January 8th, 2018 marked Theresa May’s latest cabinet reshuffle, with arguably the biggest and most important news to come from it being Justine Greening’s departure from the government. Previously the Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, she turned down the position of Work and Pensions Secretary and opted to instead resign, saying that “social mobility matters more to me and our country than a ministerial career” in a tweet. Well recognised for building a better and more constructive relationship with teachers, it was a surprise decision that caught many off guard.
Damian Hinds, who was previously Minister of State for Employment and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury before, has controversially taken over the role of Secretary of State for Education. With his background of work before entering parliament being 18 years of ‘pubs, brewing and hotel industries’ according to gov.uk, it’s a choice that has divided opinions among the country.
In his early life, Mr Hinds was educated in a Catholic Grammar school in Greater Manchester followed by Trinity College in Oxford. He was elected as Conservative MP for East Hampshire in 2010 and did sit on the Education Select Committee between 2010 and 2012, although until his appointment last week this was his only role relating to the education sector.
Mr Hinds has vowed to start his role by building on the record of keeping GCSEs and A levels among some of the best qualifications in the world. In terms of what he’ll do with Apprenticeships and the Levy, it’s too early to tell at this stage. In 2017, Mr Hinds did say that Apprenticeships have a key role to play, and that the contribution they make to businesses and the skills that Apprentices are gaining from their positions is impressive, so this paints a positive light on what his future actions may be.
Whether or not Mr Hinds will do a positive job we don’t know, but it’s highly possible that his previous support and praise regarding Apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy could be just what’s needed. Working together with Anne Milton, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, this could be the backing that’s needed to help bring the number of Apprenticeship starters back up to a high.