Damian Hinds becomes new Secretary of State for Education

In a week of shake-ups and break-ups which saw Justine Greening resign from her ministerial position of Education Secretary, a position she held for only 546 days, SCHOOLS NorthEast takes a look at what we know about her successor, Damian Hinds, so far…

Political Career

Secretary of State for Education – Jan 2018 –

Minister of State (DWP) July 2016 – Jan 2018

Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury) May 2015 – Jul 2016

Assistant Whip (HM Treasury) Jul 2014 – Mar 2015

Education Select Committee Jul 2010 – Nov 2012

Member of Parliament for East Hampshire May 2010 –

Social Mobility

  • The new Secretary of State said little of note on education policy during the tenure of his predecessor. However, what we can glean from his previous comments and writings shows he has his own views on social mobility.
  • In 2014 he wrote: “Our children’s prospects are significantly more predictable from their parents’ social class than in most competitor nations. Today’s forty somethings have been less socially mobile than those born a decade earlier. The gap between the privately educated elite and the rest yawns pretty much as wide as ever…It is not that parents’ social class dictates their children’s social class. Rather, parents’ social class has a massive effect on their children’s educational attainment and it is that which predicts their eventual place in society. The link is an indirect one, and it can be broken through what is achieved at school and if/where you go to university.” Whether he will share Justine Greening’s vision of a social mobility agenda, an action plan for which was launched last month, remains to be seen.

Structures

  • It has been suggested that Mr Hinds was brought in to push the Prime Minister’s grammar schools agenda. While he was silent during the grammar schools debate in 2016, he was educated in a Catholic grammar school and has previously written: “There is no appetite in the country for a wholesale return to academic selection at 11, for good reasons, but why not at least one unashamedly academically elite state school have in each county or major conurbation?”
  • He supported the free schools initiative, suggesting they offer greater parental choice, but has been publicly neutral about academisation.
  • He has also taken an interest in Catholic schools, calling on the Government to scrap the rule requiring new faith schools to admit at least 50 per cent of their pupils from other faiths. The Government is very keen for more Roman Catholic schools to open but the Church has been reluctant to do so while the cap remains in place, as turning away Catholic pupils would violate Canon Law. However, it seems highly unlikely the Conservatives’ allies in the Democratic Unionist Party would ever support this move, making the Parliamentary arithmetic difficult.

Character and culture

  • Hinds has made it clear that he greatly values the importance of character development, and has previously praised the importance of extracurricular activities. Nicky Morgan’s “Character Development Fund” was abandoned by Justine Greening in favour of a new ‘Life Skills Programme’ in the twelve opportunity areas- could we see a return to something like it under Hinds?
  • He has supported the development of British values in young people but has expressed concerns about the danger of official definitions of what they are.
  • He has also advocated a need to focus on technological change, globalisation and the development of ‘soft skills’ and ‘workplace skills’. This would appear to put him at odds with Schools Minister Nick Gibb, who continues to favour former Education Secretary Michael Gove’s emphasis on strong disciplinary knowledge and rigour.

 

Following the departure of Robert Goodwill MP and Jo Johnson MP, the Department for Education now stands as follows:

Secretary of State for Education – The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP

Minister of State for School Standards – The Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP

Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills – The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP

Minister for Higher Education – Sam Gyimah MP

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Nadhim Zahawi MP

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System – Lord Agnew

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