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Education in the media: Friday 19 January 2018

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Today’s Education in the media looks at today’s announcement on education standards by the new Education Secretary, Damian Hinds.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds

Today, Friday 19 January, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced in an editorial for The Times his plans to raise standards and deliver more good school places across the country.

The announcement has been covered by TES and Schools Week and has had regional coverage in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Ipswich Star and Stoke Sentinel.

Read the full editorial below.

By Education Secretary Damian Hinds

Whenever I visit a great school, I am struck most by two things. First, the high hopes and expectations they have for all their pupils, whatever their background. Second, that the success of the school is down, not just to syllabus or structures or systems, but, most of all, to people.

We need an ambitious culture in all our schools, for all our children. As a society, we simply shouldn’t tolerate low expectations for children who haven’t had the best start in life. Someone’s background doesn’t dictate their talents so it shouldn’t limit their dreams. That’s why today I’m announcing extra support for schools in the areas that need it most.

We have a rich, diverse system of education in this country, with so many excellent schools – academies and free schools, the maintained sector, comprehensives, grammar schools, faith schools and more. A good school is a good school and we need more of them, nowhere more so than in our most deprived areas.

That is why I am determined to build on the progress this government has already made on raising standards.

In government after 2010, we reversed the trend towards less stretching alternative qualifications and grade inflation year after year – through a rigorous new curriculum and a return to core academic subjects. In primary schools, we focused on the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy.

And thanks to our reforms we are seeing real improvements in schools. There are now 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, our pupils are among the world’s best readers and our GCSE and A-levels rank among the world’s best qualifications.

The job isn’t finished. We need to spread opportunity to the parts of the country where children are still let down by the depth and breadth of education available. Today I am allocating over £45 million for our best academies to improve underperforming schools. This will see multi-academy trusts with a strong track record in school improvement working with schools in some of the most disadvantaged areas. Ofsted data show that 450,000 children are studying in Good or Outstanding schools that were previously underperforming before they were turned around by academy sponsors.

Schools up and down the country will also receive a share of £25 million to help their pupils who need extra support with their core literacy and numeracy skills.

And I am setting out plans to work intensively with six areas of the country where too many young people have not been able to go as far as their abilities can take them: Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on Trent. Innovative work in these ‘opportunity areas’ will not just be about schools, but about helping raise expectations at every stage – from pre-school to career choices. The specific priorities in each area are set by education and business leaders from those communities.

There would be no great schools were it not for great teachers. We are fortunate, I believe, to have the best generation of teachers our country has ever seen. These are the people with whom we share the forming of our children’s futures. No job has more impact or is more important.

There are more teachers than ever in our schools today but we need to make sure this remains an attractive profession. I want to work, together with the profession, to crack the paramount issue of reducing workload. At the same time, we will invest in teachers’ learning and development and incentivise teachers to work in the most challenging schools.

While sometimes we think only about young entrants to the profession, I’m pleased that we’re also supporting established professionals who want to enter teaching through schemes like Now Teach. I know from my time as Employment Minister that people aren’t bound to a single career anymore. If someone wants to come into teaching, or come back to teaching, after making their mark in a different field then we’ll make it possible for them to do that.

We can’t just focus our efforts on school years. It’s important that children from all backgrounds make a strong start to their education by learning to read and write early so I will prioritise early years learning, working closely with early years professionals.

We also want our young people, once they have gained a strong grounding in core academic subjects, to be able to pursue high quality vocational routes, as well as academic ones, when they turn 16. That's why our high quality apprenticeships and, soon, our new T levels are so ‎important for delivering genuine opportunity and better paid jobs.

This government wants a Britain that works for everybody, not just the privileged few. We lay the foundations for that in our nurseries, our schools, our colleges, our universities. I will work to make sure that our education system offers opportunity to everyone, at every stage of their lives.

You can read the Education Secretary’s article on The Times here.

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