Following the New Year’s reshuffle, and Justine Greening’s resignation, we have a new Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP.
An appointment from the Department for Work and Pensions, Damian has written in the past on Social Mobility, which has been a key driver of Theresa May’s policy agenda. His writing has previously focused on the importance of early years foundation stage, entitlement to free childcare and the EBacc as drivers of pupil excellence and social mobility. He has spoken in debates of a government ‘committed to encouraging young people to be in education, training or employment and giving them the chance to progress and achieve, stating that this ‘is critical if we are to improve productivity, promote intergenerational fairness, and tackle poverty and disadvantage.’ Damian Hinds attended St Ambrose College, a Catholic boy’s grammar school. Whether or not this will influence his position on both grammar schools and policies which affect faith schools, will remain to be seen. He is also a strong supporter of the free schools programme.
We hope his experience in the DWP can bring insight of the employment issues facing learners, such as the potential skills shortages we are facing, to the forefront of education policy.
Alongside Hinds’ appointment is the removal of Children and Families Minister, Robert Goodwill. Among his roles was the oversight of the Opportunity Areas – a key policy of Greening’s. Does this mean we will have a new focus within the department? We shall see over the next few months.
Nadhim Zawahi has also been shuffled into the Department for Education as Children’s Minister. As David Cameron’s former apprenticeship advisor, he could bring these connections and knowledge to hopefully help remedy the ongoing issues with the non-levy apprenticeship tendering process.
We look forward to working with the new Education Secretary. Once he has settled into his brief, we hope he will champion the role that technical education can have in transforming learner opportunities and getting them into jobs or further training. There’s a particular pressing need to progress with this, as the first new ‘T-level’ qualifications will be put out to tender in the spring.