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Education secretary focuses on ‘soft skills’ and technology in first speech

damian hinds

As Damian Hinds settles into the new role as Education Secretary he has spoken of the importance of instilling children with ‘soft skills’ from a young age in his first speech.

He focused on how schools needed to prepare people for a shifting jobs market and the importance of skills in communication and developing character. He also saw technology as a way of easing workload.






Mr Hinds “Technology must have a role in our sector, as it does in other sectors, to be able to ease workload, which is a matter I know is of great importance to teachers in this country, and quite rightly so. I share their drive to wish to work on that.”

He is aware there was ‘trepidation’ in schools about the use of technology, it would be used to assist, rather and never replace the role of teachers. Mr Hinds said. “Let me be very clear about one thing. In the research that the Department for Education in the UK has done about classroom teaching and how it works, it is absolutely clear that direct instruction is of paramount importance.

“Teaching education is a people business and it is the inspirational teacher at the front of the class that makes a child’s education.”


Soft skills

As the former minister for employment, he said he had “heard a lot from business” about the importance of “workplace” or “employability skills.”

“Sometimes, by the way, [these are] also called soft skills,” he said. “But I would suggest to you that there is nothing soft about these skills,” he said. The “hard reality” is that teaching children how to build “character resilience” and workplace skills is crucial for a thriving economy, he added.

Mr Hinds focused on how schools needed to prepare people for a shifting jobs market – and the importance of skills in communication and developing character.

He stressed the importance of the “ethos of a school, the expectations set for students” and activities such as “sport, public speaking and voluntary work”.

Mr Hinds said these would shape the “character, resilience and workplace skills that our young people take with them.”



Digital skills required in 9 out of 10 jobs

computer science


He went on to say that around nine in ten new jobs created will require digital skills to some extent, and there is now a generation of children who are “digital natives” that are growing up with technology such as the internet and smartphones.

He spoke of the importance of school embracing digital techniques in the classroom, adding that children should be taught how to create apps.

The new education secretary also pointed to the importance of helping adults to retrain for a changing jobs market.

“With our new computing curriculum we have moved beyond ability to use apps to ability to write apps,” he said, adding that millions of pounds is being pumped into improving the teaching of computer science.”

In last year’s budget, the Chancellor pledged £84m to train up another 8,000 GCSE teachers for computer science, a subject that’s still in its infacy having only been added to the national curriculum three years ago.


He said preparing pupils for the “fourth industrial revolution” – a term used to describe the technological advances made in the last decade – was crucial to their future success.

“The pace of change we face today is so much greater than it has been in the past.”

“We need to make sure that as our economies evolve, as our society evolves, we need to make sure that in the world of education we are absolutely on top of it.”

Core academic subjects such as maths, English and science were “at the heart” of such an education, Hinds concluded. But he also emphasised teaching pupils “digital skills” that would match a “modern economy.”



January 23, 2018