On 8 January 2018, Damian Hinds was appointed Secretary of State for Education replacing Justine Greening.
Following his appointment, he said: “As Education Secretary, I want all children to get a truly world-class education that not only inspires them to make the most of their lives but also gives them the opportunity to fulfil their ambitions, no matter where they live.
“By supporting good and outstanding schools to help others improve, and focusing on disadvantaged areas where our young people need extra help, we can continue to make a difference to people’s everyday lives and build a Britain that’s fit for the future.”
In a previous story, we drew attention to Justine Greening’s focus on tackling “cold spots” on the map regarding educational funding. Secretary Hinds has continued in a similar vein by committing to focus on disadvantaged areas across the country.
£45m earmarked for improvement
On 19 January 2018, part of a DfE publication highlighted that more than £45m will be awarded under the Multi-Academy Trust Development and Improvement Fund (MDIF). The MDIF offers successful MATs additional grants of £50,000 – £100,000 to drive improvement.
Guidance on how to apply can be found here. The North Regional School Commissioner (RSC) has identified the following as priority geographical areas: Allerdale, Carlisle, Eden, Middlesbrough, Northumberland and Scarborough.
Similarly, in continuing with the social mobility initiative, the next six Opportunity Area plans were published identifying: Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.
As an organisation that champions the North East, it is disappointing that the plan for the North Yorkshire Coast (published in October 2016) did not set a trend to move north. It is encouraging, however, that the new opportunity areas are adjacent to North Yorkshire and it should only be a matter of time until the North East has a plan of its own. Further information on how the opportunity areas are selected can be found here.