Sam Gyimah – 2018 Speech on UK-Ireland Education Partnership

Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, on 10 May 2018.

It’s an honour to be here today with such a distinguished group of researchers, teachers and innovators from our two countries. And a pleasure to speak alongside my esteemed counterpart John Halligan.

Today is a good opportunity to celebrate the special relationship between our two countries – and also to deepen it, building on our relationships in the fields of research, innovation, and higher education.

As the Prime Minister said in her Mansion House speech, the UK is committed to establishing a far-reaching science and innovation pact with the EU. It is our aim that Britain remains at the forefront of collective endeavours to better understand, and make better, the world in which we live. The exchange of ideas and of researchers is essential to this.

UK-Ireland collaboration on research

The UK and Ireland collaborate through a number of EU multilateral forums, not least Horizon 2020. We are working together on a dizzying range of cutting edge projects. We’re collaborating to find new ways to unlock the energy potential of our oceans through the Marinet project. We are deepening our understanding of serious illnesses, through the Joint Programming Initiative for Neurodegenerative Disease Research. We are working out how best to deploy Ebola vaccine through the EBODAC project. These are just a few of the inspiring examples of joint projects our 2 countries are involved in. Indeed, we are Ireland’s second most frequent collaborator in Horizon 2020 projects.

We are also proud of our bilateral work together, like the BBSRC’s lead agency agreement with Science Foundation Ireland, which to date has funded 14 applications, totalling nearly £8 million.

In the last five years, the UK’s Research Council funded 119 projects involving partners based in Ireland, representing a total value of £146 million.

When it comes to innovation, I believe the UK has much to gain from working with Ireland.

I’m excited by projects like the new partnership between the cities of Belfast and Dublin to develop new, clean solutions to deliver goods within cities. Cracking the problem of ‘last mile’ distribution could mean cheaper goods, more reliable deliveries, and cleaner air – 3 big prizes.

Ireland has over the last 30 years built a powerful and dynamic knowledge economy, attracting investment from abroad and encouraging entrepreneurship at home. As the UK pushes ahead with our Industrial Strategy, increasing our investment in R&D and creating the opportunity for high-growth businesses to thrive, we have much to learn from Ireland’s successes.

Higher education

Our long history of partnership carries over into the other half of my brief: higher education. Of 15,000 Irish students studying abroad, two-thirds of them are in the UK. And Ireland is the fifth most popular country for UK students studying abroad.

We are keen to maintain our partnership with Ireland as the UK leaves the EU. Indeed, we want it not just to continue, but to get stronger. We welcome Irish students to the UK. And we have no intention to cut or cap international student numbers.

Students from Ireland bring greater diversity to our campuses, an international dimension to the experience of everyone at our universities. They stimulate demand for courses, and add to the UK’s impressive research capacity.

In the short term they bring welcome income to UK universities, and to the economies of our towns and cities. In the longer term, they offer something even more valuable: the prospect of ongoing business, political, cultural and research links between our two countries. Long may this continue.

That is why we have made a commitment to maintaining rights of Irish nationals to access higher and further education courses on equal terms to UK nationals, on a reciprocal basis. This includes rights to qualify for student loans and support under applicable schemes and subject to relevant eligibility conditions.

We are working towards agreeing the high-level principles with Ireland, and considering the exact details of future eligibility criteria for student loans and support in England following the end of the Implementation Period in December 2020, including ways to ensure that Irish students continue to have access to student finance support.

The future

At today’s conference we’ll be discussing a wide range of areas for future collaboration. They range from life science to agri-food to space and satellite technologies, and from pure research to innovation projects taking place within businesses.

Wider EU relationship

I would also like to say a few words about the UK’s wider science and research plans as we prepare to leave the European Union. The UK is an active and valued participant in European research and innovation programmes.

The UK and EU Joint Report, published in December, sets out that UK entities’ right to participate in EU programmes, including Horizon 2020, will be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. In the areas of citizens’ rights and the financial settlement, we have translated all of the commitments we made in December, delivering on our promise to reflect the Joint Report in the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Joint Report envisages that existing projects will continue to receive uninterrupted funding for the lifetime of the project.

We want to assure the EU of our commitment to ongoing collaboration in Science and Innovation; we want to work together on a mutually beneficial outcome. This potentially includes continuing to take part in those programmes that are greatly to the UK’s and the EU’s joint advantage, such as those that promote science, education and culture.

To that end, we would like to ensure that the new FP9 remains open to our association. We recognise that such an association would necessarily involve an appropriate financial contribution in line with other associates, and would like to discuss the details. In turn, our priorities are that FP9 remains focused on excellence, EU-added value, and openness to the world, as we outlined in our position paper, and that the programme allows associated countries a suitable degree of influence, in recognition of the benefits they bring to it and in line with their financial contributions. To this end, we intend to engage fully and constructively in the design of FP9.

We hope that our future participation in FP9 will provide us with a further opportunity to collaborate with Ireland, alongside our bilateral partnerships.

Conclusion

Our relationship with Ireland in the fields of research, innovation and higher education is of the utmost importance to us. Together, we can do better research, promote our mutual prosperity, and build on the deep cultural links between our countries.

I am delighted to share a platform today with John Halligan, and with so many distinguished innovators from our 2 nations, as we seek to deepen our partnership.

Sam Gyimah – 2018 Speech on the Unified Patent Court Agreement

Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, on 26 April 2018.

I am delighted to be here on World Intellectual Property Day; my first as IP Minister.

And I’m delighted to see such a wide cross-section of our IP community here today, including two former IP Ministers and the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary IP Group Pete Wishart, each of whom supports and advocates for IP.

I want to thank John for the introduction, and for bringing us together today, and I would also like to congratulate him and his organisation on their 25th anniversary this year. Today is as much a celebration of their work as it is of IP.

And we can all agree – there is much to celebrate.

The UK is consistently ranked among the best IP regimes in the world. We have topped the Taylor Wessing Global IP Index three times, and we have maintained our second-placed ranking in the recent US Chambers of Commerce International IP Index too.

Thanks to the Intellectual Property Office and our IP legal community, we offer a world-class rights granting regime.

As well as encouraging new IP, we are global leaders when it comes to protecting it too.

The success of the Police IP Crime Unit and the strength of collaboration between local and national enforcement agencies means we are ever more effective at protecting rights holders and consumers.

Providing those protections gives businesses a sense of certainty. But we were asked to provide further certainty and clarity in our preparations to leave the European Union – something which we’ve done by securing a transition period.

Now we are well placed to make sure we turn the changes – which will be the central part of our exit – into opportunities.

One of those opportunities is to make sure we continue to strengthen and develop the international IP framework.

And today I am pleased to confirm that the UK has ratified the Unified Patent Court agreement and look forward to bringing the court into being.

But there is continuity too. We will maintain our high level of protection of intellectual property, and we will keep making the case for British innovations.

As we develop our trading relationships with other countries we will focus on getting the right outcome for UK inventors, creators and consumers, while promoting our outstanding talent to all corners of the world.

We must be transparent and inclusive as we develop our future trade policy, and we will be working closely with a wide range of stakeholders to develop our priorities around trade and IP.

I am delighted to have already met some of our important stakeholders, and we have a shared ambition to ensure that IP rights underpin future trade relationships.

IP is serious business. So, naturally, supporting, protecting and developing it is a fundamental part of the Industrial Strategy.

It can help us to build on our strengths, extend them into the future, and capitalise on the opportunities before us.

And it’s a key part of our aim to raise the level of research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027.

The recently launched Creative Industries sector deal is a perfect example of this ambition in action.

The commitment by government and industry to invest nearly £60 million in immersive technologies wouldn’t have happened without a strong IP regime to support innovation, giving us the confidence needed to make that investment.

But IP isn’t limited to the creative industries. I’m delighted to be standing here on the day we have launched a new deal with our booming artificial intelligence sector. And IP is central here, too.

Earlier this week I visited IntelligentX, a microbrewery in the heart of London. There, I learned how AI can take feedback, refine flavours, and craft beers to match your exact tastes.

Now if you ask me, that’s pretty exciting. But artificial intelligence has all kinds of real world benefits which are rather more serious too.

From streamlining complex services to increasing our productivity, AI is being applied across a whole range of sectors including manufacturing, automotive and financial services sectors.

Today’s Sector Deal will see government and industry investing almost £1 billion together, strengthening our reputation as a world-leader in innovative technologies.

This will help us to assert ourselves as one the most attractive places in the world to start and grow an AI business.

For those businesses – and many others – IP is often their most valuable asset. That is why improving access to finance is so important; it’s essential that a business can built on an idea. But it also needs the means to grow.

Our plans for providing intensive business readiness support will be complemented by the work of the British Business Bank and the IPO. They are currently exploring the potential for an IP asset-based lending product that would help better secure investment in their ideas.

We are a nation which backs ambition, and embraces innovation. So we have every reason to back IP.

Today is a celebration for IPAN; for us and our contribution to a world leading IP system.

In government, we have a vision of an innovative and resilient economy. And I know it is one that you share.

I know we all have our eyes the future, and I’m excited to see the role that British IP can play in shaping the world.

Thank you.

Sam Gyimah – 2018 Speech at Science and Technology Select Committee Summit

Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, on 22 February 2018.

I was in Bulgaria two weeks ago, speaking to EU science counterparts about Horizon 2020, our continued participation in that but also Framework Programme 9.

What struck me as a relatively new appointee is how respected and how valued our contribution is in our country in the European project but also science in general. And this is something I’m saying as a Member of Parliament, but also someone who has come in from the outside.

We need to do more to make the public appreciate not just how much we punch above our weight in terms of impact, but the breakthroughs that impact real lives with UK based science behind it.

This is why another visit I did was particularly interesting. I went to Imperial where I met Zeno the robot, a robot that could help with autism; there you could see scientific breakthrough, innovation and how it impacts real life.

Science is key to our future and our success.

The challenges we will face in the years to come – from clean growth and an aging population to the future of transport and the advancement of AI and robotics – will only be met by a concerted research and innovation effort as I’m sure you’re all aware.

These are global challenges and so we need to operate in a global marketplace; and that requires investment today, if we are going to get ahead of the curve and we should be ready to provide the goods and services that the whole world will want tomorrow.

That’s why we’ve put R&D at the heart of our Industrial Strategy committing to spend 2.4% of GDP on research by 2027 and initiating that with the biggest increase in public R&D funding for 40 years, which is something that we can be proud of as a country.

I think meetings like this just serve to underline how much of society science and technology touches.

I’ve mentioned Zeno the robot, and I appreciate the partnership between British and European researchers – Zeno came from just such a partnership.

That’s no novelty; The UK has long been an international scientific force.

Let’s take one specific metric. Many of you will already be aware of this but for me it’s a source of pride.

For argument’s sake, if you look at Nobel Prizes for Chemistry, British researchers and institutions have been involved in a three year winning streak. But we’ve been winning the prize on our own since 1904 and through collaboration since 1929.

By country of birth we have produced 95 Nobel Prize winners, a significant number of which were in the sciences and that’s before we consider those international researchers working within British institutions.

It’s true that we sit behind the United States on this but considering their population is nearly five times as big as ours it becomes clear just how good Blighty is at scientific research.

But we know that innovation doesn’t happen on its own; unless you’re Newton, ideas don’t just drop out of the sky.

The best ideas arise when the best minds are able to work together, collaborating within a stable, long-term framework. Over the years, an ever-growing number of Scientific Nobel Prizes have been awarded to international teams and to ideas which have been developed in multiple countries.

Sir William Ramsey’s 1904 Nobel Prize, for example, may have been awarded while he was working at UCL but his doctorate was earned in Germany.

We draw in proportionally more internationally mobile R&D than other large countries, with a total of 17% of UK R&D investment financed from abroad.

So it should be no surprise that, as time has gone by, the UK has developed some of its closest relationships with our European neighbours, supported by EU research funds.

Nor that we have attracted around 20% of grant funding awarded through the European Research Council, such is the quality of our work.

Since the start of the Horizon 2020 programme to September 2017, we have attracted more than two and a half billion euros in funding for our innovative universities and, under Horizon 2020, we are a top five collaboration partner for all EU27 countries.

This has benefitted our international partners as much as it has benefitted us: for example, nearly half of all collaborations at the University of Barcelona are with UK partners.

Moreover, there are benefits that reach beyond Europe and across the world.

Under Horizon 2020, UK participants have played a major part in developing a faster test for Ebola. Working with EU academia and industry, we have developed a portable device which can determine whether a person is infected within 75 minutes. That could become a game-changer around the world with quicker diagnosis helping us to contain the virus more effectively saving lives and resources on a global scale.

Other collaborative projects focus on innovative medicines decarbonising construction and gravitational waves.

These are big, ambitious projects, built on collaboration.

We want to see their like for years and years to come.

The key question that some of you have asked me in private and I’m sure is on all of your minds is how do we ensure stability and continuity in the short term.

I know how much of a concern this is for you.

Through my travels and my correspondence I have been hearing from you directly.

In particular, I know the concerns around uncertainty, notably around funding streams.

This government wants to give you as much reassurance and clarity as we possibly can in these negotiations.

As underlined in December by the joint report published by EU and UK negotiating teams, UK-based organisations and people will be able to bid for Horizon 2020 funding and lead and participate in consortia in 2019 and 2020.

I’ve been speaking to Commissioner Moedas on some of the detail around this and how and when the detail can be worked out, in terms of being on the Committee and influencing the remainder of the Horizon 2020 projects that are there as well.

The joint report states that UK entities’ right to participate in EU programmes will be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

It also outlines that no EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully, including staff and students at our Universities, will be asked to leave the country when the UK exits the EU.

This means that there will be no change from the current arrangements for over two and a half years.

To provide further reassurance, in addition to agreement of the joint report, our commitment to guarantee the UK share of Horizon 2020 funding stands no matter the outcome of negotiations so all successful Horizon 2020 bids submitted while the UK remains a member state will be able to continue with an uninterrupted flow of funding.

And my message to all UK based scientists is to continue bidding into these programmes. As well as protecting UK beneficiaries from the impact of EU Exit and providing the certainty that those projects need to complete their work.

So what will the future look like?

Of course, with or without the decision to leave the European Union in 2020 the current EU research programme will come to an end. Horizon 2020 was always a time-limited project, and this continues to be the case.

But you will want to know what comes next for the UK.

I assure you that we are actively engaging, from inside the room, to make sure that the next generation of programmes build on the successes of Horizon 2020.

And one of the things I needed clarity on certainly during my bilateral meetings at the Informal Competitiveness Council, was that future programmes focus as much on excellence as they have done in the past and I was given very strong reassurances on that.

The Prime Minister and I have been clear that we would welcome an agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives enabling us to tackle the global challenges we face – as Europeans and as global citizens.

This adds to our determination to focus on excellence, but also our intentions to be an open, international partner.

The UK has always been a strong believer in the international nature of research, and will continue to encourage the EU and countries around the world to collaborate on global issues.

I want the EU to flourish, and I want to see science tackle the big issues we are facing down.

But I am the UK’s Minister for Science so, naturally, I want the UK to be the go-to place for scientists, inventors and tech investors across the globe.

That means rest of the world as well, not just the EU.

I’m very proud that the UK became the first nation to sign a formal Science and Innovation agreement with the United States in September 2017.

We’ve also signed a similar agreement with Canada and have developed a joint Science and Innovation Strategy with China.

These agreements provide new opportunities for our universities, institutions and businesses so that they can take on bold new challenges in some of the most dynamic research environments in the world.

Through our Science and Innovation agreement with the United States, we’ve invested £65 million in the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment.

These are extraordinary projects so much so that some people call them “mega science”! Hardly the most scientific term, but you can’t deny it has a ring to it.

And no wonder – these investigations are aiming to address the big questions about the origins and structure of the entire Universe. Participating in these projects will keep us where we belong: pushing at the outer limits of human understanding showing the rest of the world what we can do.

We have achieved a great deal with our EU colleagues and I hope we will continue to do so.

We are committed to establishing an ambitious science and innovation agreement with the EU so that we can maintain our close relationship.

We have made a clear commitment to excellence and innovation and no country in the world would want to turn their back on that.

An official agreement between the UK and the EU would be a win-win allowing ongoing collaboration through an established, effective mechanism provided that we maintain the shared focus on excellence.

And if, as the Prime Minister referred to in her Florence speech, the UK continues to take part in specific policies and programmes such as those that promote science, education and culture, any ongoing contribution we agree to make should be proportional and designed to cover our fair share of the costs involved.

We need your help to share these ideas internationally with your partners and collaborators, who can raise this issue with their national governments.

Your actions will support us in securing the best deal for all.

We are heading in the right direction embracing the opportunities and delivering stability and clarity wherever we can.

Still, I know you will have other issues you want to see addressed.

They are fixed in our minds as negotiations continue we will continue to welcome international talent to the UK and we will do all we can to maintain funding to support innovation across the UK.

Our ambitions – and our hopes – are high.

We know you want to keep collaborating and so too do your counterparts.

From Sir William Ramsey’s Nobel in 1904 to Richard Henderson’s in 2017 we have built our scientific reputation on collaboration.

Our relationship with the European Union is changing so now, more than ever, is the time to speak up for collaboration.

That’s what I intend to do – here, in Westminster, throughout Europe and around the world.

And just as a post-script, this week the government announced the Higher Education Funding Review and I’d like to assure you that I’m very focussed that sustainability of any funding system, any changes would have to have regard for sustainability by universities.

With that in mind, I’m planning to stay for as much of the next session as I can, and I know the Committee in two weeks time will enable me to answer more detailed questions on our plan for the way forward.

Thank you for having me and I look forward to working with you to ensure that our collaboration continues, but even more than that the UK generally becomes a place to go to for science and innovation post-Brexit.

Sam Gyimah – 2018 Speech at the Royal Society

Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Minister for Higher Education, at the Royal Society on 22 January 2018.

Thank you to the Royal Society for hosting us today. Speaking as a new science minister, there is nothing that reminds you of Britain’s awe-inspiring history of scientific excellence like a visit to the Royal Society.

The photos of generations of distinguished fellows evoke the UK’s great tradition of research. The current fellowship is a list of global stars in discipline after discipline – a reminder that British science has a remarkable present as well as a great past. The sheaf of stats that you receive as a new minister bears this out – and I have rapidly learnt about exotic data like Field-Weighted Citation Indices – the moral of which is that when it comes to science, Britain continues to punch above its weight.

I’ve also learnt that our research strengths go beyond the scientific remit of the Royal Society to fields of arts, humanities and social sciences. If the watchword of principle of 21st Century innovation is STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths – then the British research base is well positioned for success. After ten days in the job, it’s hard to think that if you are going to be a science and research minister anywhere, Britain is the place.

But I’m also well aware that when it comes to research and innovation, the UK faces its fair share of challenges.

Already I have heard some clear messages from you and your scientific colleagues about areas that need more work.

Importance of achieving a good result for science from Brexit, both in terms of European research funding and in terms of the welcome the UK offers to the world’s best minds.

Despite concerted efforts over a decade to improve business-university links, business R&D remains disappointingly low by international standards. (Some say we lack the critical mass of institutions that sit between business and research that are more common in countries like Germany or Korea.)

A strong suspicion that we are not making the most of the country’s potential when it comes to research talent. Whilst the total number of women professors are growing, HESA stats shows that in one third of universities the proportion of women professors has declined in the last five years. There are more black cleaners and porters than lecturers and professors.

And of course, at a global scale there are a different set of challenges, ones crying out for solutions grounded in technology, science and research: from climate change to how to deploy automation and AI to antimicrobial resistance.

To shape the future, we need a plan

I am of the view that if you want to shape the future, you need to do more than worry. You need to act, and for that you need a plan.

Part of having a plan involves having goals. This is why in the government’s Industrial Strategy has set out a number of grand challenges: areas of societal, global importance where we believe technology and innovation can help us solve some of the most pressing problems facing the world.

It is also why we have set out a commitment to encourage investment in R&D. In other fields, the government has set clear targets as a sign of our aspiration. We show our commitment to our country’s security by spending the NATO target 2% of GDP on defence. We show our commitment to our international obligations by spending the UN aid target of 0.7% of GDP. And now, in the Industrial Strategy White Paper, we are signalling our commitment to the future of our country and the world through our goal to increase UK R&D spending to 2.4%. This is an ambitious target: an increase of two-thirds. We have begun this process with the biggest increase in public R&D funding for 40 year, ensuring that public spending on R&D will rise in every year of this parliament to around £12.5 billion in in 2021/22.

As part of this investment in R&D, I’m pleased to announce – in addition to the launch of the Infrastructure Roadmap – the allocation of £70m through the ‘Accelerating innovative healthcare and medicines’ challenge of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. This investment from government and industry will speed up patient access to new medicines and improve treatments for our ageing society. It will also support new virtual reality projects to help patient recovery. This will see three new Advanced Therapies Treatment Centres opened across the UK in Birmingham, Newcastle and Manchester.

We will be announcing further details of the second wave of challenges within the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund shortly. This new funding will support challenges to allow us to:

Prosper from the energy revolution

Transform construction and food production

Use data improve early diagnosis of disease

Develop the technologies and services to support a society that ages healthy

Use technology to create the audiences of the future for our creative industries

Pioneer technologies in Next generation services and quantum technologies

And we will continue this new approach to mission-driven innovation by launching an expression of interest for Wave 3 of the ISCF.

Openness the world

To tackle these challenges effectively, we will need to work together with the best and brightest from around the world. Science and innovation are global enterprises. Bill Joy, the founder of Sun Microsystems, famously said “no matter who you are, the smartest people mostly work for someone else”; this is true for companies, but it is also true for countries. British science is at its best when we collaborate deeply with other countries, and welcome researchers to the UK.

To this end, we are working to deepen our research and innovation ties to other countries – such as the historic agreements we have recently signed with the US and China.

It also means securing the best possible relationship with the EU after Brexit. I am deeply conscious of the importance of Horizon 2020 and future framework programmers to research in the UK and the huge benefits we have reaped from participation in programmes like the ERC. We are working hard to secure a good research and innovation agreement with the EU after Brexit, and I can confirm that I have already had cordial discussions with Commissioner Carlos Moedas, and will be sitting down with him and other EU science ministers in Bulgaria next week, as my first foreign trip in the job.

UKRI and its strategic role

Having goals is a necessary part of having a plan, but not a sufficient one. You also need to capacity to carry out the plan, and to work out how you are doing. This is where UK Research & Innovation comes into the picture.

The establishment of UKRI was, from the point of view of science and research, the central part of the reforms set out in the Higher Education and Research Act. (At this point, I must acknowledge my great debt to my predecessor in this role Jo Johnson, for stewarding this major reform through Parliament, and to discussing it with so many of you here.)

UKRI matters because it can fund research and innovation in a mindful, considered and strategic way. Because it brings together the seven Research Councils, it will be better able to bridge the gap between the sciences, social science, and arts & humanities. Because it connects Innovate UK together with the Research Councils, it will improve the links between research and innovation. The first two waves of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is financing R&D in fields with important business applications, suggest that these links are already bearing fruit.

And by linking Research England to the research councils, it will enable us to carefully consider and better align our funding for specific research projects with the quality related research funding stream. Research England’s work with the other UK funding bodies and the Office for Students will help UKRI in its consideration of the sustainability of the research base, a joined up skills and talent pipeline and an approach to innovation which captures the strengths of each of the devolved nations.

Just as important will be UKRI’s ability to make strategic funding choices. Sir John Kingman (who I was delighted to see appointed as substantive UKRI chair last week) argued that UKRI should aspire to provide a “strategic brain” for research funding, looking right across the UK landscape. This strategic brain would complement the existing processes of the research councils and Innovate UK, and would help ensure that funding opportunities were not overlooked because they fall afoul of disciplinary boundaries, and that important emerging areas are prioritised.

The infrastructure roadmap – an example of what UKRI can do

A good example of the kind of prioritisation that UKRI makes possible is the Infrastructure Roadmap that we are here to initiate today, an initiative where the UK will want and need to play on a global scale. As you know far better that I do, good science and effective innovation depend not just on brainpower and funding but on the right infrastructure.

Some of this is big, imposing physical kit: from linear accelerators and data centres to research stations, Met Office super-computers and, of course, Boaty McBoatface. Some of it is rather more intangible: such as carefully-collected longitudinal data sets or institutions like the Catapult centres, which are as much about networks and know-how as they are about physical buildings.

The roadmap will survey the state of the UK’s research and innovation infrastructure, and use this mapping to inform the prioritisation of future investments.

This matters. If we let our infrastructure decay, research and innovation suffer. In his superb book, “England and the Aeroplane”, historian of science David Edgerton describes how a lack of appropriate wind tunnels and testbed was one of the factors that caused Britain’s aerospace industry, which was at the cutting edge of technology at the end of WW2, to fall behind that of the US. But if we can invest strategically in new infrastructure, we can open up new vistas for research, especially as digital technologies are changing the way research works in discipline after discipline. An example of this is the Structural Genomics Consortium, based at the University of Oxford, is a great example of how open science has been used to spur on innovation in drug discovery. Currently funded by 13 public and private organisations, the consortium takes an open and innovative approach to intellectual property, which allows the industrial partners to collaborate and maximise the impact of the research

I hope that the Infrastructure Roadmap will be a sign of things to come from UKRI. There is huge potential for UKRI to build on the promising work that has been done by the Research Councils, Innovate UK and HEFCE in recent years to improve how we use data to understand the research base, to investigate promising areas, and to record the impact both of research itself and of the ways we fund research. There is also a great opportunity for UKRI to improve how we communicate research and its benefits to the general public, who after all pay for what we do and have a right to know about it – especially if we want to win popular support for greater public funding of research.

This work will be led by Professor Mark Thomson, the new Executive Chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. I am delighted to announce Professor Thomson’s appointment today; he will be a great asset to STFC, reinforcing the UK’s reputation as being world-beating in this exciting and ever-evolving area of science.

Mark will take over from STFC Chief Executive Brian Bowsher at the beginning of April when UKRI comes into being. I’m sure we would all like to take the opportunity to thank Brian for his sterling work at the helm of STFC over the last year and congratulate him for his OBE in the New Year Honours.

Sir Mark and I will be speaking more about the future of UKRI in the weeks and months leading up to its formal launch on 1 April. I am hopeful that it will live up to its promise of being the most exciting research funder in the world.

Encouraging optimism, and the limits of planning

Having spoken about the importance of having a plan, I’d like to conclude with a few words of humility. One thing I know is that plans that are too rigid generally don’t survive contact with reality.

The best plans are dynamic, not dictatorial, and allow room for chance and for change. The same is true when it comes to the government’s vision for research and innovation.

To encourage innovation, it is not enough to increase investment and to set challenges. We also need to provide the freedom that innovators and optimists need to thrive. In the world of business, this means creating the conditions for new entrants to and competing with old established firms. It means improving access to finance for the best new businesses to scale up.

It means making sure that our regulators and the rules they make are tech-savvy, and responsive to new ways of doing things. We should draw on examples like the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, where informed, proportionate regulation, devised with public consent, created the conditions where research and investment could flourish, safe from both over-zealous legislators and public backlash.

And it also means ensuring there is space for serendipity in research. As the sociologist Robert Merton pointed out over sixty years ago, major breakthroughs arise unexpectedly or obliquely. No doubt many of you will recognise this from your own research. Shatterproof glass, penicillin, cancer chemotherapy, and vulcanized rubber are just a few examples of how the most important discoveries are sometimes the most unexpected. Alongside challenge-led funding pots like the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, we believe it is essential to continue to fund curiosity- driven research generously. And we will continue to support a diverse funding system, which values the role of the UK’s impressive research charities, and recognises the importance of QR funding in allowing institutions to invest in their own ideas and capabilities.

Providing freedom and encouragement for innovators and independent thinkers is essential for the future of research and for the future of the country.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by congratulating UKRI beginning their infrastructure roadmap.

Rising to Global expectations – It will be welcomed in much, if not all, of the UK’s S&R community; but there are global expectations, and we are being watched carefully to see how this great new organisation works – just what will be different for those wanting to work with UK researchers and innovators that will be ensure the UK is hugely attractive to others?

As we celebrate rising R&D spend from HMG, how will UKRI balance the need to clear accountability (which suggests plenty of process and rules) with creating the space I have just referred to for creativity and invention?

Launching in April 2018, UKRI will be critical – ensuring the UK maintains its world leading position in research and innovation. It will catalyse a more strategic, agile and interdisciplinary approach to addressing global challenges and play a key role in helping the UK strengthen its competitiveness as part of the new Industrial Strategy.

If you want to shape the future, it helps to have a plan. UKRI and its infrastructure roadmap is part of that plan.

Sam Gyimah – 2016 Speech on Early Years Workforce

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Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, in Milton Keynes on 4 July 2016.

Thank you for that kind introduction. It’s a pleasure to be here today at the NDNA 2016 conference.

Just over a year ago the government introduced legislation to extend free childcare for working parents and during that time I think we have made clear our commitment to the early years and giving children the best start in life.

In September the early implementers will mean that working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds in some areas of the country will be able to use 30 hours of free childcare, with the national roll-out following a year later in 2017. At the heart of 30 hours – as with the existing entitlements – is high-quality provision, because quality of provision delivers the best outcomes for children – helping to prepare them for school and improving their future life chances.

In terms of quality, the workforce is the sector’s biggest asset. Having the right people with the right skills and being able to deploy them in the best ways makes a big difference to outcomes. As Andreas Schleicher of the OECD has said, “staff qualifications are one of the strongest predictors of the quality of early childhood education and care.”

In November last year I set out my wider vision for the early years workforce. I want young people to consider the early years as a career of choice and a sector in which they can pursue long-term ambitions. I want those already working in the sector to have the opportunity to enhance their skills and to pursue the qualifications that enable them to progress and develop.

Today I want to say more about this workforce strategy and my vision for it. I want the strategy to support development of a well-qualified workforce with the right knowledge and skills to deliver high-quality early education and childcare for all children aged 0 to 5. I also want the strategy to support the supply of a sufficient workforce to deliver free entitlements by removing barriers to attracting, retaining and developing staff. Today I will outline the approach and initial thinking that is informing the strategy’s development, ahead of launching it later this year.

But I’d like to start with a reminder of how much there is to celebrate already among the dedicated early years workforce:

– between 2008 and 2013 the proportion of staff in full day care with at least a level 3 qualification increased from 75 to 87% and we are making incremental steps to increasing the graduate workforce

– the quality of the workforce is a key factor in delivering good-quality provision and so it is unsurprising that as the qualification levels of staff have risen, so too has the quality of provision; statistics released this week show 86% were judged good or outstanding

– and most importantly the benefits of better-quality provision have impacted on children; EYFS profile results showed 66.3% of children achieved a good level of development compared with 60.4% in 2014

This provides us with a solid foundation on which to build and make more progress.

My starting point for developing the workforce strategy has been to make sure that I understand the challenges facing the early years workforce. To inform this I have spent the last few months listening to feedback from stakeholders. And then I have begun to consider what government’s role might be in helping to address those challenges.

As you all know, beyond the minimum requirements set out in the Early years foundation stage framework, employers are free to staff their settings as they wish. Providers rightly adopt a staffing model which suits the needs the children and parents they serve and which fits their business model. Employers are responsible for attracting and recruiting staff, making sure they have the appropriate qualifications to count in ratios, setting rates of pay and supporting staff development.

So what then is the role of government?

I believe government has a role in supporting the development of a well-qualified workforce with the right knowledge and skills to deliver quality early education and care to young children and to support the delivery of the free entitlements – especially because with the 30 hours offer, government will be an even bigger buyer of childcare than before. I have emphasised how important it is for government to set quality standards and I have committed publicly to making sure that the current ratios and qualification requirements for staff will remain.

But government also has a responsibility to make sure that national policy does not present barriers to developing the capacity of the workforce to deliver high-quality childcare – I want the sector to thrive.

I am therefore committed to making sure that the workforce strategy actively removes or reduces barriers to attracting, retaining and promoting staff and to showcasing the sector as a great place to work, with clear progression routes for those considering a career in the early years. As part of this, I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that whatever staffing model providers choose to adopt, they have the confidence that potential employees who have undertaken early years specific training regulated by government have the knowledge and skills they need to do a good job and deliver quality childcare and early education.

I believe that government also has a role, alongside employers, in developing clear progression routes for early years staff and supporting childcare providers to establish the best structures and approaches to sharing learning and accessing good-quality CPD.

As I said earlier, I have been listening. And over the past few months I have heard some clear messages coming from a range of stakeholders, including the NDNA who have been vocal on a number of issues on your behalf.

We all know that people’s career choices can be made early in their lives and many of you have told me that you do not think that careers advice about roles in the early years sector is attracting sufficient or appropriate people into the early years. I want to tackle this and will be setting out a plan of action through the strategy. I also want to consider how we reach out to those who have worked in the sector before to encourage them to return and to those who are considering a career change and want to enter a rewarding role that makes a real difference to society.

The most common issue that people have raised with me in terms of attracting staff has been the recruitment of staff at level 2 and 3 since the introduction of the GCSE requirement for level 3 staff in September 2014. I have heard from employers that they feel the requirement is reducing the pool of new staff coming into the sector. But there are also those who support the requirement and say that other factors such as an improving economy are impacting on recruitment to a greater extent. And others have said that the decision to enable trainees to take GCSE English and maths alongside their EYE training is helping more and more staff to access level 3 whilst also providing valuable transferable knowledge, skills and qualifications for individuals.

I have heard the concerns from significant parts of the sector for swift action to remove the GCSE requirement and I want to ensure you that I will be revisiting the options on how to make sure the sector has both the right number of staff and the right quality of staff to deliver 30 hours alongside the workforce strategy.

As part of that I think it’s important to consider the fundamental principles behind numeracy and literacy qualification requirements for members of staff and how best to make sure staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to deliver high-quality early years education and care.

In government we are increasingly taking an employer-led approach to the development of qualifications – across all occupations. The work of apprenticeship trailblazer groups reflects this and the forthcoming publication of the Sainsbury review into technical education will also support this employer-led approach.

The early years educator was the result of extensive sector consultation on the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct a level 3 role and has been welcomed by employers. I want to continue this joint approach and am considering how the workforce strategy can complement the wider government focus on employer led qualifications development.

Part of government’s drive on quality has been to supply the sector with a pool of specialist early years graduates through the EYP and EYT training programmes.

Graduate places are fully funded by government, course fees are paid and there are incentives available for eligible learners through bursary payments. We want to continue to support the sector to access graduates through the early years initial teacher training programme in 2017 to 2018.

Government also offers funding to support employers to release staff undertaking employment-based early years teacher training and I encourage employers here today to consider that scheme.

The schools white paper includes proposals for the reform of QTS and this provides exciting avenues for us to explore and we will do so. But we must also not lose sight of the fact that the majority of early years teachers work in the PVI sector where QTS is not required, but where specialist graduates can support improved quality.

As I said earlier it is not government’s job to tell settings how to manage their workforce and as you know there is no requirement in the EYFS for settings to employ a graduate, but I would like to encourage employers to consider government’s offer to support employment-based initial teacher training.

Employment-based routes provide an opportunity for those already working in the sector to progress. I understand however that the lack of a clear progression route from level 3 to level 6 may be standing in the way of some staff moving on, and this is something we will consider further.

Overall I want the strategy to encourage people to join the sector because it offers the opportunity to improve the life chances of children at the earliest and most important stage of their lives and because there is potential to learn and progress on a professional basis. As I have said before, my vision is that the sector is recognised as a place where people can work their way up to become an early years educator, an early years teacher, a centre manager, a manager of a chain, or perhaps an entrepreneur establishing their own childcare business.

Career progression is not just about qualifications, it is also about having access to professional development that supports staff to improve their practice, acquire specialist knowledge and skills, and become system leaders. I believe that government has a role in facilitating that development by helping to establish the infrastructure and supporting the partnerships through which settings can share good practice and access informal CPD that supports improved quality.

We have provided funding to support partnerships between teaching schools and PVIs to improve children’s readiness for school by improving the skills of the workforce. There have been great results from supporting staff development across special educational needs and disability; literacy, speech and language and communication, and improving the early education of disadvantaged children.

It’s really pleasing to see teaching schools building capacity in the system in this way that will help to create a successful future childcare system. I want us to consider how we can continue to support quality improvement activity through the workforce strategy, and encourage providers to focus on specific issues such as SEND where we know improvements can be made.

I hope that this focus on recruitment, retention and progression gives you a sense of what I see as the scope for the workforce strategy and I look forward to sharing more with you later in the year.

When we think about workforce quality, it’s important to remember that staff have an incredibly important role in supporting learning and development and keeping children safe and well. There’s nothing more important than the safety and security of children – we trust the workforce to look after their well-being.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce today that the Department for Education has awarded our host this morning, NDNA, the contract to deliver a voluntary quality mark for nursery providers that have trained all of their staff in paediatric first aid.

The mark will be known as Millie’s Mark, to commemorate Millie Thompson who tragically passed away at her nursery in 2012 following a choking incident. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Millie’s parents, Joanne and Dan, who have campaigned tirelessly in their daughter’s memory to reduce the chances of such tragic accidents happening in future. I know that Joanne is looking forward to talking to you more about this later today.

Nurseries will be able to apply for the mark later on this summer and the mark will help to provide parents with the assurance that their child is being cared for by safe and knowledgeable staff. It is hoped that, over time, this initiative will help ensure that as many staff members as possible are trained in these important, life-saving skills.

I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with NDNA and Dan and Joanne, and to seeing the nurseries that go over and above the existing statutory requirements recognised for their efforts to ensure that their staff have the right skills and to keep children safe.

And I am pleased that today I can go further than this as we publish our response to the consultation on paediatric first aid.

Our proposals received a warm welcome from the sector. And, from this September, all newly qualified level 2 and level 3 staff must also have first aid training to count in the ratios. This will mean an extra 15,000 staff a year coming into the sector with first aid training, providing vital reassurance to parents that their children will be well cared for.

The government is prioritising the early years because we know how important they are for children’s development and future life chances. I look forward to continuing to work together with all of you in the sector as we develop our workforce strategy and meet the wider aim of giving children the best start in life.

Sam Gyimah – 2016 Speech on Mental Health Pilots

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Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, in London on 28 April 2016.

Thank you Miranda [Wolpert, Reader in Evidence-Based Practice and Research at University College London, and Director of the Evidence-Based Practice Unit] for inviting me to join you at this event today. I am really pleased to be here with so many of you who have had first-hand experience of the pilot, and from so many of the areas involved.

As the first Department for Education minister with specific responsibility for mental health, I am always delighted to have the opportunity to speak at events like today.

The situation before the pilots

I would first like to take a moment to think about what prompted us to do these pilots.

Eighteen months ago, the picture for local mental health provision for children and young people was not great.

There were difficulties in making ‘good’ referrals. There were long waiting times before an initial assessment could be made, and, then, there was sometimes yet another wait for young people before specialist support was available.

This all resulted in added worry and anxiety for young people and their families, who were already in a stressful situation coping with a mental health problem.

The work of the cross-government task force focused on how we could improve the experiences of these young people and their families.

Through the taskforce, we heard that there were many frustrations experienced between schools and specialist services when a child needed treatment. CAMHS felt schools did not understand them. And sometimes schools would refer children for treatment, even where it wasn’t right for the child. Schools felt that their pupils weren’t always getting the help that they needed. In short, the link between schools and CAMHS was not working.

I am sure the picture I have painted is one you can all recognise. It is certainly one that those involved in the taskforce, particularly the children and young people who spoke about their experiences of the system, would recognise.

We know all too well that when schools and CAMHS are not working effectively together, it is young people who suffer. And even one child suffering as a result of a struggling system is one too many.

That is why I am working closely with Alastair Burt to integrate the two systems. And we have realised that this is a whole different ball game. But we know the past situation needed to change.

And you and your colleagues have begun to make this crucial change through the single point of contact pilot.

The pilot

So what do we mean by a single point of contact? This is one contact point in CAMHS working with a number of schools in their area and acting as the ‘go to’ person for these schools. Each school nominates a named staff member who will interact with this ‘go to’ CAMHS contact.

Schools and CAMHS work together and maintain an open channel of communication, acting as the ‘bridge’ between school and CAMHS. They receive the same training to provide consistency across the system.

In the pilot CAMHS contacts have worked with groups of 10 schools.

Teachers in each school can contact their named staff member whenever they need to. This makes it easier for teachers to voice their concerns with someone they know and trust, so they don’t feel out of their depth.

Because teachers aren’t mental health professionals, nor should we expect them to be. Yet we can’t escape the fact that young people do spend lots of their time in school and so teachers do spot things. Often parents come to teachers to voice concerns about their child too. So it is vital we make it as easy as possible for teachers to interact with CAMHS.

I know that being involved in this pilot hasn’t been easy but it wouldn’t have been needed if it were.

For some, attending the first workshop was the first time health and education colleagues had been in the same room together and this lead to some very difficult conversations about why you were there and what you were supposed to be doing.

However, as a result of your perseverance and hard work you have all reached a much better understanding of the part you play, day in and day out, in supporting children and young people with mental health issues.

These pilots have started us on the road to more collaborative working, improved conversations and better relationships, ultimately leading to improved outcomes for children and their families.

Funding

But we know relationships and communication aren’t everything. These must, of course, be complimented by funding. We know this better than anyone and we have invested significantly in mental health.

This government has made available £1.4 billion additional funding for mental health. The collaborative approach of the pilots is a key way people can – and have – come together to make best use of this. The NHS-England-led transformation planning process also plays a key role, and I know that Jackie [Cornish, National Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Transition to Adulthood for NHS England] will want to say more on this shortly.

Where next?

So, where do we go from here?

I am looking forward to hearing the full results of the evaluation in the autumn but, in the meantime, we would like to to do more to build on your experiences and continue the momentum.

You will hear more later about what we have learned from these pilots and the evaluation process you all took part in.

Over the coming months we will be working with NHS England, the Anna Freud Centre, and our evaluators to scale up this approach in your areas. This means working with more schools, including those that are harder to reach.

This will involve a lot of work. But, I know there is strong local endorsement for this, and that we are pushing at an open door.

Wider work in the Department for Education (DfE)

Of course, coming at this from a DfE perspective, we have a focus on early intervention, rather than clinical problems. And it is increased understanding, awareness, and the confidence to speak out that are key to accessing early intervention.

So we have funded: PSHE lesson plans for teachers; MindEd resources for parents; and set up a £1.5 million fund for young people to provide peer support to each other. We also updated our advice on mental health and behaviour and published an updated school counselling blueprint.

Crucially, these sorts of resources and investments will help young people, teachers, and parents alike to identify mental health problems. This will allow them to make effective referrals to CAMHS at the right moment.

Through our joint work with NHS England on the pilots, we hope that in the future the system these young people are referred into will be operating at its peak.

Because when a young person develops a mental health problem this is stressful for them, their parents, their teachers, and all those close to them.

Concluding remarks

We know that the system is not working effectively.

And we know that we cannot change the system overnight.

But I do hope that through these pilots we have started the journey towards a better, more coherent system between schools and CAMHS, so that people can navigate this landscape more easily.

It is never easy dealing with a mental health problem, and whilst the stigma around this exists, there is an added level of complexity and pressure.

Imagine being a suffering young person or a worried parent or teacher in this situation. As a parent myself, I can only begin to imagine how difficult this must be.

And that is why we are working closely with NHS England and the Department of Health to try to improve this system and improve the experiences of children, young people and families.

Thank you again for having me here today and I wish you every success as we continue on this journey together.

I know we are only part of the way there, and that it will be an uphill climb. But I hope that the good relationships built from these pilots can be a strong first foot forward as we progress into the future.

Sam Gyimah – 2016 Speech on the Importance of School Funding

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Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, at the FASNA Spring Conference held in the Grand Connaught Rooms, London on 10 March 2016.

Thank you for that kind introduction.

It is a pleasure to be speaking to FASNA today. An organisation established by educationalists who wanted to take charge of their schools’ own destinies.

An organisation that recognises that autonomy drives innovation and pushes for ever higher standards for students.

And this government is committed to the very principles upon which you are founded.

Today, there are over 5,000 academies, free from local authority control, across England. And we are committed to moving toward full academisation during this Parliament – ensuring that every child has access to a school with the autonomy and freedoms, that you tirelessly champion, and that will allow pupils to flourish.

Europe

But, before I discuss the importance of our reforms to the role of the LA and schools funding, I would like to set out my position on something everyone is talking about right now and that’s Britain’s membership of the European Union.

It is better for Britain that we stay as part of the EU.

It will be better for British businesses to have full participation in the free trade single market – bringing jobs, investment, lower prices and financial security.

It will be safer because we can work closely with other countries to fight cross-border crime and terrorism.

We will be stronger because we can play a leading role in one of world’s largest organisations from within.

Helping to make the big decisions that affect us.

The task of reforming Europe does not end with the agreement secured by the Prime Minister.

But our special status gives us the best of both worlds – securing the benefits of being in the EU for families across the UK, but staying out of the parts of Europe that don’t work for us. So we will never join the Euro, be part of Eurozone bailouts or an EU super-state.

I believe that Britain is stronger, safer and better off in a reformed European Union. And I will continue to campaign for us to vote to remain.

Levels of spending in schools and consultation launch
But moving on, because – as we know – education is not an EU competence!

Realising potential and transforming education is central to this government’s mission of extending opportunity and delivering social justice.

The Spending Review was evidence of that: protecting core schools funding in real terms for the duration of this Parliament.

And this is a strong commitment because funding to schools is over £40 billion – the largest education budget given to primary and secondary schools in this country’s history.

That record level of funding has been driven by the additional funding we added to schools budgets through the pupil premium over the last Parliament. We are now delivering more than £2.5 billion a year to meet the Conservative manifesto commitment to target additional funding at the most disadvantaged students.

Larger budgets also mean an even greater imperative for us to ensure parents know that funding is being used in the best way possible to further their child’s life chances.

And I want to take this opportunity to thank sector groups for their constructive engagement with government to push this important topic further up the education agenda.

On Monday, the government announced the first stage of its consultation on fair funding. This is the first stage of our consultation as we seek views on the principles we use to design the formula, the building blocks we use to construct the formula, and the factors we include in the formula.

We want to develop a system of funding that is fair and transparent, with resources matched to pupils’ and schools’ needs consistently across the country.

This is a foundational element of the education system. It will be more important than ever to see the responses from across the education sector – helping us to make the right decisions on funding reform.

I look forward to seeing FASNA’s response to the consultation, alongside other interested parties from across the entire education sector.

Linking government objective to funding reform

The government’s objective for education is straightforward: to deliver educational excellence everywhere. It is through this objective that we will deliver a highly educated society in which every child can reach their potential.

As the minister with responsibility for education funding, the word that focuses my attention the most is ‘everywhere’.

Everywhere means we must approach education with the aim to deliver a level playing field for all pupils. It must be an approach in which all our schools, teachers and, most importantly, pupils can reach their full potential.

And what do I mean by a level playing field everywhere?

It means:

– high-quality teachers everywhere

– high aspirations everywhere across the system

– a funding system that is blind to irrelevant factors

It means a funding system that is wide-eyed to factors that impact educational success – be that special educational needs, disability or economic disadvantage.

The development of existing system

I don’t think anyone really disagrees with those principles.

But despite this, the current arrangements for funding our pupils could not be more different. In the current system, the difference between the highest average rate of funding and the lowest rate of funding is nearly £3,000.

In the current system, the difference in a school’s annual budget – the same school, with the same pupils – can vary by up to £2.5 million depending on the school’s location within England.

That cannot be the right system of funding if we are serious about educational equity and teachers having the right resources to support pupils with the same educational needs. My question – and I’m sure your question also – is how have we possibly ended up with a funding system like this?

The wide variations are driven by local authorities who determine their own local formula. Formulae that are complex, opaque, but crucially very different from one another.

And as well as widely differing local formulae, local authorities are making decisions to transfer money between their budgets for schools, for special needs and for early years. Meaning that money allocated for schools may not reach frontline teachers.

This kind of decision-making is out of date, as more schools become academies, independent of local authority management and often operating in groups that cut across local authority boundaries and indeed regions.

And all of this is compounded by a system for allocating funding to each local authority area that is based, not on a calculation of local need, but by reference to local authority spending decisions that were made more than a decade ago, with no proper account of how circumstances have changed in that time. To say it another way: a year 7 pupil’s funding allocation is determined on educational needs in their area before they were even born.

But what do these points mean practically? It means the same child, in the same circumstances, can be funded vastly differently from one location to the next.

Right now, a parent that moved just a few miles from Haringey to Hackney would increase funding for their child by £1,000. Or choosing to educate your child in Darlington rather than Middlesbrough would be a difference of nearly £700.

And these are just 2 of the countless examples of the excessive funding variations, for the exact same child, that is evident across the whole of England.

Let me make my position clear:

– this system is not fair to schools and teachers

– this system is not fair to parents

– most importantly, this system is not fair to young people

We’ve ended up with so much inequity of funding because in many cases locally, the distribution of funding has been decided primarily to protect past funding levels, irrespective of changes in the needs of pupils from year to year.

Let me give you one more example: in Reading, students receive on average £4,000 per pupil. In Wakefield, a local authority with a lower proportion of students on free school meals and a lower proportion with additional language needs, each pupil receives £4,500.

Simply put: areas in which educational needs are lower are receiving more funding. As the IFS have acknowledged, the current system is one in which local authorities are not good at targeting funding towards the factors that influence educational needs such as disadvantage. Local authorities prefer, when designing their formula, to spread funding in the basic per pupil rate rather than targeting it at the pupils who deserve this additional funding – spreading the impact rather than targeting it at those with the highest needs in order to level the playing field.

It is a credit to your organisation that you continue to promote school autonomy across a system that is blatantly unfair to some of your schools.

Schools that work against the odds of the funding system and deliver outstanding outcomes for their students.

That is why it is this government’s intention to move toward a formula where we fund schools directly.

Removing the local authority middle man.

Placing funding directly in the hands of your outstanding school leaders who know how to use it best.

Principles of funding reform

The principles of our funding reform are simple:

– fair

– based on pupil needs and characteristics

– transparent

We need to rebalance funding so that historically under-funded pupils receive what they deserve. To help schools in those areas drive forward ever-improving student outcomes. Because we know that some schools have been resolute in their push for excellence in the absence of fair funding. In York, over 80% of schools are considered ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ despite it being one of the most poorly funded areas within the country.

This is proof enough that excellence can be achieved everywhere in a fairly funded system. But let me make one thing clear: fair doesn’t just mean equal. We know that funding must take account of differences in local area costs and local challenges. But fairness does mean that funding, everywhere in the country, should be dependent on need.

Let me stress this point again: when I think of funding reform, it is the pupil who is the front and centre. Our most important role is to ensure the right level of funding supports each and every pupil. Of course, schools and areas must be funded adequately, but our most important principle is to get the right level of funding to each pupil. We will achieve this by aligning our funding principles to educational needs.

And these points are recognised by the OECD who show that a well-designed funding formula can be the most efficient, stable and transparent method of funding schools. But, more importantly, one of its central recommendations is that funding must be responsive to students’ needs.

Funding equality achieved by funding those schools with similar characteristics at the same rate, and directing more funding to schools where pupils have higher educational needs. How can we believe in a level playing field with equality of opportunity when these disparities are common across the whole education funding system?

A national fair funding formula will realign our funding policy with the underlying objective of an educationally equal playing field.

Aligning funding to need – delivering educational excellence everywhere.

Sector bodies

I am also pleased that sector bodies and unions across the whole of education have engaged constructively on these issues and offered their support. A campaign driven by the F40 to address the clear inequity in the system, and a campaign that is supported organisations such as the ASCL, the NAHT and FASNA.

High needs

But, I know that funding reform is about more than just the schools budget – because the same arguments apply to our funding for high needs.

However, this is – bluntly – a more difficult area than the schools budget. We know that students with special educational needs and/or disabilities need additional funding to help them achieve their potential.

But, it is more difficult to put into a formula because high needs are less predictable.

That is why we must design a system that recognises this and allocates money to local authorities transparently and fairly without perverse incentives.

But, this isn’t just about fairness for pupils. This is about fairness for parents – who tirelessly look after their children with additional needs to give them best education possible.

It isn’t fair to the pupils or the parents that funding, as of right now, is not strongly enough related to need.

ISOS research for the department identified large inequities in the system: in one local authority the average funding for a student with a statement or on school action plus was £15,000 but in another local authority it was less than £4,500. How can this be the right system of funding?

A child’s type of care and support should not be determined on geography alone. The pupil who requires a speech therapist in Surrey is no different to the pupil who needs that support in Liverpool.

In the system as it stands today, we have now has seen some local authorities who are underfunded struggling to implement the SEND reforms of the Children and Families Act introduced in 2014.

I want a system of high-needs funding that means parents know their child will have funding that properly reflects their needs and not a system of funding linked to what was spent by that local authority in the past.

Parents and their children with high needs deserve to know that the funding they need will be there irrespective of where they choose to live.

They deserve that security. They deserve that equality.

Synthesis and finish

I think the case for change is very clear.

Local variation in funding has become so wide – that pupils are funded on the basis of geographic accident.

Funded as a result of history; not funded as a product of pupils needs.

We all agree that we cannot build opportunity that is equal for all children and young people in that kind of funding system.

That is why our national funding formula will be about fairness.

Individual pupils will be front and centre – ensuring that funding, in every school across the country, is best matched to pupils’ educational needs.

And through that, funding reform will be the foundation in ensuring educational excellence is achieved everywhere.

Thank you.

Sam Gyimah – 2015 Speech on Support for Families

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Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, at 61, Whitehall, London, on 4 December 2015.

Good morning, it’s a pleasure to be here today at the Family and Childcare Trust, whose aim is to make the UK a better place for families, campaigning for affordable and accessible, high-quality childcare.

As Childcare Minister, I am pleased to say that government shares these objectives. Support for families is at the heart of our agenda. We want to give children from all backgrounds the best start in life and deliver high-quality childcare that parents can access and afford, and that works best for them.

And last week’s Spending Review showed how committed we are to supporting parents and families. Over the course of this Parliament we will invest more in childcare than any government before. By 2019 to 2020 we will be spending over £6 billion to support parents with childcare, £1 billion more per year, covering the free entitlements for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds, Tax-Free Childcare, and the childcare element of the Universal Credit, which will provide support of up to 85% of childcare costs.

The average market price paid for 25 hours of nursery provision for children aged 2 and over has risen by 69% in the last 10 years. It’s no surprise that working families struggle to find high-quality, affordable childcare. That’s why we are putting parents at the heart of our childcare offer and why we pledged to increase the free entitlement for 3- and 4-year-olds from 15 hours to 30 hours for working parents.

What does this mean in practice? Working parents will continue to get 15 hours a week of free childcare. In addition to this, from September 2017, working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds will be able to get 30 hours a week of free childcare, worth up to £5,000 per child a year.

Early implementation pilots will mean this will happen earlier – in 2016 – in some parts of the country. This will be an important opportunity to test what works and what doesn’t in delivering the extended entitlement before we roll out the additional 15 hours nationally.

The reforms mean that along with the introduction of Tax-Free Childcare, which will provide support worth up to £2,000 per child per year, working families with 2 children could have claimed support with childcare costs worth up to £40,000 by the time both children go to school.

We’re making this investment because of the benefits for children – with development and school readiness – but also to give families greater choice to work or work without being put off by childcare costs.

30 hours eligibility

There is a lot of speculation over eligibility. Every 3- and 4-year-old child will still get 15 hours free – the existing universal entitlement for 3- and 4-year-olds – which has very high take-up of 96%.

Studies like the ‘Effective pre-school, primary and secondary education’ (EPPSE) study – carried out by academics at the Institute of Education, University of Oxford, and Birkbeck, University of London, has shown how successful the 15 hours is for educational attainment and that’s why it’s so important.

Parents will be able to access the additional 15 hours if they each work at least the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the national minimum wage or living wage, including those who are self-employed, and the same threshold will apply in the case of lone-parent households. On current minimum wage levels, anyone earning more than around £107 a week will be eligible.

We are setting an income cap set at £100,000, whereby parents earning more than that won’t be able to access the additional entitlement, although we’re not talking about a combined income here, but rather if one parent’s salary exceeds £100,000. This cap puts the extended entitlement in line with the tax system and means support is targeted at those who need it most.

We also recognise that families have different circumstances which need to be taken into account.

Parents working on zero-hours contracts will be eligible so long as they meet the criteria I just mentioned. Where one parent is employed, but the other has substantial caring responsibilities or one parent is disabled, the family will be eligible. Where both parents are employed, but one or both parents are temporarily away from the workplace, for example on maternity or adoption leave, the additional free hours will still be available, which will support continuity for families.

Quality

Quality is at the heart of what we are offering parents through the entitlements. Because we know it is quality of provision that delivers the best outcomes for young people, helping to prepare them for school and with their development more broadly.

At August 2015, 85% of providers on the early years register were rated good or outstanding for overall effectiveness. Ratings for providers in the most deprived areas have improved from 59% good or outstanding in 2010 to 79% good or outstanding in 2015. Congratulations to all the providers in the sector for delivering this high-quality provision.

We have confirmed that we will not adjust statutory staff-to-child ratios to deliver our pledge to offer more free childcare; and I will reiterate today that ratios won’t change. As the costs of childcare review we carried out shows, there are large benefits to operating at the statutory ratio of 1:8 and high-quality provision is delivered by providers who make the most of the flexibility offered by the current regulatory requirements.

And we’re making sure we have the best-quality staff.

The qualification level of the early years workforce has been rising – in group daycare settings 87% of the workforce have a relevant level 3 qualification and many members of the workforce have qualifications beyond this. We know this is important because leading international educational experts have found that staff qualifications are “one of the strongest predictors of the quality of early childhood education and care”.

We have provided specialist training for some of our highest-quality graduates through early years initial teacher training; we have set clear qualification requirements for staff working in childcare settings so that they have a solid grounding in supporting children’s learning; and we have provided funding to help deliver on-the-job training and development for childcare staff.

But I want to do more to make sure young people consider the early years as a career of choice and a sector in which they can pursue a long-term career full of potential. And I want those already working in the sector to have the opportunity to enhance their skills and to pursue qualifications that enable them to progress.

I want us to do all we can to improve career progression routes. So through a workforce strategy I will explore how we can develop a career structure for all staff, as well as put in place a clear career path for apprentices in the sector.

This is a key priority for me going forward.

Funding places

As well as being high-quality, we want to ensure that a free place for parents is exactly that, a free place.

Through the investment we announced at the Spending Review we are setting a level of funding that will enable childcare providers to deliver high-quality care for children and parents, while at the same time providing value for money to the taxpayer. The overall increase in funding for childcare includes £300 million a year from 2017 to 2018 to increase the national average hourly funding rate paid to providers for the free entitlements. The new average hourly rate is £4.88 for 3- and 4-year-olds and £5.39 for 2-year-olds, and the equivalent rate per carer for 3- and 4-year-olds is £39. We based this funding on a comprehensive review of childcare costs, including careful assessment of 2,000 replies we had to the funding review, with input from all the leading sector organisations.

We were the only party at the general election to commit to raise the average funding rate paid to providers and we have now delivered that.

And we will make sure as much money as possible gets to the front line. I understand the way the local authority top slice works and how that leads to variation in rates across local areas, and that funding differs depending on types of provider. As the Chancellor announced at the Spending Review, we are committed to ensuring that funding is allocated in the fairest way and we will consult on an early years national funding formula next year. This will also consider funding for disadvantaged children and special educational needs.

We are reducing bureaucracy – by simplifying and limiting the conditions that LAs can place on providers. And we are also looking at what else we can do to increase consistency across the country. We will consider whether we can support local authorities in drawing up agreements with providers and whether when providers form a statutory relationship with one local authority, they could then use this when setting up provision in other authorities.

Availability

We know that parents like a mix of provision, combining school nurseries – because they support school readiness – with childminding, day nurseries and other provision. We understand this and want to make sure enough places are created in the sector to support these choices.

So as part of our spending commitments we are also supporting the sector with capital spending, and will allocate at least £50 million to support the creation of early years places. In addition, we will create at least 4,000 places through nursery provision as part of new free schools. And we will also consider why some providers on the early years register do not offer the free entitlement to see if we can make changes to encourage them to do so.

All of this means that more childcare places will be created, giving parents better access to the childcare they need. And I want to make sure this works for all parents.

We are opening up new sources of funding in disadvantaged areas through social investment. In March we launched the Childcare Investment Readiness Fund and we will announce the winning applicants shortly.

This will help to generate a new culture of social investment in the early years market, supporting providers to grow. Groups such as LEYF in London have already effectively leveraged social investment and we want these success stories to be more widespread.

I am clear that the free entitlement should be accessible by all eligible children, including special educational needs and disability (SEND) children. That’s why as part of early implementation of the 30-hours entitlement next September, we will be encouraging innovative approaches to providing high-quality, affordable and flexible childcare for working parents whose children are disabled or have special educational needs.

We want to hear more about existing good practice, such as the Solent Teaching Alliance, which is delivering support for private, voluntary and independent nurseries – PVIs – with a focus on children with SEND, and Tor View School, a specialist learning community in East Lancashire helping PVIs in disadvantaged areas improve their support for children with SEND.

We want to support parents with quality and availability of flexible places and help them to make informed choices. That’s why we have worked with childcare.co.uk to develop a digital app which allows parents to search for 2-, 3- and 4-year-old free childcare based on where and when they need it.

Through the Childcare Bill we have introduced a requirement on local authorities to publish information and advice for parents on childcare in their area which will further support them with the information they need – from hours offered to cost and suitability for disabled children.

Flexibility

We know from the Facebook consultation we did over the summer – with nearly 20,000 members of the public – why flexibility and choice are so important to working parents. And, as a working parent myself, I know how important it is to find childcare that you are happy for your child to attend and which accommodates all your needs – from the parent who needs one child picking up from school at 3pm and the other from nursery so needs to combine childminding with traditional PVI provision to make drop-off and pick-up work. To the shift worker who works non-traditional hours.

We want to support parents to make the choices that suit them in a high-quality way and this is what we will be looking at during early implementation.

We have already taken steps to build flexibility within the existing 15-hour entitlement. For example, by encouraging local authorities to fund providers to allow parents to access early education hours between 7am and 7pm so that children can be dropped off earlier in the day or collected later. We will continue to encourage this flexibility because we want childcare to fit with parents’ working hours.

We know that that this kind of flexibility is possible because we already see it in places such as Swindon, where at the Swindon 2 to 19 Academy the free offer for disadvantaged 2-year-olds is being offered over the weekend to support parents’ working patterns. In this case delivery works through a partnership between the school and a private provider, and I want to see more of these types of partnership.

Supporting the type of childcare that parents need applies to all age groups, not just those under 5. That’s why we’re making sure that from September 2016 parents in schools will have a right to request wraparound childcare – before and after school, and during the school holidays.

Simplicity

A key message from parents during consultation was that a simpler system would help them – I’m sure that’s the message from providers too.

With a range of childcare support from government it therefore makes sense that 30 hours matches up with Tax-Free childcare and that as well as the same terms of eligibility, because many parents will be eligible to use both the extended entitlement and Tax-Free Childcare, a joint application is being developed by HMRC which will mean that parents will be able to apply for both schemes through a joint online application.

The Childcare Implementation Taskforce which joins up work on childcare across government will continue to work towards delivering a childcare system which is simpler for parents and providers alike.

Conclusion

Over the course of this Parliament we will invest more in childcare than any government before. We have made a strategic choice to invest in the sector at a time of austerity because we are on the side of working parents.

We will build on existing successes – such as the 96% take up of the existing 3- and 4-year-old offer – to continue developing a childcare system which delivers for families. The decisions taken at the Spending Review and the Childcare Bill currently going through Parliament demonstrate our clear commitment to getting on and doing this.

We will support children to have the best start in life, support families to work and, as a result, allow our country to prosper. But I know more than anyone that this requires an understanding of the childcare sector and working closely with providers, and I look forward to continued engagement with you as we do so.

Sam Gyimah – 2015 Speech on Children and Young People

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Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, in Regents Park, London, on 3 December 2015.

Thank you so much for having me here today (3 December 2015), and for putting on such an important event. The fact that this conference is focused solely on children’s mental health, reflects the priority it should be given. And right across government we are committed to getting it right.

We are at a turning point in how we tackle children’s mental health issues, and events like this one are pivotal in helping us work together to change both how we think about good mental health and what we can do to support it.

It is a just over a year since I was at the Children and Young People Now awards evening, talking about the importance of mental health support. And I am back to the same again today – because young people’s mental health remains a priority for this government.

I am delighted that this year’s winner of the Children and Young People’s Charity Award was won by 42nd Street, the youth mental health charity.

They have rightly been recognised for their outstanding work in delivering a range of therapy and advocacy services for young people in Greater Manchester. These services are reaching some of our most vulnerable young people, increasing their access to early intervention and prevention services.

A lot has happened in the last year, both across government and within the Department for Education.

‘Future in Mind’ was published in March, providing us with a really clear framework for our focus on these issues. Government has committed £1.4 billion over the next 5 years to transform children’s mental health services and each local area is developing a plan to make that transformation a reality.

But there is more happening nationally as well.

Earlier this week I was at the launch of 2 incredible anti-stigma campaigns run by Time to Change. They are 2 digital campaigns. One is the largest ever for teenagers and the other, the first campaign to be targeted specifically at parents.

Both aim to reduce stigma and discrimination and were developed in consultation with the children, young people and their parents. These campaigns will run over the next 3 weeks. And we are really excited about the part they will play in transforming attitudes about mental illness.

At that event, I heard some boldly honest stories from very impressive young people, about the struggles they have faced. It is this honesty and willingness to share with others that will help us to truly tackle the stigma around mental health.

In a moment, I’ll talk to you about the work we have been doing within the Department for Education to look at the ways that we can support schools and colleges to understand and address the mental health needs of their pupils.

But first, a key message I’d like you to take away: the success of these activities depends on putting children and young people at the heart of the policy-making process – nationally and locally. This isn’t new – and it is a theme that I’ll continue to refer to – but it is one that can often get overlooked when with the best will in the world, we’re back at our desks thinking about what we can ‘do’ for children and young people.

I have seen for myself the importance of listening to, and working with young people themselves. Back in July, Alistair Burt and I were expertly grilled by the Youth Select Committee. We were impressed with their knowledge of the issues, their passion for taking action and their insights into what can be done.

No young person wants an adult to tell them how they should feel, or how they should deal with a problem. We held a young person’s round table where we tested our policy ideas with a panel of very young people, with lived experience.

We have distilled this down into 4 areas in which the ‘education system’, can have a particular impact:

  • preventing children and young people from developing poor mental health
  • identifying those who are at risk and who are developing problems
  • providing initial and complementary support within schools, colleges or children’s service settings
  • helping children and young people access specialist services where they need them

Knowledge about mental health is a key underpinning in all 4 areas – to both promote good mental health and recognise and support when things go wrong. Since last year we have put a lot of new things in place.

You may have seen an announcement in the press this morning, from the Secretary of State, that to facilitate better access to specialist services, we are working jointly with NHS England to run pilots looking at how schools and CAMHS can work better together. We have invested £1.5 million and are working with 255 schools to test how training and subsequent joint working can improve local knowledge and identification of mental health issues, and improve referrals to specialist services. This is the most recent thing we have done.

We have also funded the PSHE Association to publish guidance and lesson plans to support age-appropriate teaching about mental health and funded the development of the fantastic MindEd resources to specifically include materials for parents. I would urge you to take a look.

We have updated advice on mental health and behaviour to help schools look beneath behaviour to better support young people with mental health needs, and to help them develop their early support offer we published a blueprint for schools on how to deliver high quality school-based counselling.

In addition, we have invested £5 million in Voluntary and Community Sector grants which include a number of projects developing innovate ways to support children and young people in schools and children’s services. 42nd Street was one of those recipients through its work as part of Youth Access.

And to help us raise awareness and reduce the stigma around young people’s mental health we are working with our first mental health champion, Natasha Devon.

Natasha has real experience of supporting schools to address mental health issues with their pupils and can make a real difference in encouraging more young people to talk openly about mental health and I am thrilled that she is here today.

I am sure you will enjoy her session on developing positive approaches to discussing mental health issues.

But we know there is still a very long way to go and that we are just at the foothills of tackling this incredibly important issue.

At any one time one in 10 children are suffering from a mental illness – that is 3 in any average sized class. Even more alarmingly, a recent study suggests one in 5 children will suffer some form of mental illness during their childhood. We need to do 2 things urgently – we need to do more to prevent occurrences and escalation of illness, and we need to ensure that the support is in place so that those that have a mental illness are not suffering in silence.

The recent Youth Select Committee report on mental health highlighted peer support as a key tool in tackling exam stress.

They also quoted me as saying that I want to use peer support in a large scale way as part of our broader response to young people’s mental health issues. This is something that I am committed to taking forward.

We know that young people understand better than anyone the pressures their peers face. Pressures that are completely different to those we faced when I was growing up. With their online lives following them wherever they go there are no longer the ‘safe spaces’ that I enjoyed, away from the pressures of school-life, friendships and preparing for adult life.

But young people have stressed to us that the online world shouldn’t just be seen as a threat. It’s increasingly where young people look for support too. In recognition of this, we funded the development of the award winning Silent Secret app that allows young people to safely share secrets whilst providing direct support from key organisations when a young person seems to need mental health support.

Silent Secret is just one of the increasing number of apps that provide young people with support from their peers – and this is an area that I am particularly interested in looking at more closely.

Of course there are times that you can’t replace face to face support. At the young person’s round table we held in the last parliament, a particular story stood out for me. A pair of good friends, Amber and Sophia, told of how when Sophia was dealing with anorexia, Amber provided help and support. In Amber’s eyes, this was no more than being a good friend to Sophia, but I’m sure you’ll all agree it is an example of how valuable it can be when young people step up for each other.

With this in mind we will be working over the coming months to find out about what works in peer support. I am setting up an advisory group to identify what good peer support looks like and consider how we can embed it in schools.

We want to hear from children and young people and will be seeking their views through the social media channels that they use to communicate.

I want to consider whether young people would benefit from training to be able to support others better and to provide them with the opportunities, and recognition for, volunteering to support their peers with appropriate advice and information. And by simply being there to listen.

Although we know many schools do this already, my vision is that parents will expect all schools to offer some form of peer support programme as part of their whole school approach to mental health and emotional wellbeing.

We will work with schools and those with expertise – including in the voluntary sector to get them to a place where rather than parents being pleasantly surprised by schools that do offer a range of prevention, identification and early support activities, parents are asking “why not” from those that don’t.

I am really excited by this work and look forward to hearing from you with your views.

Thank you very much for your time.

Sam Gyimah – 2015 Speech on the School Business Professional

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Below is the text of the speech made by Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, at the Birmingham Metropole Hotel on 19 November 2015.

Thank you for that very kind introduction.

It’s a real pleasure for me to be here today.

Background and wider context

Across the public sector, we know the challenge over the next Parliament will be this: how can we deliver world-class public services whilst spending within our means?

And what this boils down to is simple: good financial management.

It is vital that our public services make the most effective and efficient use of the resources they are given, ultimately from the taxpayer. This is not just a ‘nice to have’ – it is core and fundamental to each and every school.

For schools to deliver the high standards we expect of them, they must start from a position of strong financial management.

School business managers

School business management has changed dramatically in recent years. The number of school business managers, bursars, finance directors and finance officers in our state-maintained schools has now almost tripled since 2005.

‘The age of the school business manager’ report published this year highlights that 90% of secondary schools have access to a school business manager, making them an integral part of the system. You are enabling schools to be more innovative and autonomous in freeing themselves from local authority control and being responsible for their own decisions and strategy. And I have great expectations that your role will become even more fundamental to schools across the country.

It is obvious to everyone in this room today but it is worth saying again: the role of the school business manager is far more than simply managing the finances of a school. The role encompasses far more because the distinction between the back office and the frontline is false.

You are all part of the frontline.

You are all directly enabling schools to drive up their performance which ultimately impacts outcomes for their pupils.

You are all playing a vital role in the strategic direction and governance of schools.

And, as a result, you are having a direct impact on the success of our education system as a whole.

Over the last Parliament, we had a laser focus on driving up educational standards.

We drove a culture of high expectations for all. And began our mission to spread educational excellence everywhere.

But, underpinning educational excellence is sound financial management.

Higher spending per pupil does not in and of itself equal better attainment. Educational systems around the world show this. It is good spending which drives this improvement in schools, and that is why your role is so important.

The professional standards framework we are launching today will formalise this valuable role further. Defining more clearly the characteristics of a good school business manager will help to further demonstrate the importance of the job and the expertise required, raising the status of your profession in the process.

‘The age of the school business manager’ report also provides encouraging reading on this point. Two years ago, fewer than half of respondents from senior leadership teams believed the school business manager role was valuable or essential. That figure now stands at well over 80%; a dramatic increase in such a short space of time.

Publishing these standards is, therefore, a fantastic opportunity to remind the sector of the crucial value you add.

But the discipline of school business management should not be restricted only to those who call themselves school business managers. Governors, headteachers, senior leadership and CEOs of multi-academy trusts all have an important part to play in the strategic direction of schools, and they will increasingly rely on you for your knowledge and expertise: in generating income, in asset management, in procurement, in HR, in health and safety; if I continued with this list my speech would have to be very long indeed!

Funding reform

We all want the same thing from our schools, to extend opportunity and deliver a world-class education to every young person across the country, so that everyone, no matter where they come from, has a fair shot to succeed. Subsequently, we all want schools to be funded fairly, rather than as a result of history.

Raising standards

Fairer funding will channel resources to the schools where they are needed most and can have the greatest impact.

Our aim as a government is simple – to achieve educational excellence, everywhere. To allow us to do this effectively, we need to make sure that schools are correctly funded to reflect the needs of their pupils.

Efficiency

I’m sure I am preaching to the choir when I also say that schools have a duty to spend the money they receive efficiently. We know that by continuously pushing to find the best deals and value for money in schools’ procurement spend, the money saved can be used to improve the frontline service that children benefit from every day.

Given the difficult financial climate we find ourselves in as a country, it is more important now than ever that schools are relentless in their drive to squeeze the best value out of every pound and penny they receive.

And this is one of the many areas where your work as school business managers is so vital. Now is the time for you to have a huge impact on schools. Ten years ago, schools were reliant on local authorities without the autonomy to act independently.

Now, though the academies programme, more and more schools are more autonomous than ever, giving frontline professionals the freedom to think innovatively and creatively about how to make the best use of funding for your pupils.

For some, this is the effective procurement and management of HR support or property maintenance – for others it is supporting the purchase of frontline intervention services to benefit those students receiving the pupil premium. Your role is strategic – supporting the whole school from back-office functions through to classroom support that directly drives outcomes for pupils.

Once again, ‘The age of the school business manager’ report highlights important evidence, that “appropriately skilled and effectively deployed” school business managers can provide the senior leadership team in schools with a 33% gain in efficiency.

In practice, this means they can put more of their time into the classroom, making even more of a difference to those children that need it most – highlighting once again the impact that you all can have on frontline services for pupils.

Collaboration

We also know that the most effective schools often work in collaboration with others. They share knowledge, skills, experience and resources in order to achieve their goals.

This can be done formally through multi-academy trusts, in federations, or as part of a teaching school network, or less formally, through clustering arrangements or collaborative procurement arrangements.

And we want school business managers to be at the forefront of this. To be leading the way and demonstrating how much you have gained, and will continue to gain in future, by working together.

Because it is through communities of professionals such as NASBM that we see a truly sustainable and effective way of spreading expertise, innovation and understanding across the sector. And it is through resolute advice from school business managers that school leaders will be convinced of the need to work with other schools to ensure that money is used as efficiently as possible to drive down costs.

Challenges

When I met Stephen [Morales, Executive Director of the National Association of School Business Management] earlier this year, we discussed some of the challenges that school business managers face in schools.

Foremost amongst them was not being listened to. How can you effect changes in schools if senior leaders do not listen to the messages you are giving them?

So I hope that governors, headteachers, and CEOs of multi-academy trusts across the country will take note now when I say – that this government supports you and this government will continue to support you, because we know how important your role is. Every day, your work underpins the great teaching in our schools and unlocks our goal of educational excellence, everywhere.

And, as I mentioned at the start of my speech, the professional standards framework we are launching today will only increase your standing and reputation, as experts in your field.

I am sure this association will go from strength to strength over the coming years. I thank you for the hard work you have done so far, and I eagerly await hearing about the successes I know you will make in the future.

Thank you so much for having me.