that every child is able to benefit from what sports can bring.

Ladies and gentlemen, like many of you, I have been coming to this conference for many years, and in all those years that I have been coming, as a YC, an activist, a Parliamentary candidate and more recently as an MP, I think around the corridors and conference centres like this, and around the fringe events, and the cafes and the bars, I think I have heard more conversations about education than I have about anything else, because we Conservatives know that education is the key to the future.

It was the first One Nation Conservative, the original, Benjamin Disraeli who said, “Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends.” Since then, it has been Conservatives who have most resolutely acted upon that. From Balfour to Butler, from Baker to Gove.

But you know as we stand here today in 2018, we can’t take for granted what has been achieved since 2010. Because we learnt from Liverpool last week, that the Labour Party wants to put it all at risk. They want to undo our reforms and turn back the clock. I was thinking about what a parent would think as they heard the speech of the Shadow Education Secretary, when she said she wanted to take all publicly funded schools back into Council control, back into what she called the ‘mainstream public sector’ with what she called a ‘common rule book’. Well you know, for a parent whose child has been thriving at a free school or an academy, how they must have shuddered when they heard those words. But ladies and gentleman, we will stand up for those families, we will defend the right for those children to have an outstanding education, because while Labour go off on their ideological journeys, that child only has one chance at their education and they deserve the very best.

So far from going backwards, ladies and gentleman, we need to move forwards with our reforms. We need to ensure that the vocational and the technical, are absolutely on a par with the academic. We need to make sure that we extend our reforms in all regions, in all parts of the country. That all parts of our society have equal opportunity, that everywhere we see raised expectations and raised aspirations, and when that happens, then we will be able to say, this is a world class education for everyone. Thank you.

Damian Hinds – 2018 Speech to Children’s Services Sector

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, in Manchester on 5 July 2018.

It’s great to be able to join you here today and to have this opportunity to speak to so many of you.

Particularly so in Manchester because today the country is celebrating the 70th birthday of the NHS – which, of course, was launched not far from here by the then Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan, at Park Hospital in Manchester, now Trafford General Hospital.

Today the nation is saying thank you to all those people who make the NHS what it is – the doctors, nurses, paramedics, support staff. We can never pay them sufficient tribute.

But standing here today, there are many more people, who deserve greater acknowledgement and thanks for dedicating their lives to public service.

You and your teams have an enormous impact on our society and some of the most vulnerable people in it, an effect that stretches far in to the future.

And I wanted to begin my remarks today with a heartfelt thank you to your teams, from the office staff to the frontline workers. Thank you for your commitment, your hard work and your dedication. Thank you for all the patience, empathy and resilience that is required to do jobs like yours.

Of course, many jobs can be challenging, intense, long hours, but few jobs come with quite the same kind of stakes as yours. The weight of responsibility when you are charged with protecting and supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society; the unique pressure of making decisions that will not just affect one child, but whole families. Whole communities.

I’m well aware that, at times, our social workers witness life at its bleakest, humanity at its most desperate… They glimpse worlds that many of us never see – and, perhaps, try not to see.

But, then, they and you also bring a lot of hope in to people’s lives. So many children and families depend on you for your support.

Which, of course, you do not always receive a lot of thanks for.

Indeed, I know when it comes to social work, celebrating the successes can never be quite what it is in other workplaces. Not because they aren’t hard-won but because success is rarely something you will hear heard shout about, success is what to many families feels like normal.

And, of course, there are no headlines about the children being protected thanks to your efforts, the families who get the support they need to stay together, the children who you find good homes for and good schools for.

But as a society, we do owe you a debt of gratitude – a debt I want to acknowledge today.

One of the things that has come across to me since starting this job and speaking to social workers, teachers, staff at my own Department for Education, is that you come to feel responsible for an enormous and diverse family: concerned with child protection and nurture, education and character development, worrying about the preparation for and transition to adulthood and will the child of today be ready for the world of tomorrow.

The same questions we ponder as parents for our own children.

And for children growing up in 2018: on one hand, you look at life expectancy and technology, opportunities for travel, record employment – in some ways it seems young people have more opportunity than ever.

At the same time, we have to recognise that there are unique pressures on children growing up now that didn’t exist a generation ago, as they navigate a virtual world as well as a real one. One in ten children and young people have a diagnosable mental health condition, which is a shocking statistic.

For those children with disadvantages that start from birth, or even before, it is much more difficult. They depend on our support from their earliest years, right through to adulthood.

And, yes, we have made significant progress on behalf of these children:

We introduced 15 hours of free early education a week for the most disadvantaged two-year-olds, which 72% of eligible two-year-olds now take up;
We are trialling new projects to support parents to read at home with their children to help with early language and literacy;
Our £200million Innovation programme in children’s social care projects is helping us find new and better ways of supporting vulnerable children;
Our Pupil Premium has made sure there is more support for those children who start school behind throughout their time at school;
And we’ve seen the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers at GCSE level shrink by 10% since 2011;
And we’re doing more to support care leavers when they finish school, including a £1,000 bursary for care leavers starting an apprenticeship.
But of course there is a great deal more to do.

Yes, there are examples of high performing Local Authorities and schools that defy the odds, with children succeeding despite a difficult start in life.

But, children in need across the piece still have some of the worst outcomes at every stage of their education – in early years, they are two thirds as likely as peers to meet the required standard, by GCSE they are just a quarter as likely as peers to achieve good grades.

And these groups also struggle later in life. Many of them end up leaving education early and experience joblessness. Too many end up on a pathway to welfare or even prison.

We must be more ambitious for the most vulnerable kids, helping them to overcome the difficult starts and disadvantages. That is what progress for our country should mean.

I have the same aspirations for the most vulnerable, disadvantaged children in our society, as I do for anyone.

Whether they have special educational needs, whether they are in care, or come from a troubled home, I want every child to be able to do their best.

So, high ambitions, high expectations for every child. I’m going to talk about a number of priority areas for achieving this today.

To begin with, I wanted to say a few words about the workforce. Nadhim will be saying more about this later.

But I’m also going to stress my personal commitment to the people who actually deliver the care, on the front line. I’m determined to help you recruit, retain and develop the best, building on our great schemes like Step Up and Frontline to help recruit bright graduates, but also supporting existing social workers to get the skills and knowledge they need through new qualifications, continuing professional development, our leadership development programme.

People are by far our best asset in this effort – it’s the people on the frontline who have the most significant impact on children’s lives and I’m committed along with Nadhim to championing this profession.

I want to turn now to one of the profession’s most fundamental responsibilities. A responsibility that we all share – that of keeping children safe.

We know the devastating consequences when we fail in this most sacred of duties. We need no reminders of the individual children whose names are indelibly written on our collective conscience.

Driving improvement is about those few terrible cases, but it is also about the many: the estimated one in five children who will have had some contact with children’s social care by the age of five.

In response, Ofsted now have a better framework for inspection, based on a better understanding of risk. The Government have also been quick to intervene directly where the standard of care has simply not been good enough.

And I’m pleased that since June last year, 12 local authorities have improved their Ofsted rating from inadequate to requires improvement or good under Ofsted’s Single Inspection Framework, following intervention.

We know that Children’s Services Trusts are improving services – Children’s social care services in Doncaster are now ‘Good’, having improved by two Ofsted judgements since the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust took over services in 2014.

But, of course, we shouldn’t be waiting for failure when we could instead prevent it. And that’s why our new £20million improvement strategy for children’s social care is helping councils share best practice and deliver peer-to-peer support.

And if safeguarding is a fundamental responsibility, I’m clear that it is also a shared one, which is why yesterday we announced our revised statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children This puts in place a stronger and more collaborative local approach to safeguarding children and promoting their welfare.

We will now see a more integrated system where the police and health services work with local authorities and with schools and early year’s providers.

I mentioned the poor outcomes for Children in Need and we have launched a review, to understand precisely why this happens, and what works to improve them.

We know Children in Need are more likely to have mental health needs but as I’ve said this is a wider problem, affecting too many children. And we’ll soon be publishing further detail on our £300 million plans to improve mental health services for all children and young people – including reducing waiting times and mental health leads in schools.

I also want to talk in some detail about our efforts on behalf of children with Special Educational Needs and disabilities.

Right now, around 15% of children have special educational needs. These are often the already vulnerable and disadvantaged children who are much more likely to be identified with these needs. Half of children in need are identified with special educational needs.

And, let’s be clear, our ambition for these children is exactly the same as it is for all children – we want them to be able to do their best in school and in college and reach their potential, and, afterwards, to find employment and lead happy and fulfilled lives.

Since 2014, we introduced major reforms to support these children – and I want to thank you and your teams for helping to deliver these reforms.

You have now reviewed over 98% of SEN statements, transferring children to Education, Health and Care plans where appropriate. The next step is to focus on driving up the quality of these plans.

And you can see many examples of local authorities, schools and colleges who are taking innovative approaches to working with these children and achieving great results. For example, Ofsted and CQC local area inspections have reported that:

In Gloucestershire, the local authority is successfully developing post-16 internships through strong collaboration with local colleges and employers. As a result, young people who have SEND are increasingly successful in gaining high-quality work experience.

And in Wiltshire, the proportion of 19-year-olds with SEN support with qualifications at level 2 including English and mathematics is rising, and an increasing number of young people who have SEN and/or disabilities are getting and sustaining paid employment.

However, the experiences of children and their parents is clearly inconsistent across education, health and social care – with too many parents still saying it’s a fight to access services for their child.

Ultimately, the gap in outcomes between children with SEND and other children is still far too wide. In particular, when they leave school, young people with an EHC plan are still twice as likely to be out of education, employment and training.

This needs to change. And I do recognise here that both Local Authorities, schools and colleges are feeling the pressure when it comes to budgets.

While we had record investment in the education for children with complex SEND at £6 billion this year – it’s clear that budgets are under pressure. And, frankly, this is difficult – I can’t say today that I have all the answers. But I am listening to your concerns.

And, today, I want to set out some key ways I believe we can work together, in terms of both addressing the pressure on budgets and delivering the best for children with SEND.

Firstly, on the role of mainstream schools in meeting special educational needs.

We know there has been a steady movement of children with special educational needs out of mainstream schools and into specialist provision, alternative provision and home education.

At the same time, rates of exclusion have begun to rise after a period of having calmed down.

And I hear too many stories about off-rolling, with schools finding ways to remove pupils, outside of the formal exclusions system. And of what is, essentially, pre-emptive exclusion, where parents looking at secondary schools are actively or in some way subtly discouraged from applying to a particular school for their child.

And I want to be clear right now: this is not okay. SEND pupils are not someone else’s problem. Every school is a school for pupils with SEND; and every teacher is a teacher of SEND pupils.

And all schools and colleges – alongside central and local government – have a level of responsibility here, it cannot just be left to a few.

Nor should we forget that a significant consequence of this trend away from mainstream schools into specialist provisions is extra pressure on council’s high needs budgets.

Children, young people and parents should – and do – have a strong say in all of this, and I am clear that specialist provision can be the right choice for those with more complex needs.

But mainstream schools and colleges – with the right support and training – should also be able to offer strong support for many more children and young people with EHC plans, as well as high quality SEN Support for those without plans.

So I want to both equip and incentivise schools to do better for children and young people with SEND.

This includes working with Ofsted to make sure our accountability system sufficiently rewards schools for their work with pupils who need extra support, and to encourage schools to focus on all pupils, not just the highest achievers.

Second, I want to look at how my department, working with the Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England, can support local authorities and NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to more effectively plan and commission SEND provision.

In addition, I will be asking Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission to design a programme of further local area SEND inspections to follow the current round, due to conclude in 2021; and for their advice on further inspection or monitoring of those areas required to produce a ‘Written Statement of Action’.

And thirdly, I want to increase our efforts to help young people with SEND access opportunities that will help them find employment – building on the work we’re already doing such as the supported internships programme.

SEND is a huge priority for my department – and we’ll be saying more about all of this in the coming months.

Another place where we need to raise our ambition, a place where the children with these different additional needs often end up together – in Alternative Provision.

Here again, we know there are amazing examples of outstanding Alternative Provision settings going above and beyond to help children in challenging circumstances to achieve their potential.

But, still, the quality varies greatly – too often expectations for pupils are set too low and when they reach the age of 16, they are not well set up to move on to further study, further training or a job.

Earlier this year I published a roadmap for reforming Alternative Provision that will see us focus on sharing best practice across the sector.

I also launched the AP Innovation Fund, and I look forward to announcing successful bids very soon.

I’m committed to improving the Alternative Provision offer for all pupils.

At the same time, I am clear that pupils should only be placed in alternative provision when it best meets their needs.

Moreover, I am clear that permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort.

Which is why, earlier this year, we asked Edward Timpson to carry out a review in to exclusions, in particular looking in to why certain groups of pupils – including those with SEND and particularly ethnic minority pupils – are more likely to be excluded than others.

I know that, after opening his call for evidence, Edward received over 900 responses from parents, schools, local authorities and other organisations. He has also been talking to experts in local authorities and schools. We expect him to report back by the end of the year.

The final point I want to make this afternoon is around the importance of supporting care leavers when they leave school.

It can be a very lonely, very frightening time. And we share a responsibility to act as a corporate parent, making sure that care leavers get the support they need to make a successful transition from care to independence and adult life.

We know care leavers often say they don’t know what support they may be entitled to. That is why we are introducing the local offer – one document, designed by each local authority together with their care leavers, setting out their legal entitlements, and also any discretionary support that the local authority provides, such as exempting care leavers from paying Council Tax or free access to all of the Council’s leisure services.

We hope that the local offer will create a ‘race to the top’ with authorities comparing and contrasting their local offers with those of other councils and asking the question ‘if that council is offering council tax exemptions, why can’t we?’

However, I fully appreciate that councils can’t do it all by themselves. Nadhim will be talking later about our care leaver covenant that we will launch in the autumn – which is all about how central government departments, businesses and wider civil society can all make a specific offer of support to care leavers.

We can talk about the cost to society – both economic and social – if we pay insufficient attention to those children who have the most difficult starts in life and the biggest barriers to overcome.

But, in the end, this what you do is about doing what’s right. It is a moral right that these children should have the opportunity to reach their potential, as well as every other child.

That means not tolerating low expectations. It means setting our ambitions high and all of us working together – government, councils, schools, the health service, police – encouraging innovation to figure out what works, celebrating success and spreading best practice.

It is not easy – but we need to stick at it. So all children have the highest standard of education, training and care…so they can gain the knowledge, skills and resilience needed to build happy, fulfilled, independent lives.

I commit to working together, to make sure every child can do their best.

Damian Hinds – 2018 Speech at National Association of Headteachers Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, at the National Association of Headteachers Conference on 4 May 2018.

I’m delighted to join you here today, and for the opportunity to speak directly to so many heads and school leaders.

Since I started this job in January, one of my first priorities was to go out and visit schools, visit nurseries, visit colleges.

You can read a lot of papers and talk to a lot of officials in the civil service – but nothing beats meeting the people who bring education to life.

And, of course, no two schools are the same but what I’ve seen everywhere is this enormous passion, enormous level of commitment and dedication that you just don’t see in every profession.

With so many teachers telling me how deeply they enjoy what they do. The creativity. The freedom. The joy of learning, helping to develop young minds.

Looking around this conference room, I know that all of you want to lead great schools, to create a culture where teachers love their jobs and where children do their best.

As Secretary of State for Education, my simple ambition is for all children, whatever their background, to go to a good school where they are inspired to learn and can fulfil their potential.

I want us, together, to narrow the gap for the places left behind and provide better opportunities for the children who have the hardest start in life.

And in aiming for this I know that in education there is nothing more important than the people who are making it happen.

When I ask people to think back to their own days of school – about what they most remember from school, what made the difference for them, I have yet to hear anyone mention the smartboard. Or textbook, or a computer, or an exam. It is always Ms Smith or Mr Davies.

There are no great schools without great teachers and leaders.

And of course great schools thrive under great leaders – which is why I want to work with you. It’s why I am determined to champion your profession.

Working with you to raise its status, helping to attract and retain more brilliant people to teach in our schools.

In short, I will do everything in my power to make sure teaching remains one of the most fulfilling jobs anyone can do.

One of my most urgent tasks is, therefore, to look at the barriers that can drive teachers, and leaders, out of the profession and may put people off in the first place.

Top of the list here is workload. Workload comes from different places.

Sometimes it can come from schools themselves, and policies on marking and data collection for example.

It can come directly from specific requirements set by government.

But it can also come indirectly from the pressures inherent in the accountability system.

And today I’m going to talk quite a lot about those pressures and about that system.

I don’t need to tell anybody here that accountability is vital. Children only get one shot at an education and we owe it to them that they can get the best, where they are being let down we need to act quickly – so no one ends up left behind.

But, that sort of action is rarely needed.

In fact, standards in our classrooms are higher than ever. 89% of schools, and 90% of your primary schools, are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

This is not to say that the system that we have right now is working perfectly.

We all know that if we went outside this room and tried explaining to someone not in the education sector, about Regional Schools Commissioners, Ofsted, MATs, coasting, below the floor – they would look pretty blank.

But what I’ve found from speaking to many of you these last few months is that even within the profession and within the sector, there can be confusion.

Confusion about the different actors within the system…who has the power to do what and on what basis, the exact circumstances that could lead to enforced structural or leadership change at a school.

All of this means that the spectre of our accountability system can loom large over schools.

Fear of inspection. Fear of a single set of bad results. Fear of being forcibly turned into an academy – all of this can create stress and anxiety, and that can percolate through the staff.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we can do better than this.

As members of NAHT you are, of course, doing your own thinking about accountability, and I want to work closely on this with you.

But I also wanted to come here today with something that I think itself is very important.

School leaders need better clarity on how the accountability system will operate, the consequences that can flow from it – and the roles of the actors within it.

So I am publishing today a statement that sets out key principles for how I see the system working in future – the next step will be consulting with you and colleagues on the details.

I urge everyone to read the statement in full but in essence it comes down to this:

We have many excellent schools in this country – schools with great leaders, great teachers.

And I have a clear message to these schools and their leaders – we, I trust you to get on with the job.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I trust that you know better than us – better than me, better than the Department for Education – how to improve your schools. You don’t need government getting in your way.

We will, of course, take action where a school is failing – on those rare occasions where, frankly, the leadership isn’t there to make the improvements needed then we must act decisively and make structural change where it’s necessary.

But these are the measures of last resort – and I believe every school must be absolutely clear on the rare circumstances when this would happen – and when it wouldn’t.

Ofsted is the body that can provide an independent, rounded judgement of a school’s performance – data alone can’t tell the whole story.

So I want to move to a system where, when it comes to educational underperformance, we only enforce academy conversion, leadership change or changing the trust a school is part of when there has been an Ofsted Inadequate judgement.

So that means we will not be forcibly turning schools into academies unless there is that judgement.

Now, I firmly believe that becoming an academy can bring enormous benefits to schools and their pupils.

Increasingly, becoming an academy also means schools coming together in a Multi Academy Trust, sharing expertise, working collaboratively, driving improvements.

Hundreds of schools every year voluntarily choose that route – to become an academy and join a Multi Academy Trust. And I want this to be a positive choice for more and more schools.

So I want to move away from forced academisation being seen as this punitive threat that can also hang over schools that are not failing.

But we must have a system that does more than just deal with failure. Which is why we will work to identify schools at risk… But we will also do so in the right way, making a clear offer of support for the current school leadership.

This support would come from Teaching Schools or other high quality school improvement providers – people with a proven track record.

I intend this to replace the current confusing system of having both a ‘below-the-floor’ standard and ‘coasting’ standards for performance.

There will be a single, transparent data trigger at which schools will be offered support in this way. We will consult on how this single measure should work.

And as I said earlier, school leaders above this threshold will know that they have full freedom to get on with their job – without interference.

What does this mean for how we work with schools?

I know that right now schools can sometimes feel accountable to multiple masters.

Regional School Commissioner representatives going into schools and performing visits that can feel a lot like inspections – making additional requests for data.

And that is something that comes about for well-intentioned reasons. But it can be confusing for schools. And I’m afraid it plays its part in helping to create a culture that drives some unnecessary workload for you and your teachers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this will end.

Ofsted inspectors are the only people who should be inspecting schools – the clue is in the name.

Commissioners commission.

Ofsted inspectors inspect.

Which means no more RSC initiated visits that can feel like inspections with those extra demands for data, adding to bureaucracy – more time for schools to get on with the job that they’re doing well.

I’ve been talking here about the standard of education provided in schools.

I will also be looking at how we can support schools that are in financial trouble or take action where there has been a serious breakdown of governance. I will be setting up far more robust oversight and challenge when it comes to the financial performance of academy trusts.

And there must also be improvements in the governance of MATs as they grow in size and number, and how we, on behalf of the public, hold them to account – and again, we’ll seek your views on this.

The need to bear down on workload is not a new thing.

In 2014, the Department for Education launched the Workload Challenge. Thousands took part and, overwhelmingly, people talked about the sheer volume of lesson planning, marking and data management which was too often being driven by fear of inspection rather than for the benefit of the child.

Since then we have worked closely with Ofsted and others to bust myths about inspections.

I recently made a video with a clear message with myself alongside Amanda Spielman and others – committing to schools that you won’t be judged for cutting back on excessive bureaucracy.

And let me say again – neither Ofsted or DfE require you to do things like annotated seating plans, triple marking, deep marking, dialogic marking, colour coded marking, excessive monitoring of a child’s progress…

The video has now been watched more than 75,000 times, and I hope you will all, not only watch it but share it. And if anyone does tell you that Ofsted require this or that, please show them that video too.

There’s more to come from us on this. One area which many of you have raised with me is how the pressure to collect assessment data and evidence of progress has grown dramatically over the years.

In response, I have established a workload advisory group to look into this issue and publish recommendations.

And I am pleased to announce that this group will be chaired by Professor Becky Allen and the membership will include teachers and school leaders, as well as Ofsted and the unions – and I very much welcome NAHT’s commitment to take part.

I also want to urge heads and leaders to play their part.

As I visit more and more schools, I discover that there isn’t a uniform story on workload – teachers’ experiences are very different; and schools’ policies and practices are very different too.

I urge you to ask questions like: Do we need this much data collection? What does this extra time spent marking add?

And yes, Government has responsibility too.

In our drive to raise standards these last seven years, we have made great strides together.

However, the pace of change has been fast and that is why I’ve said that there will be no more new statutory tests or assessments for your schools, beyond those already announced, for the rest of this parliament as I’ve already announced.

And I will continue to work with NAHT and others to make sure that schools successfully embed and have the time to adapt to the changes that have already been announced and are coming through.

Of course, all of us here have a shared goal of making sure teaching remains an attractive, fulfilling profession.

Yes, teacher numbers are at an all time high and more people are returning to teaching this year – but, still, we know that staff turnover is a real challenge for schools.

Actually not just for schools. With record employment there has been increased demand for talented graduates altogether.

We’ve brought in schemes like the student loan reimbursement pilot for new graduates.

But we need to go further and that’s why over the coming months we will be developing an overall recruitment and retention strategy.

We will take an unflinching look at the things that discourage people from coming into teaching or make them consider leaving.

We will also look at how we support teachers to get better at what they do and hone their expertise as well as career progression, whether they want to get into leadership as you have, or stay and develop in the classroom.

I particularly want to support teachers early in their careers, when I know some new teachers feel a bit like having been chucked into the deep end before they’ve really learnt to swim.

And so I’m pleased we are setting out our initial response to our QTS consultation today.

Following strong support, I’m happy to announce that we will be introducing an enhanced offer of support for new teachers – including extending the induction period to two years.

And we will work with the profession to develop a new early career framework that will set out all the training and mentoring a teacher is entitled to in those first years.

I am committed to working with the profession to understand how to deliver these proposals and the resources needed to make them work.

It’s not just the early years though – I want teachers to be able to develop and progress through clearer career pathways, including for those, as I said, who want to stay in the classroom as experts.

You’ve said you want professional qualifications including in a specialist subject – so we will work with the sector to support these new qualifications.

I’m also announcing today something that has been called for by the profession for some time – a new £5 million sabbatical pilot.

This will allow more established teachers to do something else for a period, whether that’s working in an industry relevant to their field or doing academic research – or indeed coming to DfE to help shape policy.

Now, finally, I want to turn to an issue which I know is top of your minds.

I certainly don’t pretend I can just stand up here at this podium and say a few words that will solve all of the challenges that you face in schools today.

It is true that schools get more funding than they used to but it is also true that society asks much more of schools than we did a generation ago.

It is true that if you compare our schools to other countries… according to the latest OECD data, per pupil, our schools get more government funding than countries such as Germany.

But there have also been real cost pressures on schools – pensions, National Insurance.

So, yes, it is challenging for schools making the numbers add up and I do pledge to work with you to bear down on some of the cost pressures as best as we can.

Working closely with you to make sure schools do get the best deals possible and can target precious resources at the frontline.

I want a close, collaborative relationship with you, with this profession, whether on reforming accountability, or reducing the data burden, strengthening professional development or reducing cost pressures.

I’m clear that our retention and recruitment strategy would be nothing without your voices, your expertise… heads, teachers, support staff and unions.

We have a powerful opportunity to raise the status of this profession, for teaching to remain one of society’s most fulfilling roles…meaning that every child has the chance to fulfil their potential.

And I pledge to work with you all to make this a reality.

Damian Hinds – 2018 Speech at Association of School and College Leaders’ Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, at the Association of School and College Leaders’ Conference in Birmingham on 10 March 2018.

I’m delighted to have this opportunity to speak directly to school and college leaders here at ASCL – two months into the job.

Secretary of State for Education is a hugely exciting role to be taking on. But I also feel the weight of responsibility, the enormous responsibility of working with this whole sector – the lecturers, the social workers, and, of course, with teachers and with school leaders like yourselves.

What you and your teams do is one of the highest callings, the noblest of roles, with an impact on our society, far, far into the future.

In my first couple of months, I have had the opportunity to visit some of our nurseries, schools and colleges in different parts of the country.

And, everywhere I’ve visited, I have been so struck by the hard work, the care, the imagination shown by teachers and leaders – their dedication to doing the best for their pupils.

So, I’m going to begin today with a thank you.

We have, together, been striving harder than ever to make sure every child in this country gets the very best education – so that when they finish their formal education they have the knowledge, the skills and the qualifications that set them up for life, whatever path they take.

A core part of our approach has been to hand power back to headteachers, because we know you are the ones best placed to make the right decisions for your schools.

And thanks to your efforts, and to the dedication of teachers across the country, our schools are improving.

Since 2010, there are now 1.9 million more children attending good or outstanding schools. More children are studying the key subjects that can keep their options most open. And the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers has shrunk by 10% since 2011.

Our national curriculum and the new rigorous GCSEs have put England’s system on a par with high performing countries.

And we will look to keep raising our game, investing in the vital subjects of the future like maths, coding and modern languages; making sure that the next generation is best prepared to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

I know that education is, above all, a people business. Syllabus, technology, structures – these things all matter. But ultimately it is about people: the teacher, the head teacher, the lecturer, the support staff.

There can be no great schools without great teachers. To motivate children, to make knowledge meaningful, to inspire curiosity. The quality of teaching matters more than anything else; and it matters even more for disadvantaged pupils.

Right now, we have so many brilliant teachers in our schools – the best generation of teachers yet. And my top priority is to make sure this does remain an attractive and fulfilling profession.

But, with rising pupil numbers, and a competitive employment market, I do recognise that employment and retention are difficult for schools – and it is not getting easier.

And, clearly, one of the biggest threats to retention, and also to recruitment, is – as Geoff (Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary) says – on workload.

Too many of our teachers, and our school leaders, are working simply too long hours – and too often on tasks that the evidence shows are not helping children to learn.

We need to get back to the essence of successful teaching; strip away the workload that doesn’t add value and give teachers the time and the space to focus on what actually matters. Trust teachers to teach. That’s in the interests of teachers but it is also in the interests of children.

As Geoff has set out you, as leaders of your schools, you have the power to drive real change. You are the ones who can help to meet this challenge directly and it is, ultimately, your actions that will make the most difference.

But I fully understand that you don’t operate in a vacuum, you react to, you respond to, you operate in the context and climate around you. And two of the most powerful forces in shaping that environment are the Government and Ofsted.

When I talk to teachers one thing I sometimes hear is this question: are we actually all on the same side?

And that’s why I was so keen that today you would see up here Amanda (Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector for Schools), Geoff and me together, standing together. Because we are all on the same side, and we all need to take collective ownership of the workload burden on schools.

Now I do realise, of course, that I am not the first person to talk about this – I’m not the first person probably to stand here and talk about this.

A lot of work has already taken place, and including in your schools.

But, clearly, we need to go further.

The issue of teacher workload is not new. It is one of the great unsolved issue in schools for well over a decade.

Eight years ago, just before I became an MP for the first time and before the change in government in 2010, I spent a week in a secondary school in my constituency. Now you could make the very legitimate criticism that it wasn’t a typical school and it’s absolutely true that my constituency is a relatively affluent area.

But this was a comprehensive intake, local authority maintained secondary school.

I learnt a lot there. I learnt a lot in that week.

Now I know in the intervening years a lot has changed. But I am also struck by what hasn’t changed in those intervening years; what I hear in schools today, compared to what I heard then, before the change in government in 2010.

And one of the things that hasn’t changed is how often the subject of workload can come up in conversation.

Teachers then were also having to spend too much time on non-teaching tasks out of proportion to how much those things would help children improve.

So as we all know, it isn’t a problem with a quick fix.

It is not as simple as going around searching for bits of bureaucracy that day by day you can cross off.

It is a deep-seated, endemic issue and multiple forces play a part in it – and I want to go through some of those now.

First, I do want to acknowledge the government’s part in this – because the pace of change has been fast these past 8 years, as indeed, to be fair, it was pretty quick in many of the preceding years as well.

These changes have been important and necessary and we are now seeing their positive impact. As I’ve said, schools and teachers have risen remarkably to the challenge and raised standards. But I recognise that you now need a period of greater stability.

That is why – beyond those changes already announced and which are working their way through the system – apart from those, for the rest of this parliament there will be:

– No new additional statutory tests or assessment for primary schools;

– No further changes to the national curriculum; and

– No more reform of GCSEs and A levels.

I will also look at the accountability system and how it can drive unnecessary workload.

I know that the current accountability regime can feel very high stakes for school leaders – and this does then filter down to all staff.

Now, I don’t think anybody can argue that we should dispense with accountability – it is crucial. And we must continue to hold schools to high standards – because children only get one chance at their education and they deserve the best.

But I’m also clear accountability must also lead to the right support, at the right time.

I want the default assumption to be firmly and increasingly about effective support for headteachers, so that they can receive the tailored help they need to help turn their schools around and move them further forward.

I also know that schools can at times feel accountable to multiple masters, and even subject to multiple ‘inspections’. That is why I will be making a statement – following consultation with ASCL and others – to clarify the roles of the different actors in the system.

We do need to ensure that headteachers have clarity about how the system works. We need a transparent, supportive system, where schools know the rules, but they also know the roles, of every player within it.

That is why I want us to work together – government and the Regional Schools Commissioners, Ofsted, local authorities, teachers and unions – to make this a reality.

But what about the immediate challenges in schools?

I think we need to confront the fact that there are practices that have developed and spread based on beliefs about what Ofsted or what the government want to see, or required to see happening in our schools. And that, at their worst, these simply don’t help to improve outcomes for children, but do make life more difficult for teachers.

And so you hear things like:

– we need to colour code our marking like this in this way;

– we need to fill in all these repeated forms or make these data entries about who is making progress and who is not; and

– we need to give the senior leadership team extensive lesson plans every week.

Why? Because Ofsted and others demand this of us.

Yet, Amanda – who you’ll hear from in a moment – and Ofsted are clear that they don’t need all of this. And we’ll hear a little more on that later on.

School leaders are increasingly rejecting these practices and developing more effective strategies.

Such as 15 schools in Wigan which replaced various forms of deep marking with verbal feedback instead, leading to a reduction in workload and improvements in pupil outcomes.

Or Whitley Bay High School which, working with two schools in the North East, have created coherent long-term curriculum plans, making it easier for teachers to share high-quality lesson resources, reducing the time teachers spend making their plans.

Or Linton Village College which replaced onerous and ineffective whole school data drops, empowering subject leads instead to only collect data when it fits with their subject-specific curricula and teaching.

I want all school leaders to be able to trust your teachers and make decisions you think, that you know, are in the best interests of children.

My department has worked with Ofsted on their positive myth-busting work on inspections. And I want to build on this today with the launch of a video, making clear the things that we – and they – do not expect, because there is no evidence that they work.

We want to demonstrate a clear, united approach on tackling workload. And our key message is that you have our backing to stop doing those things that add to workload but don’t actually help children to do better.

No one should be asking you for those things, and no one else should be telling you it is what Ofsted or government expect.

And to anyone who says otherwise – please play them that video.

I am also working with teachers, school leaders, Ofsted and unions to create an online workload reduction toolkit.

This will help schools identify what is eating up teachers’ time away from the classroom and offer practical solutions.

In particular, we need to tackle the propensity of schools to collect more and more data, even when there’s no clear benefit to pupils.

So I am going to bring together a high level group of sector experts and teachers to look at the kind of data and evidence schools are collecting and look at what, and who, is driving that. And they will work with me on a set of actions, which we will publish by the end of the summer term.

As part of this, I also want to look at the role of technology, which Geoff also talked about. In so many other walks of life, modern technology has been a time-saver. But I know for many teachers it can sometimes feel like technology has had the opposite effect – actually adding to the work that needs to be done.

Of course, technology can never replace the role of the teacher in a classroom. And we know that there have been times in the past when technology has been used to promote some of the fads and gimmicks that have spread around the school system – despite a lack of evidence on how this will help children learn.

My goal is to support schools to use technologies in ways that actually reduce the workload burden, while supporting teachers to deliver great lessons.

I understand that if we want to really tackle workload, then we also need to look at the broader questions around teacher recruitment and, particularly, retention.

This needs to begin by setting out an overarching strategy on both.

So, my Department will develop this plan, working with the profession – including ASCL and the teaching unions – identifying clearly what steps we will take. This strategy will cover areas like workload, professional development, career progression, flexible working and entry routes into teaching.

In particular, I recognise that teachers need additional support and the highest quality development in the early years of their career, when the learning curve is inevitably at its steepest. This is what can attract more of the best graduates into teaching, set them up for success and keep them in the profession.

That is why our plans to strengthen Qualified Teacher Status are so important. Our consultation has just finished – with over 2,000 responses – and I’m very grateful to all those of you who took the time to respond.

We will be taking these plans forward, working hand in hand with the profession, and we will set out the next stage of this process by the summer.

I also think it is particularly important that we do more to make sure teachers have ready access to high quality teaching materials that they can choose to draw on, with the confidence that they are used and approved by their peers.

At the heart of great professions is the concept of building on the best practice and body of knowledge that has gone before. And I want to make it easier for teachers to do that throughout their careers.

That is why, as a starting point, I intend to use our new Curriculum Fund to make it easier for schools and teachers to share and access high quality teaching resources.

And I will work with the profession to help teachers to access a broad set of quality curriculum and teaching materials that teachers and leaders can adapt for their schools and classes, without having to write them from scratch.

Finally, we will continue to work on making flexible working more possible, and easier for schools and teachers. The modern world demands this, and if teaching is to remain attractive to the next generation, it is a challenge we will all have to meet.

As part of this, my department will be launching a new recruitment website that will help schools to recruit teachers and reduce costs – and we will adapt this specifically to help teachers to pursue flexible working, including job shares.

Conference, I certainly do not think we’re going to fix all of this overnight – but I do promise to stick with it. I commit to you that I will work with all of you, I will work with ASCL, I will work with the other unions, I will work with Ofsted, I will work with the Regional Schools Commissioners, with teachers up and down country – with every part of our education system.

I think between all of us we have the opportunity to do something materially different here: to change the culture in schools and to reduce workload for the long-term.

As I said at the start, ultimately education is all about people. And my top priority must be to support you as a profession, helping to build on your successes, and making sure that all children get the world-class education they deserve.

And I very much look forward to working with you.