North West London


Hinds extends hand to teachers but faces questions on funding

School and College Leaders’ annual conference in Birmingham, Mr Hinds promised to cut back on unnecessary bureaucracy and to reduce workloads for teachers. He also pledged not to make any more changes to the testing and exam systems – although those already in the pipeline would continue. The most significant of these changes still working their way through the system have been the changes to GCSEs, with tougher content and a grading system that has switched from letters to numbers, with 9 now the highest grade. A raft of popular subjects, such as history, geography, physics and biology, have changed to the new format this summer. But the underlying intention of Mr Hinds’ message was that there would be no more unnecessary changes or extra pressure on teachers. He wanted teaching to be a more attractive profession and to discourage current staff from leaving. Teacher shortages are a big problem for many schools, and Mr Hinds promised to do what he could to remove any unnecessary barriers to recruiting and keeping staff. He said that teachers’ workload and unnecessary red tape and form-filling needed to be reduced as a key part of a recruitment and retention strategy. So far, it has been a balancing act from Mr Hinds as education secretary. He has pushed ahead with traditionalist policies already announced by the government, such as expanding existing grammar schools. And he has made no promises of extra money. career and wanted to encourage more young people to enter the

Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds visits the School of Education, university of Bristol

Damian Hinds became education secretary in the depths of winter, but the start of his time in office saw something of an early thaw in relations with the teaching profession. He arrived in his new department in January 2018 and was immediately faced with questions about some of the most contentious issues for schools: worries about funding, teacher shortages and whether he would pursue the expansion of grammar schools. But his approach so far has been to build bridges and to offer olive branches, rather than to generate provocative headlines. Whether this continues is likely to depend on what happens next with those thorny issues around funding, teachers’ pay and staffing levels. The education secretary seems to have focused on tackling some of the practical problems that have particularly annoyed teachers and that might have exacerbated staffing shortages. In his first major speech to the teaching profession, at the Association of



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