'I trust you to get on with the job', Damian Hinds tells heads

Headteachers know “better than the Department for Education” how to improve their schools, and should be trusted to “get on with the job”, the education secretary said today.

Speaking at the annual conference of school leaders’ union NAHT this afternoon, Damian Hinds outlined his plans to save schools from the “spectre” of accountability.

It follows an announcement of sweeping reforms to the way schools are measured, including changes to how government intervention is triggered, and a scaling back of the role of schools commissioners.

Hinds referred to the Department’s new ‘Principles for a clear and simple accountability system’, also published today, and promised to work with heads on the details of his plan.

“I urge everyone to read the statement in full but in essence it comes down to this: we have many excellent schools in this country – schools with great leaders, great teachers. And I have a clear message to these schools and their leaders – we, I trust you to get on with the job,” he said.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I trust that you know better than us – better than me, better than the Department for Education – how to improve your schools. You don’t need government getting in your way.”

During his speech, Hinds accepted that the “spectre of our accountability system can loom large over schools”.

“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.

“As members of NAHT you are, of course, doing your own thinking about accountability, and I want to work closely on this with you. But I also wanted to come here today with something that I think itself is very important.”

He said heads need “better clarity” about how the accountability system will operate, “the consequences that can flow from it – and the roles of the actors within it”.