New Secretary of State for Education
2018 began with a British Government Cabinet reshuffle and the appointing of a new Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds. He is the former chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility and has worked hard on bringing social mobility to the fore since becoming an MP in 2010. In his initial address to the staff at the Department for Education he spoke about social mobility, life chances and the need for England’s education system to be “internationally competitive”. At Action Tutoring, we are pleased to see another Secretary of State for Education who is (at least verbally) prioritising the future of education for disadvantaged young people and we are looking forward to the positive changes he will introduce.
Justine Greening, the previous Secretary of State for Education resigned from the cabinet after turning down the position of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. She had held the position for the last eighteen months and will be stepping down to continue championing social mobility. During her time as Secretary of State for Education, her main areas of focus included Free Schools, Grammar Schools (pre June 2017 election), changing the school funding formula and championing social mobility. This final area of work, social mobility, appears to be what she is most passionate about; stating that it mattered to her more than her ministerial career. It appears she still shares our vision for a society in which the circumstances we are born into do not predict our chances of success in life: “I’ll continue to work outside of government to do everything I can to create a country for the first time that has equality of opportunity for young people wherever they are growing up.
Changes to Free School Meals
You may have seen the headlines at the end of last year concerning the changes to Free School Meals. The Government is proposing changes as part of the rollout of Universal Credit, the new benefit intended to simplify the welfare system and make it easier for people to move into work. Until now, all children from families on Universal Credit have been able to receive free school meals. But under the new proposals, only families earning less than £7,400 a year would be eligible. If a parent takes on additional work that pushes the family income only slightly over this threshold, they will be worse off financially as they will no longer be eligible for free school meals, worth around £400 a year per child. This risks putting off families from taking on extra work. By introducing an income threshold, the Government is undermining the fundamental principle of Universal Credit to ‘make work pay’. At Action Tutoring we’re hoping to see more support for struggling families and giving young people access to nutritious meals that help them concentrate in class.