Visits to English Schools by the Secretary of State

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Which schools has Damian Hinds visited in his role as Secretary of State for Education?

Freedom of Information

On 7th November 2018, I made a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Education (DfE). I was keen to understand if all schools were being given a fair hearing.

My letter said:

“Dear Department for Education, Please advise of the number of visits to early years, primary, secondary state schools and colleges by Damian Hinds since he became Secretary of State for Education on 8th January 2018. I would like this data broken down by:

  1. Ofsted grading
  2. Type of school (including free school, grammar, studio etc)
  3. Region
  4. Date of visit
  5. Name of school

It would be helpful if you could advise of the start (08.01.18) and end points of the data trawl (perhaps, 21 days from the date of this request = 28.11.18) Yours faithfully, Ross McGill.”

The Department for Education responded …

On Monday 3rd December 2018, the DfE responded with the following information which I have tried to analyse for you.

“The data shows the number of school visits carried out by Damian Hinds MP to early years, primary, secondary state schools and colleges since his appointment as Secretary of State for Education on 8 January 2018, until 28 November 2018. This is equivalent to 46 weeks and 2 days or 10 months and 20 days.”

Initial analysis

Since January 2018, Damian Hinds has visited 62 schools throughout the 324 days.

If we remove the 6-week summer holiday, two weeks at Easter and February and October half term, this equates to 36 weeks; 62 visits from a possible 254 days. If we remove the weekends (72 days) from the possible ‘school weeks’ the Secretary of State for Education could visit a school, this leaves 62 schools out of a possible 182 days.

An average of 2.9 schools per school week. Not bad going; let’s break down the demographics of his visits.

Ofsted rating at the time of visit

  • Number of Outstanding schools visited = 19 schools
  • Number of Good schools visited = 17 schools
  • Number of Requires Improvement schools visited = 0 schools
  • Number of Inadequate schools visited = 1 school
  • Number of schools with no Ofsted rating visited = 25 schools

If you work in a ‘requires improvement’, an ‘inadequate’ school, you are less likely to see education royalty. It is clear that Hinds’ preference is to visit ‘new’ schools (e.g. startup; conversion; new URN with no Ofsted rating) and 16-plus institutions.

Types of school

  • Number of early years/nursery schools visited = 5 schools
  • Number of primary community schools visited = 5 schools
  • Number of primary community special schools visited = 1 school
  • Number of primary free schools visited = 2 schools
  • Number of primary academy schools visited = 7 schools
  • Number of primary voluntary aided schools visited = 2 schools
  • Number of secondary academy schools visited = 11 schools
  • Number of secondary community schools visited = 2 schools
  • Number of free school alternative provisions visited = 1 school
  • Number of all-through community special schools visited = 1 school
  • Number of free school 16-19 visited = 1 school
  • Number of 16 plus/further education colleges visited = 12 schools

I have not analysed the regional areas. If you are interested in the data, you can download a copy.

It is clear that the Secretary of State will visit more academy and free schools than community and voluntary aided schools. Noteworthy: from all the data, it pleases me to read that Kensington Aldridge Academy received a visit in May 2018. If only Hinds would visit more community schools and those working with an Ofsted noose around their necks – it may just lift the morale for some teachers working in the profession.


In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account in which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in Britain' in The Sunday Times as one of the most influential in the field of education - he remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing online as @TeacherToolkit, he rebuilt this website (c2008) into what you are now reading, as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the number one spot at the UK Blog Awards (2018). Today, he is currently a PGCE tutor and is researching 'social media and its influence on education policy' for his EdD at Cambridge University. In 1993, he started teaching and is an experienced school leader working in some of the toughest schools in London. He is also a former Teaching Awards winner for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School, London' (2004) and has written several books on teaching (2013-2018). Read more...

One thought on “Visits to English Schools by the Secretary of State

  • 4th December 2018 at 8:48 am

    Great research, thank you. And much as suspected, the preponderance of schools ‘visited’ are academies and deemed ‘successful’. But here’s the thing: how were these visits elicited (invitation from Headteacher or request from local MPs, or in response to events ( good or bad) reported by the media)? And, even more importantly, what was the ministers ‘research brief’ ( what did he go in wanting to see and how did he find things out) and what was he shown? In essence, was there any rationale, rhyme or reason to these visits or was it the usual rush job and photo-op? And given this level of likely inconsistent opacity, how did any of this subsequently affect government education policy?


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