Damian Hinds – 2019 Speech at NSPCC Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, at the NSPCC Conference on 26 June 2019.

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Have you ever been in a restaurant where you’ve seen somebody meeting up with old friends and taking a photo of the food in front of them? And it almost seems like the photo of the food is more important than the food itself. Or have you heard a conversation where somebody says, that was a really good walk. It’s just a shame I wasn’t wearing my Fitbit.

Or have you ever seen that thing, or even possibly done that thing yourself, standing on the pavement, looking at your weather app, and it says the weather’s fine. And you feel a raindrop on your head, and just for one split second you think, I wonder which one’s right?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, if we struggle sometimes with the blurring of reality that we get with technology, imagine how much harder it is for our children. And for kids growing up now, we have come a long way since Photoshop. Now it seems, sometimes that every photo might have some sort of filtering applied to it. The certainties of the world can’t be banked on anymore, and in the most acute cases have caused children falling victim to people who are pretending to be something and someone that they are not.

Now, at this point, before going too much further, it’s obligatory for the person standing on the stage to explain that he or she is not, in fact, a Luddite. And I do appreciate the huge potential that there is for technology both in education and further beyond. And actually, to be fair to me – and I’m keen on being fair to me – I think my CV actually bears out that I am not a Luddite and I have a lot of belief in the power of technology.

When I was a teenager – although this bit isn’t on my CV – I was what these days would be called a coder. We used to call it a programmer. I wrote games, and I even managed to sell a few – just a few – by mail order. When I did my first job, I went to work for the computer giant IBM, and I learned about some of the transformational effects that technology could have on businesses. And in the early 2000s, I found myself working at a hotel company running the e-commerce operation for the European division. And we set ourselves, at that time, a crazy target that one day, 10% of hotel bookings might be made on the internet. So, I do understand the power of technology, but these days I’m also concerned about some of its effects.

Those of you with children – and I guess, everybody here one way or another – works with children. You will know that you don’t really have to persuade kids to engage with technology. The challenge, usually, is to get them to disengage sometimes.

Actually, I want this generation growing up in our country to be the most techno-savvy generation we’ve ever known, but I also want it to be one of the most techno-savvy or the most techno-savvy groups of young people in the world, so we can make the most of the rapid technological revolution that we are seeing. So we’re putting quite a lot of resource, money – £84 million over time – and a network of hubs around the country to promote the learning of computer science. I want more kids growing up being masters of the machines.

But it’s not when young people are producers in technology that I worry about. It’s when they are… I need my clicker. I knew there was something I’d forgotten. It’s when they are consumers. And you will know that the amount of time that young people now spend on the internet is really quite significant. And how that manifests itself, you talk to teachers…

And when you talk to teachers, you hear this regularly, that teachers worry about the effect of the amount of time that kids spend online, on concentration, on sleep. Sometimes I hear teachers in reception year talking about the effect on school readiness. And later on in school careers it’s well documented, some of the issues that we have around mental health.

So although technology and the use of it can be incredibly beneficial to young people, there are definitely downsides. And I suggest it’s not just a question of what individual piece of content might we find harmful. Actually, I find, talking to parents and talking to teachers, they want a bit less time spent online.

And of course, the way that the various apps and so on are designed, they are designed with what’s called stickiness in mind. Because ultimately most apps of this sort rely on advertising revenue, of course you want to have people being as long as possible on your site. Shouldn’t be surprised about that. It’s a commercial motivation. But it does mean that kids are then spending longer on than we might like.

Look, kids have always enjoyed watching television or listening to music sometimes, for hours on end. But at least with children’s television, eventually you would get interrupted by either the end of children’s television programming for that day or some content which was factual or educational in some way. Now with the way that autoplay works, and the way that social media works, actually you’re not interrupted by anything at all. You can keep on going and keep on going round and round.

And, of course, it’s parents who ultimately are in control, but for parents, sometimes it’s just not as easy as it should be to exercise that control. I don’t know if I’m alone here. I will ‘fess up that when I myself have tried to use parental controls, it turns out to be not quite as straightforward as I would like to think I was capable of.

And even when you do master it, you discover that when you set a control on the hardware, it doesn’t necessarily translate over to the software. And if you set it on one app, it doesn’t necessarily translate over to another app. And I would like to see all of these things being made easier. I wonder why it’s not possible, actually, to have them as the default setting in many cases, that then you would adjust away from a restrictive parental setting, if you were so minded.

And we have good reason to be concerned and to want to do more. Because, although we think about the internet, rightly, as a global thing, actually it turns out we have a particular issue in this country. There was a new survey came out last week from the OECD. They call it TALIS survey, which looks across different countries and asks questions of teachers across a whole range of subjects.

And this was one of them. I don’t want to read too much into this, because it’s based on survey data. But nevertheless, the results for our country are so, kind of, out of line with the average for the countries surveyed, that they warrant further investigation and further thought. The frequency, the prevalence that head teachers responding to the survey in England said that they came across either instances of hurtful information being posted online or a student having unwanted electronic content – these were in secondary schools, I should add – was significantly greater than it was in many of those other countries.

So it’s natural that we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect children and to make sure that childhoods can be as happy as possible. And when things go wrong on the internet, when they go wrong with social media, it’s really important that help is available, help and redress. And so organisations like the Diana Award and what they do on bullying is incredibly important. Internet Watch Foundation in terms of taking away some of the very worst material off the internet is very important, too.

But I think it’s also really important… And this is where the school system comes in, not on its own but along with other organisations, in building up resilience of children. And most of the building up of resilience is really about quite old-fashioned stuff. It’s nothing to do with technology at all. It’s about, you know, your self-belief, your ability to stick with a task, your focus on goals, your belief that you can do stuff. And when things do go wrong, being able to bounce back.

And, you know, I think in our school system, the development of character and resilience in this way is absolutely instinctive to teachers. It runs through their veins. But there’s many other ways, actually, that we can help build up character and resilience as well, everything from taking part in sport to joining a membership organisation to doing a Saturday job, all kinds of purposeful activity that helps to build up resilience.

And it’s closely related to, but not quite the same thing as, in some ways, a slightly more new-fashioned thing, which is about mental health and wellbeing. I say new-fashioned because we just have more focus on it now than we used to. We have more awareness of mental health issues. We are trying harder throughout society to help to support people’s mental health and wellbeing, and that goes for children as well.

So, in schools we are bringing in health education as a mandatory subject in both primary and secondary, and that’s going to include mental health education, from quite a young age. Starting to talk about, you know, how you cope with the ups and downs of life, self-regulation, being able to stop frustration turning to anger turning to rage. All the things that, hopefully, can help to keep relatively low-level mental health issues as low-level mental health issues.

We’re also running one of the biggest, or possibly the biggest ever trial of its kind in schools of various techniques and programmes to help to support children’s wellbeing, such as mindfulness. Obviously, you can tell, this is a Venn diagram. There’s a circle missing. There’s a third circle which goes here as well. So far, everything we’ve talked about, building up your character, your drive, self-belief and so on, all of it could help you to be good at all sorts of things, including some bad things.

But, of course, we want children to grow up with virtues and values. And this is particularly significant and important in the context of the internet and social media, because, you know, children are the victims of bullying on social media. They’re the victims of people saying nasty things. But of course, more often than not, it’s also children doing it. And so, if we are to make the internet and technology a friendlier kind of place, actually that’s a shared responsibility for everybody, in terms of how they, themselves, behave on it.

So, character and resilience, mental health and wellbeing, virtues and values. These are the core attributes, I suppose, that we tend to want all of our children growing up with. And they’re important, as well, when it comes to the use of technology and the internet. But I wanted us to go further, because I think the other thing which can really help to build up children’s resilience to problems online is to understand it as deeply as possible.

So, today, we are launching our new guidance on teaching online safety in school, and it is a fusion of parts of the relationships education curriculum, the citizenship curriculum, and the computing curriculum. And it’s based on the premise that if you really understand the technology, you’re less likely to get used by the technology. So, you know, you understand the anatomy of a URL. You understand an IEP address.

Actually, then, even when the technology changes, your knowledge is somewhat future proofed for how it will develop. But it’s not just about understanding technology, it’s about understanding technique. So, you know, we tend to quite often focus on the outputs, if you like, of bad stuff online, people trying to defraud you, people pretending to be someone they’re not, in the worse cases grooming of a minor. But actually, you’re more likely to not be a victim of these kind of things, and indeed what may come after them, because we don’t know what the successor to phishing will be, but there will be something else.

You’re more likely to have resilience, to have resistance to those things, if you understand how they come about. So understanding how network effects work on the internet, how somebody could manage to come across as being something or someone other than they are, how companies, kind of, work out how to target a particular advert for a particular product at you through tracking your behaviour online.

And at the very most elemental level, discussing and understanding what people’s motivations might be. Why people behave differently when they’re behind a computer screen than when you meet them in real life. Why companies want to get your information from you, get your data to be able to make a commercial advantage point. Why people might have an interest in spreading fake news. So in these ways, I think we can help to make people more resilient to things going wrong.

But, of course, it shouldn’t only be about building up young people’s resilience, and sometimes I hear from people who think this is the only thing you need to do. Make people aware of the dangers, help them to deal with them, get a sense of perspective, and that’s what you need to do. Well, that’s not how we deal with anything else in life.

We don’t say, well, of course people are going to try and sell you cigarettes. We just advise you to say no. You know, we don’t think that the most important, or the way to stop unwanted contact from adults is just to teach children to be wary of strangers. We do those things as well, to help to build up their resilience and their resistance, but we have to tackle harms at source.

And I suggest there are three big types of harm that we need to think about. Actually, there’s a fourth as well, which is really acute harms at the most extreme end, when we talk about child abuse, when we talk about terrorism. But beyond that, there are these three areas. And we hear quite a lot around worries around the promotion of, for example, suicide or eating disorder or self-harm. And that is, indeed a terrible thing, but there’s another level as well, which I call prevalence and normalisation.

So even if you’re not actively promoting some of these harms, just the very fact of more and more children coming into contact with information about it can have a damaging effect. I don’t know about you, but I managed to get through more or less my entire childhood without knowing much about self-harm, and I didn’t have that sheltered a childhood.

My worry is that with more and more children coming across more and more content, in every group there will be a certain percentage whose curiosity is pricked, and of that group there will be a certain percentage who want to take it further. And so, prevalence and normalisation we need to worry about more than we have in the past. And finally, there’s personal behaviour, and that’s what I was talking about earlier. The fact that, for children and young people, when we talk about bullying and so on, it’s also about the way that they behave.

So there is some great stuff going on. The online harms white paper in this country is truly, you know, world-leading, actually, and we hear that from other governments around the world. And I’m sure others will want to emulate parts of it, learn from parts of it, learn from what happens. And of course, we’ve got the regulator to come. I very much welcome the ICO’s consultation on Safer by Design, and also some of the wider debate that that has sparked.

Let me dwell for a minute, if I may, on age. And obviously we have different ages of which we consider children to become adults, but I think there is a risk in the phrase digital age of consent. It has a very specific meaning, to do with the GDPR regulations and the use of data, but we must be very careful not to think that there is something inherently different about the internet which means children should be protected in a different way or a lesser way than we would want to protect them in any other context in the world.

But I think we can and will go further. Ultimately, of course, the internet is a global thing. We have global institutions, these days, to talk about trade, talk about climate change, to talk about scientific cooperation. I think that we’re going to have to move towards, and we should move towards, eventually, having a global approach, global institutions looking at these issues around technology and young people.

And, of course, then there’s the tech companies themselves. There is legislation coming on the duty of care, but no one has to wait for legislation to do something. I want tech companies to be using their very clear and very extensive talents right now to be working out what more they can do to help to protect our children. I want them to be thinking about whether they can cooperate more with other companies to make parental control, make parental choice easier.

Maybe one of them will be really bold and stick out in front, and notwithstanding the competitive nature of these markets, maybe they’ll be bold and say, actually, we’re going to try and reduce the amount of time that children spend on our site by changing the design, by changing the way that it works.

I started talking about grownups, and it’s probably a good place to finish, because, of course, we set the context. And you’ll be relieved to hear I’m not here to start lecturing parents or anybody else, and if I did I’d be on extremely thin ice. My own New Year’s resolution was to put my phone away while I was sitting at the dinner table with my children. Which, by the way, itself doesn’t happen quite as often as I would like. But that when we had family time, there would be no phones involved. You ask my kids how I’m doing, they’ll say, Daddy’s doing pretty well. Give him seven out of ten.

That’s not really good enough, I realise. And actually, for all of us, it is difficult. You know, I remember when you would go to a concert and everybody would have a lighter in the air, you know? Now it’s a phone in the air. And I want to say to myself as well as to everybody else, let’s enjoy the moment. You know, the ability to record, to store masses of electronic data, does lead us down strange avenues sometimes.

You remember that film The Lives of Others, which showed the ridiculousness of the Stasi storing all these recordings and all these people, far more than anyone could ever possibly listen to. These days it’s more about the lives of ourselves. And we have 28,000 photos of our children at home. I’m not sure when we’re ever going to get round to looking at them all.

But at least, for us, for grownups, for everybody in this room, that’s a choice. What we’re talking about here, and why I’m so pleased that NSPCC is putting on this conference today, is about how the world is being shaped, the world into which our children are growing up. I think it’s difficult to overstate either the potential for good that there is from technology, or the risks and harms. I commend you for what you’re doing. I hope that what we’re doing in education, and particularly the new guidance that we’re issuing today, is going to have a positive effect, and thank you for the invitation.

Damian Hinds – 2019 Speech at Wellington College

Below is the text which was planned to be made by Damian Hinds at Wellington College on 20 July 2019. The speech was made by Lord Agnew as Hinds was unable to make the event.

It’s great to be here at Wellington College and also to be the warm-up act for Amanda, our HMCT. I want to thank you Amanda for the important work that you and Ofsted do. For your personal commitment to educational rigour.

I know you’ve already heard from some excellent speakers today and that this festival is always a fantastic opportunity to debate the big ideas when it comes to education.

It’s a privilege to be surrounded by those who share a passion for this subject. Events like this are essential in bring together the big thinkers in our education system.

At times like this, with so much uncertainty in the air it’s important that we all take the time to reflect on where we are going.

By its nature, education is about the long term. At its heart, the work that all of you do is about shaping the minds of the next generation. A great education is fundamental to success – the individual success of all those who study, whatever their age and success for our country.

A great education system can, and should, be geared towards tackling the big, long term challenges our country faces.

One of these great, generational challenges is productivity. It’s not an abstract concept. We should care about productivity because it decides not just the size of our economy but our quality of life. Higher productivity means more fulfilling, higher paying jobs. It means new investment, leading to greater prosperity.

Productivity matters because it’s about people being able to fulfil their potential. Economically, we can’t afford to waste the talents of young people held back by the circumstances of their birth. This is why social mobility has always been critical to my vision for education and inseparable from the goal of raising productivity.

But when it comes to productivity, we lag behind. Badly. Our key competitors such as Germany, France and the US – all produce over 25% more per hour than the UK. This didn’t happen overnight. The productivity gap with our European competitors opened up in late 1960s, and earlier still the US.

Just as the gap has been around for some time, the gap won’t be closed unless we take the long term view. To fix Britain’s productivity we need a major upgrade in the nation’s skills. That should start with an honest assessment of where we are.

Across the UK as a whole we have a large number of people who either never progressed beyond GCSEs or gained low level vocational qualifications. 65% of our working population have completed upper secondary education (that’s Level 3). When you consider that the equivalent in Germany is 87%, its clear we have our work cut out.

The answer lies in our schools and our colleges. As part of the review of the national curriculum which began in 2011, we benchmarked our curriculum against those of high performing jurisdictions and found that they set higher expectations without compromising curriculum breadth.

We reformed the national curriculum in 2014, and then GCSEs qualifications, so that we set world-class standards across all subjects. We’ve removed hundreds of pointless and unproductive qualifications.

When you look at how productivity differs between places in the UK, the picture is stark.

According to the CBI the most productive area of the country is almost three times more productive than the least. Educational attainment is the single most important driver of those differences.

Of course the gap between Britain and Germany, or between one region of the UK and another, isn’t a reflection of the innate talents of our young people.

Instead it’s a challenge to us all to ensure that our system is delivering the opportunities for education and training across the whole country.

We have made progress. The industrial strategy sets out a plan to invest in the three engines of productivity – individuals, innovation and infrastructure. Through our Opportunity Areas programme we’re investing £72m in some of the places with the biggest challenges, to make sure our efforts are focused on eliminating the productivity gap between different parts of the country.

In order to transform Britain’s productivity and set our young people up for the future, the goal of building a world class education system drives everything we aim to do at the DfE.

This is why we’ve focused on school autonomy and trusted leaders to run their schools, because that’s how you raise standards

It’s why we’ve focused on teacher retention. This includes our Recruitment and Retention Strategy. This provides a commitment to develop world class training and development together with strong career pathways.

It’s why we are committed to reducing the workload of teachers and supporting school leaders to create the right culture in their schools.

We know that more schools are taking action to tackle workload. We have seen over 150,000 collective downloads of our workload reduction toolkit in less than 18 months.

We are working with Ofsted to simplify the accountability system. The new Ofsted framework will have an active focus on reducing teacher workload.

An education system can only ever be as good as its teachers and its leaders. We are very lucky to have some of the very best. They, indeed you, are the fulcrum of the system

We have been rigorous about the curriculum so that young people are prepared for adult life; reforming GCSEs and introducing the EBacc. We will continue to pursue the manifesto target of 75% EBacc entry at GCSEs.

These are subjects which form part of the compulsory curriculum in many of the highest performing countries internationally, at least up to 15 or 16.

We have focused relentlessly on social mobility and disadvantage. Narrowing the gap between children from well off families and their less well-off peers so that every young person has the opportunity to make the most of their talents.

We have made progress. I could stand in front of you and reel off more statistics on how far we’ve come. But I want, instead, to talk about where I think we need to go from here. Not in the short term but the long term, so we can confidently continue to build the world class education system our country needs.

To do that we must be ambitious for the future of our schools and colleges, not just for the next year but for the next generation.

That requires a vision for how we continue to raise school standards. How we ensure that we have the very best teachers for our children and how we will fix technical education. We owe it to the next generation to confront the big choices, not to duck them.

Yes it’s true that we live in a time of uncertainty, at home and abroad, but that uncertainty makes it more urgent, not less.

I want to reassert our long-term vision for an education system that achieves these goals, and the challenges we must overcome in order to get there.

Part of the reason we’ve made such progress since 2010 is that we know what works: school autonomy, great teachers, and a rigorous curriculum.

That is why we want to see us finishing the reforms we began in 2010. That means continuing to be ambitious about academisation by growing the best trusts, where teachers and leaders are already making an extraordinary difference to the lives of children. We must do that in the parts of the country where the need for those teachers and leaders is greatest.

Our ambition remains for all schools to be academies, working in partnerships in great school trusts. This year we hit the milestone of 50% of pupils taught in academies.

Looking to the long term; 10 years from now, we want to see the vast majority of schools becoming academies and joining strong academy chains.

To achieve this we will build on the experience of previous capacity funds for academy trusts. We will shortly be announcing a fund that will boost the growth of our strongest academy trusts allowing them to support a greater number of schools across the country.

The fund will increase the capacity of academy trusts to grow partnerships that support the development of teachers and leaders and the education of children. We have learnt from earlier growth funds what works best and we intend to build on this.

The fund will support smaller school trusts that wish to merge into existing or new academy groups, and providing high-potential academy trusts with funding to meet the challenges they face as they grow.

Local authorities have an important role to play and we are committed to working with them to consider how this will evolve as we move towards the vast majority of schools becoming academies.

This will include exploring how they might support the growth of academy trusts in their areas. As we think about the future, we must take a long-term view of how to attract more high calibre teachers into the profession.

We won’t get the teachers we need unless we focus on creating the right conditions for them to excel. There is clearly a strong case to explore reform of teacher pay to ensure that the money schools spend on pay is targeted where it will have the biggest impact on recruitment and retention.

We must be bold about the offer that we make to new teachers. We recently announced the Early Career Framework – in itself the most significant reform to teaching since it became a graduate profession.

We will build on this by introducing a new, rigorous core content framework for Initial Teacher Training to align with the Early Career Framework.

Taken together, this will create an entitlement for new teachers to 3 years of structured training and development, backed by the best available research.

In doing so we aim to ensure that people enter teaching in a manner that reflects its position as one of the most important professions in our society.

Alongside this we will deliver the other commitments in the Recruitment and Retention strategy, including the expansion of flexible working and more diverse career pathways.

We know that our economy has evolved in its ability to accommodate flexible working and we need to help the schools system do more to support teachers who want this.

We must be relentless in ensuring that our reforms are always improving the odds for young people. Where you end up in life shouldn’t be determined by where you start, and yet many disadvantaged young people lose out by not having a parent or guardian who is ‘in the know’ about what to study.

Central to a world class system in the long term is ensuring that children are setting themselves up for success with their subject choices, which is why EBacc is so important.

Participation in creative subjects such as music and the arts is vital, particularly up to Key Stage 3. The DfE is committed to supporting both participation and progression – most notably in music.

Alongside this it is vital that we ensure that pupils are encouraged to study the core academic subjects at GCSE – English, maths, science (including computing), foreign languages, history and geography.

Schools previously entered many more pupils in these subjects. In 2000, three quarters [76%] of pupils entered a language GCSE. By 2011, however, the proportion of pupils entering science, a foreign language and geography GCSEs had fallen to less than a quarter.

These subjects are essential if young people are to succeed in the knowledge economy, particularly if they are considering a good university. They are also at the heart of a well-rounded education.

Since our reforms began in 2010 we have seen entry levels for science increase dramatically from 63% in 2010 to 95% in 2018.

The proportion of those taking history or geography has increased from 48% to 78%. The proportion of pupils taking the EBacc combination of subjects as a whole increased to 38% in 2018. But we need to go much further.

In particular, we want to focus on languages. While we have seen a rise in the number of pupils taking at least one language from 40% in 2010 to 46%, there remains much more to do.

It is vital that children should be given the opportunity to learn languages to prepare them for a world that is more connected than ever. It’s why almost three-quarters of parents and carers [73%] said they would advise their child to take a foreign language GCSE.

As part of a long term approach to education we will keep up the focus on language curriculum programmes and continue to recruit and train more MFL teachers.

We would like to work with schools to do more to strengthen opportunities for more children to learn a foreign language.

Our Free School programme has led the way in deploying a rigorous knowledge rich curriculum with over 400 now open and many more in the pipeline.

We all know that digital skills will be become increasingly critical, whatever career path a young person chooses. That is why we reformed the computer science GCSE, with input from leading industry experts, to equip pupils with the knowledge and skills they will need for the high-tech jobs of the future.

Computer science will become an essential skill in the digital era and already leads to a wide range of careers. We want to see more pupils, including girls, follow this path.

To support this, we launched the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) in November 2018, backed by £84 million of government funding to ensure pupils are better prepared for further study and employment in digital roles.

To deliver on these promises, schools and colleges need to have the resources to support the development of healthy, happy children.

From my conversations with heads and colleges principals – I have heard first-hand about the pressures you face.

You will have heard the Secretary of State promise that he would back teachers to have the resources they need and would make the strongest possible case for investment in our schools and colleges. The Secretary of State has asked me to make that commitment to you again today.

It must be right that in a world class education system, there can be no people or places left behind. We must look again at how we can be bolder in supporting the schools facing some of the greatest challenges, in our plans to help schools tackle behaviour and attendance and for the future of our successful Opportunity Areas programme.

As the Secretary of State set out in his speech on Monday, in all our reforms we must bring to bear a new focus on Children in Need and recognise the changing face of disadvantage.

Alongside this, we must find ways to work with heads and principals to support schools in making every pound count in the classroom.

There are many lessons to take from the 2016 referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. But a clear lesson is that we must turn our attention to making all parts of the country engines of productivity and places where there are plenty of high quality, well paid jobs.

The most productive parts of the country benefit from a virtuous circle, where strong schools with great teachers lead to strong skills with investment following behind as the skilled workforce is in place.

That is why – to create that virtuous circle everywhere – we want to do more to incentivise the best teachers and leaders to work in parts of the country and the schools where they are most needed. We want the best Trusts to expand into areas that some would describe as being “left behind”.

But we have no chance of providing the next generation with the skills to succeed if we do not get serious about investing in technical education.

Which is why we will continue to pursue the reforms of technical education, including the delivery of T-levels and the NRS, which have already been announced.

Colleges are the critical infrastructure of the Industrial Strategy. Last month the Prime Minister was right to say that we have fallen behind our competitor nations when it comes to technical education as successive government have failed to give FE colleges the support they need.

The Post 18 review argued compellingly for much greater investment in further education – both talented teachers and the essential infrastructure, such as buildings and equipment, that underpins the sector. Working in partnership

We are clear on where we want the schools system to go, but we plan to listen to your advice on how to get there.

We want to work with teachers, governors and school and college leaders to turn this vision into reality, just as we worked with you to produce our teacher R&R strategy

Now is the time to think big, not small. Long-term not short term. To ensure that we can fix the generational challenge of productivity and that our world class education system continues to improve and be available to all children.

Damian Hinds – 2019 Speech on Disadvantage

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, at the Reform Conference held on 17 June 2019.

Thank you very much, Charlotte [Pickles]. Thank you very much to Reform for hosting this morning. Your organisation has a long track record taking on the big issues in public policy.

This isn’t in the strictest sense a scripted speech. I think it’s probably fair to say that makes my brilliant civil servants a little nervous this morning, but I’ll still ask them and you to bear with me for the next… Well, we never know exactly how long, but don’t worry, it won’t be too long.

I wanted to take the opportunity to draw together some of what we know now that we didn’t know a relatively short time ago, about the nature of disadvantage in education and attainment, and then of course in what happens in later life. Why does this matter? Well, I don’t think you would ask that question, because I think to everybody in this room it is self-evident that in public policy, in government, in what all the organisations represented here do, we should be constantly redoubling efforts to equalise the odds.

Because no child’s prospects in life should be limited by the circumstances of their birth or who they were born to. They should have no limits other than the talents and the application that they themselves will put in.

There’s also of course a hard-nosed economic argument. Because if we’re going to have an economy that’s operating at its maximum potential, which, of course, in turn is what allows us to afford the excellent public services that we all rely on, we do need every child to be able to fulfil absolutely their full potential.

So, this sort of thing will be familiar, I think, to you all. We know that obviously people have innate ability, but how that is able to translate into attainment in school and then what happens later, can get significantly affected both by the background, the circumstances they’re born into and the experiences that they go through.

It goes without saying, by the way, that obviously you also need to put the work in at school. But I’m just taking that for granted. This is about the factors that we as individuals perhaps can’t control. We know that the gaps in attainment, in development, actually start to appear from very early on in life. So, even in the early years the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged is something like four months of development. But it keeps on growing as you go through school.

By the end of Key Stage 4, in other words GCSE time, that gap is the equivalent of 19 months. We also know that the effects of what happens back here [during school years] actually still has an effect much later on. In research that we released last year we showed that the effect of being a child who is eligible for free school meals still shows up in the data, in the workforce. So, still at age 27, you’re materially less likely to be in good, sustained employment if you’ve been on free school meals than somebody who was not.

We also know that it can become something of a cycle. Because there’s a multigenerational impact that then means if you haven’t managed to, break out of that cycle then another generation also experiences some disadvantage coming through.

Charlotte mentioned this, and this is worth reflecting on. The gap between the rich and the poor has narrowed in this country. And this isn’t something that’s happened all over the world. It’s not something natural or inevitable.

When Michael Gove first instituted the reforms that started in 2010, he was very clear all the way through that we as a government should always be measured on two sets of criteria. First, that we’re raising the attainment overall. But secondly, that with everything we are also narrowing the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged.

And this is something very much to be celebrated. But of course, you’ll have spotted that if you reduce the gap by 9% or 13%, the gap is still very large. Some of the things that I think would have helped this progress are things like the Pupil Premium, the Education Endowment Foundation. It’s great to see Kevan [Collins] here today who has produced some of the guidance that’s been given to schools on how to use that.

Also the two-year-old offer, ensuring that more disadvantaged children have the benefit of high-quality early years education. Sponsored academies, and free schools, and the general school improvement drive that we’ve had consistently through that time. And of course most of all, teachers. It is the people who run, who operate education. Who inspire the next generation, who have made it happen.

The problem we have right now is that although we’ve seen this great progress, although the gap has been narrowing, the pace has started to slow. So, if we’re going to sustain the progress on narrowing the gap, we need to figure out what else we need to do. We need to think about what we need to do differently.

And that’s really what today is about. It’s about recognising the face of disadvantage; understanding more about aspects of disadvantage. It’s about recognising how disadvantage may have changed in certain respects, or for certain groups. And it’s also about understanding more about the scale of particular types of factors, and how they may have changed.

And then ultimately, of course, whatever you know about disadvantage, the question is, what are you going to do about it? Both within the school system and also because schools cannot do everything. We cannot expect them to do everything. It’s a wider societal question of how the rest of society operates.

So, today, I’m going to particularly cover five areas associated with disadvantage: Ethnicity, language, place, or in other words part of the country, the home environment and adversity in childhood. Some of those things you can think of as being more about the background of the child, more about where they’ve come from, and some of them are more about the experiences, the things that happen to that child during the course of their childhood. But actually, each of them has some elements typically of both.

I’m not going to cover absolutely everything about disadvantage, otherwise we really would be here a very long time this morning. But in particular, I want to mention two very important areas.

Mental health – we are more attentive today than ever before and we know that mental health problems can affect all sorts of young people. Of course, those in the most difficult circumstances are most likely to face this adversity. We’ve been doing quite a lot on mental health, both in terms of the Mental Health Green Paper, making sure that support networks will be available around schools, and Designated Mental Health Leads in schools. But also crucially, from an early age, through the new health education curriculum, we’ll be talking about mental health. Including talking at quite a young age about some of the strategies that you can put in place on self-regulation, on trying to help cope with the difficulties that come along in life.

And you’ll also have heard the Prime Minister speaking this morning about the announcement today on mental health including enhancing the content in initial teacher training about spotting the early signs of mental health difficulties.

And then of course, there’s the whole area of SEND. Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, which is in itself a huge and varied area in terms of the effect on children. It’s not something I’m going to cover today, but it is something that we will be coming back to in a similar vein.

But it’s worth saying that all of these things can interact with each other. Clearly, everybody has an ethnicity and they live somewhere, and sometimes the danger is that we spot something, which we think is to do with one of those factors, when actually it’s to do with another. And they can easily be conflated.

It is also true that things can operate one on top of another. So, you can have a cumulative effect of different disadvantages. They don’t quite work in a purely mathematical additive way, but they do concentrate the effects of each other. So, for example, later on when we talk about Children in Need, that is to say children who have need of the services of a social worker, many also have Special Educational Needs and are eligible for free school meals. That number of children adds up to 120,000.

So, the Prime Minister instituted the Race Disparity Audit, to ask some of those difficult questions and face up to what can be difficult and deeply uncomfortable answers, when we look at the different experiences of people of different ethnicities in our society. And part of that is about education.

Now, what do we see when we look at the experiences of people from different ethnic groups? Some ethnic groups experience a below average experience and attainment pretty much across the board. So, if we talk about black Caribbean children, for example, they are more likely than white British children to be eligible for free school meals, and they are likely to statistically attain a lower level when it comes to GCSEs.

But for other groups, it can be more complex. This chart here shows the experience of black African children on average. Again, it’s important to stress, on average. Because of course, in every ethnic group you have a wide distribution. But among black African children, you’ll see that at primary and secondary school, compared to [the national average which includes] white British, they actually perform slightly better. Although, that reverses when you take other factors into account. And there’s actually a significantly higher rate of black African children going into university than [the national average which includes] the white British population. But when they get there, they are less likely to complete with a top degree, a first or a 2:1. Later on in life, they’re more likely to be in work but they’re less likely to experience good earnings growth.

So, as I say, a complicated picture. .When we talk about social mobility, or disadvantage, how often do we just focus on GCSE attainment and assume that everything else will follow? Or historically, and I’ve been guilty of this myself, said that, the ability to go to university can be the most life-changing opportunity. That can be true. But not if you don’t finish university. So, we need to think about every stage along the way.

There is another group of children who we often mention, but sometimes just in passing. Which is white British children. Among the disadvantaged population the lowest performing group is white British children. This isn’t among the population as a whole, but just among those who are classed as disadvantaged. Within that, you separate out the ethnicities and white British children are [among] the least likely to reach the expected level at reading and writing and mathematics, and make progress at secondary school.

If we talk about ethnicity, we tend to talk about all other ethnicities and then sometimes say, well, of course we mustn’t forget this group of white British children. But then you convert the charts by volume and you realise that almost two thirds of the cohort of disadvantaged children are white British. So, if we are to really, really narrow the gap when it comes to the disadvantaged kids versus the rest, it is important to think about the places where there is a heavy concentration of white British children, as well as about the places where there are heavy concentrations of other ethnicities and those that are more diverse.

So, let me move onto language, and you might think that having English as an additional language is a disadvantage at school. In fact, ladies and gentlemen, children with English as an additional language perform slightly better when it comes to GCSEs. Not a huge amount and not in every subject, but about half a grade better on average across eight subjects. It’s a slightly counterintuitive result. Let me explain this graph. Those who have very recently arrived do worse. But the longer you’re in the system, the better you do. And in fact most of the gap is gone within three years. If you’ve been here longer, you actually perform on par with or even slightly outperform the average.

And it’s sometimes also thought that it’s not good for the rest of the class if you have a number of kids with English as an additional language. But actually, that’s not true either. The evidence shows there is no, disadvantage for other children in the class. In fact, there can be a slight advantage. But again, it’s important to stress that pupils with English as an Additional Language is a large group, which covers a number of different types of circumstance, and clearly, as this chart shows, there is a huge difference between being a newly arrived refugee and being a child growing up in a multilingual household.

Now, I said at the start there is often an overlap between a number of these different factors, and I’m now going to talk about an important overlap between language and place. In this city, London, there is an extraordinary number of children who have English as an additional language.

In fact, of last year’s Year 6, so in other words the kids who just started secondary school, in London 49% of them were classed as having English as an Additional Language. And that may be one of the reasons, but only one – and I’m going to say a number of times in the next few minutes that there are many, many reasons why performance in London is different – but that may be one of the reasons why London children do so much better than children elsewhere in the country.

This table charts the different stages of school: early years, infants, juniors, secondary and higher education, for those who go. It shows separately, for all children and for those eligible for free school meals, what the performance is for children in London compared to elsewhere.

You’ll see that among pupils as a whole, actually in the early years and the infants there’s not much difference really at all. They’re performing on par. Then they start performing a bit better, and a bit better, and by the time you talk about entry to a selective university as opposed to a recruiting university, you’re 1.5 times, 50% more likely to go if you’re a child in London.

But it’s among the disadvantaged, among those eligible for free school meals, were the really striking difference is. The gap’s actually already there in nursery school and in infant school. And then it carries on growing as well, but the multiplicative effect is that by the time you talk about whether or not you’re going to a selective university, a free school meals eligible child in London is twice as likely as a free school meals eligible child elsewhere.

What is different about London? I’ve said I was going to say this a number of times. Almost everything, actually. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to ascribe exact causes to the effects that we see of these strong results. Families are different. Places are different. The work environment is different. What children walk past to go to school is different. Pretty much everything is different.

Some things aren’t different, it’s worth saying, and sometimes they are the things that people most naturally look to as being likely drivers of difference in performance. But let me give you an example of a couple of these things, which are different and might surprise people that have an effect.

First of all, tutoring. There’s a very high proportion of children in London who have tutors, and by the way, before anyone says it, this didn’t start in 2010. This is a long-standing phenomenon. Both that there are high levels of tutor usage in London and a gap between that level in London and the rest of the country.

Shorter distances. It may seem like a trite and obvious point. But in a city, which is much more concentrated than most of our country, it means that from a school choice perspective, for example, you’ve got that many more schools within a reasonable travel distance. Even if you compare, say, Lambeth with Manchester, there are twice as many schools within a one-mile radius in Lambeth, as there are in Manchester, and of course that ends up being important also later on in life.

There are also many more universities. The average travel to university is 59 miles. There are many, many more universities within 59 miles in this city than there are in most parts of the country. And in terms of work opportunities, the opportunities are that much greater. So, there are many, many possible explanations of why London outperforms the rest of the country. The one that is most often cited I’m going to suggest is not likely to be the biggest factor. The thing which is most often cited is a thing called the London Challenge, and for those of you in this room who worked on the London Challenge, let me be clear, I’m not dismissing the London Challenge. It was a very good thing to do and actually elements of it we have, shamelessly, borrowed for use elsewhere, for example in what we’re now doing in the north east.

But the year that London started outperforming the rest of the country on GCSEs was the same year that the London Challenge started. So, in other words those kids had just been alive for 16 years, not under the London Challenge.

And, in fact we see, as I’ve shown on the previous slide, that the outperformance of London was also in primary school and indeed in early years, whereas as the London Challenge initially was only focussed on secondary.

There is some good news for the rest of the country of course as well on this, which is that the city effect doesn’t seem to occur only in London. So, some of the things I was talking about, like distance for example, of course are also relevant elsewhere.

And, we find that if we look at cities, and this is new research that we’re releasing today, disadvantaged kids in our bigger cities do better than in school settings elsewhere.

If we take Birmingham, for example: disadvantaged children in Birmingham will have a stronger performance than, say, neighbouring boroughs, Solihull, Dudley and so on, as well as performing above the national average.

The performance of disadvantaged children in our biggest cities overall exceeds that in other types of areas. The north-south divide, ladies and gentlemen, I think there is still some truth to there being some differences on average in the north and south, but actually it’s far too simplistic a concept, if we’re to understand the complex makeup of the United Kingdom today.

There’s another type of location, which we’ve had more focus on of late, and we now understand in greater detail: coastal areas, where people have long had a sort of suspicion that there is something endemic, which means that performance is lower on average. Again, there’s a big spread that will be lower, among disadvantaged children in coastal areas and elsewhere.

And the new research that we’ve got demonstrates that that is indeed true. It’s no coincidence that our Opportunity Areas Programme includes many coastal towns, like Blackpool and Hastings and Scarborough and the north coast.

One other area I want to touch on is the North East. This is relevant to the discussion about opportunity areas, because we’ve had some criticism that we didn’t have any opportunity areas initially in the North East.

The reason for that is that nowhere in the North East fits the normal criteria that there isn’t a sufficient proportion of very strongly performing schools, because actually there are loads of really, really strongly performing schools in the North East.

What’s different about the North East is that at primary and indeed early years, there’s a very, very heavy preponderance of very strongly performing schools, but at secondary, whilst there are a number of brilliant schools, as there are everywhere, it’s a much, much lower preponderance.

What that means is that the outcomes for kids, by the time they get to 16, are lower than they are elsewhere. And then the progression on to college or on to university is lower as well. And so we introduced Opportunity North East specifically to look at that disparity between primary and secondary, to work on the transition from primary, secondary and to work with a number of secondary schools on school improvement.

There are great schools everywhere, as I’ve just said, this is a map of outstanding schools. In every single part of the country there are outstanding schools.

And it is worth just repeating, as everybody in this room knows well, that whatever we say about people’s background, whatever is true about people’s experiences, school can make a massive, massive difference, specifically the teachers within that school can make a massive, massive difference, but you do have to be there.

We completed an extended project looking at exclusions, and you’ll be familiar with the very important findings from Edward Timpson’s report, and I want to thank him again for the extensive work he did.

But actually I think one of the most important findings, from my perspective, to come out of that was about all the children who were not in school, who have not been excluded. And actually it turns out that there are a lot more children not in school, than those who have been permanently excluded.

Now, that could be for many different reasons, but quite a few of them are unauthorised persistent absence, or what I call hyper-persistent absence. Hyper-persistent absence is when you’re missing half of school.

Now the full amount includes others as well, including people who are away for medical reasons, for good reasons, but a significant proportion of that number are out of school unauthorised.

And I said, although we’ve got a lot of focus on the permanently excluded, we need to worry as much actually about these children, those who are on unauthorised absence, and particularly the vulnerabilities that they may then experience.

Okay, so we talked about place, there is another place that probably doesn’t get quite enough attention, and that is the home. I mentioned right at the start that there could be a lot of overlap between different factors, and actually most factors, if we talk about ethnicity, most of the factors,in different performance, different attainment of groups of kids with different ethnicities, actually could be explained by other things, including the home.

And we know that the home learning environment, what parents do, is actually far more important than who the parents are. And we know that in the very earliest years, gaps appear in development, at even at age two and three, and about a fifth of the difference in development of cognitive ability, about a fifth, is to do with, parental engagement. This really matters, because, as I said at the start, you know, we know that gaps appear early, but we also know that they grow. And if we’re serious about social mobility, if we’re serious about narrowing that gap, then actually we have to pay attention to what happens in the very earliest years and we have the knowledge that what happens in the very earliest years actually happens mostly at home.

I had a conversation with Alan Milburn a few years ago, and I can’t remember if I said it to him and he agreed or he said it to me and I agreed. I’m happy to credit Alan with the phrase, that home is the last taboo in public policy.

Because none of want to go there, nobody wants to be the politician that starts talking about ‘you should do this and do that’ or make it sound like they think they know better than a family. I don’t want to be that person either.

But if we are serious about social mobility, we have to go there; we have to care about the home learning environment, because it is going to determine the futures of a lot of those children. And that is why we’re putting in place a new programme, which isn’t going to be patronising and lecturing, but a new programme to help support parents.

And we know that overwhelmingly parents do want support. Nobody’s born with a manual of how to bring up children. Parents want the hints and tips. And so we’re introducing a new programme, which will come out next month to support parents.

We also know the effect the home environment has. We tend to talk about it for the very earliest years but actually it carries all the way through school and indeed beyond. If you take a child who has a combination of a lot of strife at home and parents being disengaged from their education, so not going to parents evening, not reading reports, these children’s attainment is the equivalent of nine grades lower across eight GCSE subjects. And just to put that in perspective, that – the strife at home and disengaged parenting – is a bigger difference , than either being born into a low income household or being at a school rated less than good or outstanding.

So, the most, concentrated form of strife that children may experience when young is this one, Children in Need.It’s not a phrase which is particularly well understood out there. Most people in this room will understand it, but let me just explain what in public policy terms Children in Need means.

These are children who are not children in care, they’re living at home, but they do need the services of a social worker and they either have a Child Protection Plan or a Children in Need plan. And there are five times as many of them as there are Children in Care. Now, this is a group that is not that well understood. I don’t get asked about them when I do media interviews, I don’t answer Parliamentary questions about Children in Need. It is I’m afraid a cohort of children who in general public discourse are just not as well understood as, Children in Care or indeed children overall.

We understand Children in Care, or Looked after Children, have very poor outcomes, very poor attainment at school, compared to other children. Actually the truth is that this group, Children in Need, have outcomes which are almost as bad, I mean, very, very nearly as bad, but there are five times as many of them.

And, if you talk about children who’ve ever been in those circumstances, so they have needed a social worker at some point, that’s 1.6 million children, or to put it in perspective, one in 10.

Now, in our Children in Need Review, we are looking at, or we have been looking at what more can be done to help and support those children, and I’ll come onto that in a minute. As well as knowing that the attainment and the outcomes for Children in Need are very poor, we also know that those effects sustain.

So, even if you are not classed as a Child in Need at the time when you’re doing your qualifications, you can still see that effect coming through. Overall if you’ve needed contact with a social worker at any time, since Year 5 in school, on average you score 20 grades lower across eight GCSEs.

It’s quite an astonishing, gap. And as I say we’ve known, and it’s widely understood, that for Children in Care, so the Looked after Children, there’s a wide gap, but this doesn’t get talked about nearly as much.

So, I said in our Children in Need Review, we’re considering and putting forward, what more we need to do. The first thing we need to do is improve the visibility of this group of children. And that’s true, both for individual schools and for the system as a whole.

In fact, schools in general will know about this group of children, those who are in need of a social worker, because of safeguarding arrangements. But we need to make sure that is true in every case, so that information is passed on when a child moves a school, for example. We also need to make sure that at a system wide level we are tracking the outcomes of these children overall. So, that as we carry on developing policy, we always have this group of children high in our minds. We also need them to be in school.

Now, I mentioned the absence persistence a moment ago, it probably isn’t a great surprise to you to hear that Children in Need are considerably more likely to be persistently absent from school than other children.

And being in school is a key protective factor. It is not just about what you’re learning, but the very fact of being there in school and being around other trusted adults, is very, very important for these children. And helping to reduce the likelihood that they fall prey to criminal or sexual exploitation.

So, we’re going to do a couple of these, including changing the admissions code, so that when a Child in Need has to move schools, so for example in the case of domestic abuse, we’re going to change the admissions code to help accelerate that process. And if one of these children is excluded from school, and we would hope that that is reduced, but if they do have to be excluded from school, we will make sure that their social worker is informed. We also need to continue to improve our knowledge of what works to help and support these children.

We mustn’t lower our expectations to only expect so much, but actually, for these children, it’s more important than anything that they, can do their very, very best, make the very, very most of their talents when they are at school.

And so, we need to learn what works with Looked after Children, Children in Care, for example the virtual school heads’ approach, and see what learning we can derive from that, for this group as well.

To sum up, for the different groups that we have talked about ( ethnicity, English as an additional language, where you’re growing up, the home environment and for some children the adverse experiences that happen in childhood), our understanding of what constitutes, what drives disadvantage is greater than it used to be. And we need to make sure we use that greater knowledge to best effect.

And there of course those many, many different levers, many different things that we can do to help minimise disadvantage, to help to continue to sustain the narrowing of that gap. One of them that I wanted to talk about very briefly just now is the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Pupil Premium.

And I think this has been a very, very important structural change that we made in education, not only the Pupil Premium but crucially the guidance that goes with it.

And today I thank EEF for publishing the new guidance on effective use of the Pupil Premium, which recommends a tiered approach. It starts with hiring brilliant teachers, because we know that, great teachers make the biggest difference to all children, but an even bigger difference to the most disadvantaged children.

And the second tier is about targeted interventions with particular children, groups of children, and third making sure they have access to the goods and extra curriculum opportunities as other children.

But there are many other things, as I say, that we have done, starting with the institution of the EEF, the increased entitlement to early years’ education and particularly for disadvantaged two-year olds.

The Opportunity Areas, the virtual school heads for children in care, the changing accountability of the performance measures from the cliff edge, five or more GCSEs to the progress measure, which means that the progress and development of every child is counted.

And overall, what we have been doing, and many people actually who I see in this room have been in the forefront of, is school improvement, and making sure that we are impatient for there to be a brilliant education, not just for some kids in our country, but for all kids in our country, and the School Improvement Programme, along with free schools and academies, particularly sponsored academies, has been at the forefront of that.

There are a number of things which we’re at a relatively early stage development, like Opportunity North East, that I mentioned, the careers strategy to make sure that all children have a broad view and a stretching view of what they can achieve in life.

Access and participation – whenever I hear that phrase, access and participation, I always want to insert another word, which is successful, there’s no point in widening access, if people aren’t finishing university, so access and successful participation of higher education. And the home learning environment, where actually it all starts, from that grounding that you get in the very earliest years at home and then that actually gets sustained through life as well. And there will be more to come in the future.

This set of levers may not end up being a fully comprehensive set, there may need to be other things that we do as well. Because until we have closed that gap, until we have ensured that every child can make the absolute fullest use of their talents, there will always be more to do. Thank you.

Damian Hinds – 2019 Speech on School Accountability

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, at the NAHT Conference in Telford on 3 May 2019.

Thanks for welcoming me back. It’s terrific to be here, to feel so much ability crammed under one roof. Expertise. Experience. Passion.

I see these qualities again and again when I visit schools up and down the country. Getting out and about and into classrooms is one of the best bits of my job – because I get to speak to so many teachers, leaders and children. I get a chance to see the fantastic teaching and learning that is your every day.

This morning I made my 92nd school visit, and I have had the chance to meet hundreds of headteachers.

And I find one common trait, time after time, in every school I visit and every leader I speak to. Ambition.

Not a selfish, inward ambition – believe me, I’ve met a lot of politicians, so I know how to spot that! Rather, an outward ambition. An altruistic ambition. An ambition that everyone, no matter who they are, can reach their potential.

Today, I want to tell you that your ambition is my ambition.

World-class schools. Giving every child the best possible start in life. Led by brilliant, motivated teachers and leaders, who are empowered to do what they do best – to teach.

To get there, we will have to continue to tackle the pressures that I know schools are facing. I have been open in acknowledging these. And I’m also committed to working with you to relieve them.

Let me start with funding.

I have heard you loud and clear on this. I know finances are challenging for many schools, that you have had to make, and do have to make hard decisions about resources.

We are approaching a comprehensive Spending Review. There are always competing demands on public funds, but I will be setting out the case, the very strong case, for education. The case for investment in education is a special one, because so much else depends on what you do – so much for our economy and our society.

There is one area of funding that I want to directly address now – the support that we give for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

You and your staff provide high quality support to children with special educational needs and disabilities, every single day.

This isn’t some distraction from teaching. This is teaching. Helping vulnerable children learn is at the centre of the moral purpose that brought you into the profession.

I’ve visited some fantastic mainstream schools and colleges and of course special schools too, and I’ve seen this work for myself.

Each time I have been struck by the dedication of the school and the staff working with these children, tailoring their approach to meet the needs of pupils with a diverse range of additional challenges. Whether this is flexible timetabling, one-to-one support or coaching – the commitment is unwavering and the ambition for these children uncompromised.

So thank you, and in particular thank you to those SENCOs who provide so much valued expertise to other staff and families and to the headteachers who have created environments that enable these pupils to flourish.

I know there are challenges – as your report last year made clear. And I know the challenges are increasing.

The number of school-aged children with a statement or an Education, Health and Care plan rose by more than 13,000 between 2017 and 2018 and we’ve seen a steady increase in those children being educated outside of mainstream schools.

And we know that more specialist provision is more expensive and that we have a capacity issue in the number of places at special school available.

Supporting these children in mainstream schools where possible and where it is right for that child, is the right thing to do, as is increasing the amount of personalised support available in all settings to help them achieve great outcomes. But it is creating budgetary pressures.

It is because of the pressures on Local Authorities’ High Needs budgets that last December I announced an extra £250 million of high needs funding. I also announced that we’ll invest just over £30 million to train more than 200 new educational psychologists a year, from next year, to help you and your teams access the right specialists. And we have allocated additional High Needs capital as well.

That means that this year we have invested over £6 billion in education for children with complex SEND.

But I’m under no illusion – this may not be enough. This is a growing, complex issue, and I want to work with you to solve it. Part of that is of course about funding. And it’s also about changing needs.

When I’ve spoken to teachers recently, they’ve told me that it’s not just the volume of support that has gone up. It’s also that the needs that vulnerable young people have – and the support that they require – is changing. This too is increasing pressures.

So I need your front-line expertise – to properly understand what is driving these pressures, where the funding system is working, and where it is not.

That’s why today I’m announcing a call for evidence, to gather your views and make sure everyone can input. I know schools and teachers can’t do this alone, which is why I’m encouraging others who have a crucial role supporting these vulnerable children, including local authorities and health services, to join the conversation too.

This evidence is important. We need a system that works for these young people. And we should be unequivocal – that our ambition for them is exactly the same as our ambition for every other child. That they achieve their full potential.

Of course, funding challenges aren’t restricted to high needs. The right level of support for all schools, and for every pupil, is also vitally important. And here too, as well as securing the right overall settlement, I want to make sure that money is flowing through the system in the right way – that individual schools’ needs are being properly understood, and that we avoid creating perverse incentives.

The national funding formula has taken a big step forward in addressing some anomalies in funding between different areas and we need to complete the job on this.

But I also want to consider whether we can look more closely at how funding can accurately reflect the way costs operate in reality for individual schools. Of course some costs go up and down in direct proportion to pupil numbers, while others do not.

If I’ve learned one thing it’s that when we talk to one another, when we collaborate, it’s then that we begin to see real progress in tackling the pressures schools face.

One of the best examples of this I can think of, and one this profession can be very proud of is the Recruitment and Retention Strategy.

This has been a huge endeavour and has involved teaching unions, leaders and teachers, all coming together to work out how we boost the profession and develop a more supportive culture in schools. I particularly want to thank NAHT for their constructive engagement on the strategy.

We all want the teaching profession to be one that attracts the best people and offers them a satisfying, sustainable career.

And yet too many teachers are leaving the profession. I know many of you will cover for gaps in your teams; that you have lost teachers, talented and valued members of the team.

A key feature of the strategy is the new Early Career Framework, perhaps the most significant reform of the profession since teaching became a graduate-only profession.

It will provide much more structured support for teachers at the start of their career, when they are most at risk of dropping out. By the time the new framework is fully in place we will fund additional support and training for new teachers up to at least £130 million every year.

But of course the strategy isn’t just about new teachers – it also commits to supporting teachers throughout their careers. I want all those who are called to this vocation to enjoy the same kind of clear career pathways as other leading professionals, like doctors or lawyers.

To do this we will offer more coherent pathways for all teachers, from reformed ITT content to the development of specialist NPQs that support those teachers who don’t necessarily want to go into leadership but who still want to develop, to specialise and to progress.

There are other barriers to recruitment and retention. Last year I told you I had an urgent task – to look at how we can work together to address these barriers – and top of the list is workload.

We know that teachers, and school leaders, work far longer hours than they should and this is one of the main reasons people give for leaving the profession or not moving into leadership roles.

But we also know there is no silver bullet and that workload and the pressure you can sometimes feel can come from different sources – it can come from specific requirements generated within schools and from government. But it can also come indirectly from the accountability system.

Primary school standardised testing in different forms is common around the world. Here in England, it can help inform parents, and it helps inform Ofsted.

And clearly the progress that pupils make at secondary school, and the qualifications they achieve there, are really important to their futures.

But I am clear that data alone do not and cannot give the full rounded picture of a school.

I know that today the fear of the consequences of a single set of bad results can manifest itself in unintended consequences, excessive pressures on headteachers and leaders. Last year I promised we would consult with you on this and how we could make the system better.

And today I am confirming that – after a very strong response to our recent consultation on identifying schools for support – that the ‘floor’ and ‘coasting’ standards will be dropped.

This is in line with one of the key recommendations from NAHT’s commission on accountability. It means you don’t have to worry that one set of results could set off a number of unwelcome consequences.

From September this year we will no longer publish these standards, nor use them for any purpose. Instead, we will use a single, transparent trigger for an offer of support – ‘Ofsted requires improvement’ – to make sure it is totally clear when leaders will be offered support.

And while leaders of “RI” schools will always retain responsibility for their own improvement, we will be proactive in offering support to leadership teams who do want it.

So, from next academic year, all “RI” schools not currently benefitting from this year’s package will be offered funded support from an expert leader to give them bespoke guidance.

A more intensive package of assistance will be available for schools with two consecutive “requires improvement” judgements, to help them improve in a sustainable way. But again, I want to stress – it’s an offer, not an enforced intervention.

I also want to consider what more we could do to address workload issues for school leaders in particular, and will continue to work with you in the coming months to understand the pressures you face on a daily basis, and come up with a plan to reduce these.

Tackling workload is one of the ways we can build a supportive culture in schools and I know from our Workload Reduction Toolkit that headteachers and principals are already doing some fantastic, proactive work in this area – schools like Kensington Primary School in Newham, who have focused on the work-life balance of their staff as part of their whole school ethos and culture. We have published a video about their approach as part of the workload toolkit.

The tools have been collectively downloaded more than 135,000 times since they first came out and I would urge any of you who have not yet had a look at it to do so.

Last summer when we asked school leaders whether they had begun to take action on evaluating and reducing unnecessary staff workload, 96% said that they had, which is tremendous progress.

I’ve already talked to you about some of the particular needs of children with SEND. Health and wellbeing is of course vital for all children. Schools have a particularly important role to play in this respect.

I want all children to leave school prepared for life in a modern, diverse Britain. Part of the way to make sure they are is to learn about respect for each other and that no one is more important than anyone else, right from the earliest age. You’re never too young to learn compassion and kindness.

We have just made the biggest change to health education in 20 years. From 2020 all primary schools will be required to teach children about relationships as well as health – secondary schools will have to teach sex education too – so that all children have the knowledge they need to be healthy and safe, and to manage their lives and relationships in a positive way. I want to thank the NAHT for all of their engagement on these reforms.

I know many of us feel strongly about some of these issues and people hold different views, as they are absolutely entitled to do, but that does not mean we can shy away from them. It is all the more important to keep talking to one another to find a way forward.

But, and I want to be perfectly clear about this, I back you to do your jobs, to make the right professional choices in the best interests of all your pupils and your teachers. And I expect you to be able to do this free from intimidation by others. I am pleased that my department is working with the NAHT to explore what some of the ongoing problems are and how we can solve them.

And I welcome NAHT’s continued help as we put in place the right, sustained support for schools to build high-quality teaching of relationships and health education. We have allocated £6 million to that end this year, and future years will be considered as part of the spending review.

Another area that continues to cause alarm is social media. I know this is something you will be debating over the weekend.

For this generation growing up, technology and new media, including social media, change just about everything.

The internet is a fantastic resource and an integral part of everyday life for many people. Living in a more connected world opens up fantastic opportunities, to share ideas and collaborate. It’s hard to imagine life without it.

However, we know that the internet can also be used to intimidate and bully. This is not acceptable and can have serious consequences for victims of online abuse.

The changes we’ve made to the RSE and health curriculum mean that as well as relationships education, young people will learn about safe and acceptable behaviour online and an awareness of how online actions can affect others, particularly how to protect themselves from possibly harmful content.

This backs up what is already taught in the computing curriculum at all key stages, and covers e-safety and the different and escalating risks that can arise.

We are also taking steps to put in place a new system of accountability and oversight for tech companies through the Online Harms White Paper.

But while attention is mainly focused on protecting young people from possible online danger, they are by no means the only victims. The internet is not selective and I know that teachers and leaders can be vulnerable too.

We will be updating our guidance for heads and school staff accordingly on how to protect themselves from cyberbullying and abuse and what to do if it does take place.

Teachers and leaders should not be subjected to online abuse simply for doing their jobs and I’m 100% behind making sure the entire school workforce can go about their business free from fear or intimidation.

The pressures that schools are facing – that you are facing – are real. Pressures that can erode and distract from the passionate pursuit of excellent teaching. And I am committed to making more progress to tackle these.

But the past 12 months have taught me an important lesson.

That we can summon concrete, positive change, if we work together. The Recruitment and Retention Strategy is showing this right now. We worked together to identify the problems – and to craft the solutions. And I want to recognise your important role in that and other work.

So now, I want to bring together that same sense of collaboration and constructive challenge to other areas, including those we’ve touched on today.

I am optimistic. I can’t help feeling more optimistic every time I visit another fantastic school.

And I can’t help being reminded of what I said at the beginning of this speech. That your ambition is my ambition. And that together we can realise that ambition, for every young person.

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.


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…


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.


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.


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.


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.