WATCH: Heads accept Damian Hinds' olive branch

Education secretary's pledges on accountability win applause from heads at NAHT conference

John Roberts

Heads applaud Hinds

Heads may be in the depths of a funding and recruitment crisis but Damian Hinds managed to win a warm reception from them this afternoon with a teacher-friendly speech.

The education secretary set out his plan to ease accountability pressures and tackle recruitment, and won four separate rounds of applause from delegates at the NAHT heads' union conference in Liverpool.

The loudest came as he told heads: “I trust you to get on with the job.”

The reception came in marked contrast to the jeering he received earlier this year over funding when he addressed the Association of School and College Leaders.

Today Mr Hinds set out his plans to replace floor targets and the coasting schools policy with one measure that triggers when a school receives support.

He also won applause when he confirmed that regional schools commissioner visits to schools, which he acknowledged added to workload and “can feel like inspection”, would stop. 

And Mr Hinds pledged to work with headteachers to understand the pressure facing schools on high-needs funding.

Tackling the 'fear of inspection'

“The spectre of our accountability system can loom large over schools,” he said.

“Fear of inspection. Fear of a single set of bad results. Fear of being forcibly turned into an academy - all of this can create stress and anxiety, and that can percolate through the staff. Ladies and Gentlemen, we can do better than this.”

In a question-and-answer session with heads after his speech, Mr Hinds was asked only one question on funding and he pledged to work with the NAHT to understand the pressures around high-needs funding ahead of this year’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

He also confirmed plans to ensure that only schools that fail Ofsted inspections will face forced academy conversion.

Mr Hinds said: “I want to move to a system where, when it comes to educational underperformance, we only enforce academy conversion, leadership change or changing the trust a school is part of when there has been an Ofsted 'inadequate' judgement.

“So that means we will not be forcibly turning schools into academies unless there is that judgement.”


Watch Mr Hinds speech here:


Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

Latest stories

Geoff Barton

Omicron, nativities and the DfE: Another fine mess

Schools are being told what to do by those with no concept of the reality of running a school - and it's only making an already tough situation a lot harder, explains Geoff Barton
Geoff Barton 3 Dec 2021
New headteachers - here are 9 things you need to know

Headteacher wellbeing and sources of 'streth'

Former headteacher Chris McDermott set out to find out the true causes of leader stress and support – and in doing so coined a whole new term, as he explains here
Chris McDermott 2 Dec 2021
Transdisciplinary learning: how to embed it in your school

Why you need a transdisciplinary curriculum

At the Aspirations Academies, six hours a week are dedicated to applied transdisciplinary learning - but how does it work? And should you apply something similar at your school?
Steve Kenning 2 Dec 2021