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What do we know about the new education secretary Damian Hinds?

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Damian Hinds becomes the new Education Secretary after Justine Greening resigns in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle.

 

Mr Hinds, born in in London, in 1969, went to a Catholic grammar school in Altrincham, Manchester. He spent 18 years working in pubs, brewing and hotel industries before entering the world of politics.

It was at the University of Oxford he studied politics, philosophy and economics and where he was president of the Oxford Union.

He’s been the MP for East Hampshire since 2010 and was previously the minister for Department for Work and Pensions, prior to that he was exchequer to the Treasury.

 

 

He sat on the parliamentary education committee between 2010 and 2012 and chaired the all-part parliamentary group for social mobility – a key issue for both the prime minister, and his predecessor, Justine Greening.

In 2014 he called for the government to remove the cap that prevented the Catholic Church from opening new schools. He will now have to tackle the delayed decision on whether to change the rules to make it easier for faith groups to open free schools, pledged in the Conservatives’ election manifesto.

Mr Hinds wrote on Twitter that he was “looking forward to working with the great teachers and lecturers in our schools, colleges and universities giving people the opportunities to make the most of their lives.”

The incoming education secretary will face pressures over school funding and decisions about university tuition fees. He’ll also need to make a decision on the expansion of grammar schools, something that was dropped in the wake of the election and omitted from the Queen’s speech.

Jules White, a West Sussex head teacher who co-ordinated letters sent to 2.5 million parents over school funding concerns, says too often schools policy has been sidetracked by “dubious ideological pursuits” or “tinkering around the edges”.

Mr White said Mr Hinds would have to “urgently address” core problems over school funding and teacher shortages.

Hinds has been welcomed to the job by Paul Whiteman, from the headteachers’ union NAHT, who called for stability at a time of immense change in education.

“For the past 18 months the DfE has been building a strong relationship with the profession. Free from needless ‘big ticket’ policy announcements significant progress has been made lately on areas like primary assessment. We have also seen fresh ambitions to improve careers advice and guidance, sex and relationships education and social mobility.

“Children need stability and their teachers can only provide that if the backdrop of education policy provides continuity for the profession.”

“We look forward to developing the profession’s relationship with Mr Hinds, building on the platform created by Justine Greening, working collaboratively with the profession and treating school staff with respect.”

Whiteman said new education secretaries “often feel that new announcements are obligatory.” “In 2018, where budgets are at breaking point and recruitment is still a massive challenge, education does not need more upheaval.”

Education is the third largest area of government spending, and polling suggests the public now see it as the third biggest concern facing Britain.

 

January 9, 2018