Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP shares key themes from his ASCL Annual Conference 2019 address

Working in a school or college is a life-changing experience and offers something that few other professions can offer: the chance to help shape a young person’s future.

As Education Secretary, the best part of my job is getting out to visit as many schools and colleges as possible. You couldn’t do my job without talking to headteachers and I have heard from hundreds of heads about their ambitions for their students and the challenges they face.

Tackling workload

Workload is one of the biggest challenges in attracting and retaining talented and committed teachers and, when I spoke at ASCL’s annual conference last year, I promised to take an unflinching look at it. We are continuing our programme of work to tackle this including recently publishing the Making Data Work report and acting on all of the recommendations to tackle excessive data burdens in schools. We also launched our workload reduction toolkit which was updated on the first day of the 2019 ASCL conference.

But to make lasting progress on workload, we also need to simplify the accountability system to reduce the pressure on school leaders. As part of this we intend to make ‘requires improvement’ the sole trigger for an offer of support – replacing floor and coasting standards. Central to this is Ofsted’s new framework and we are aligned with them on the need to support and recognise leaders who manage workload well. I want to do more to look at school leader workload in particular, working with all of you to identify what we can do to reduce the pressures you face on a daily basis.

Early careers

Workload is just one of the areas we are committed to tackling. Earlier this year, I set out the department’s strategy for making sure teaching continues to be attractive, rewarding and sustainable. At the heart of the strategy is the Early Career Framework (ECF), which underpins an entitlement to a funded, two-year support package for all new teachers, backed up with substantial extra investment – when fully rolled out we expect to be spending at least an extra £130 million every year on its delivery.

The ECF will create a golden thread throughout all levels of professional development, including new subject-specialist qualifications for those who want to carry on developing their knowledge and career, without pursuing a leadership route. We want to enable more teachers at every stage of their career to benefit from a clear, coherent professional pathway.

Flexible working and wellbeing

We’re also increasing the tools and support available for schools to offer flexible working and making it a reality for more teachers with a new job-share matching service to help them find others they can pair up with.

Alongside this, I want to make it easier for you to prioritise your own wellbeing as well as that of your staff so we have announced a plan to set up an expert advisory group on wellbeing. The group, which will include Mind, alongside ASCL and other representatives of the school and college sector, will work with us to look at what government, academy trusts, FE providers and local authorities can do to promote wellbeing, building on the excellent work already being done by schools and colleges.

We have made good progress in the last year, but make no mistake - I see these efforts as a work in progress and something we must continue to shape together. I know that each one of you will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of your staff and students. In return, you can expect me to back your right to be the ones making the decisions in schools.

Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP
Secretary of State for Education
Posted: 05/04/2019 11:52:32