MIL-OSI UK: Press release: Ofsted launches a consultation on proposals for changes to the education inspection framework

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

Summary:

  • revised framework to focus inspection on what children learn through the curriculum, rather than over-reliance on performance data
  • proposals will call time on the culture of ‘teaching to the test’ and off-rolling
  • new separate behaviour judgement to give parents reassurance that behaviour is good
  • most evidence-based, research-informed and tested framework in Ofsted’s 26-year history

The new framework proposes a shift that will rebalance inspection to make sure that young people are being taught the best of what has been thought and said. Instead of taking exam results and test data at face value, Ofsted will look at how a nursery, school, college or other provider’s results have been achieved – whether they are the result of broad and rich learning, or gaming and cramming.

Ofsted’s research has found that some children are having their teaching narrowed in schools in order to boost performance table points:

  • in many primary schools, rather than reading a wide range of books, some children are instead spending their time repeating reading comprehension tests
  • in certain secondary schools pupils are being forced to pick exam subjects a year or more early, meaning many lose out on the arts, languages and music
  • at GCSE level, pupils are being pushed away from studying EBacc subjects such as history, geography, French and German, and towards qualifications deemed to be ‘easier’

Similar practices exist in the further education and skills sector, such as:

  • some colleges offering ‘popular’ courses designed to attract maximum student numbers, rather than those which will lead to a job
  • useful maths and English not being taught to support students’ vocational training
  • apprenticeship providers focusing on quantity rather than quality, meaning young people don’t get the training they need

And in early years, instead of feeling able to spend time reading to children, or playing with them, nursery staff feel pressured into completing endless documentation to demonstrate each stage of a child’s development.

The new framework will seek to tackle these practices, looking instead at every stage of education from nursery to college, whether young people are being offered a rich curriculum which is taught well and leads to them achieving their all.

The key proposals for consultation include:

  • a new ‘quality of education’ judgement, with the curriculum at its heart
  • looking at outcomes in context and whether they are the result of a coherently planned curriculum, delivered well
  • no longer using schools’ internal performance data as inspection evidence, to ensure inspection does not create unnecessary work for teachers
  • separate judgements about learners’ ‘personal development’ and ‘behaviour and attitudes’
  • extending on-site time for short inspections of good schools to 2 days, to ensure inspectors have sufficient opportunity to gather evidence that a school remains good

The ‘leadership and management’ judgement will remain, and will include looking at how leaders develop teachers and staff, while taking their workload and wellbeing into account. Inspectors will continue to make an overall effectiveness judgement about a provider. All judgements will still be awarded under the current 4-point grading scale. Parents will still get the information they value and understand.

The new framework builds on our existing expertise but marks a change in emphasis towards the substance of education. The proposed changes to the framework will make it easier to recognise and reward good work done by schools in areas of high disadvantage, by tackling the perverse incentives that leave them feeling they have to narrow the curriculum. Shifting the emphasis away from performance data will empower schools to always put the child first and actively discourage negative practices such as off-rolling.

Ofsted has also responded to the demand for parents to give better information about how well behaviour is managed in a school. A new separate behaviour judgement will assess whether schools are creating a calm, well-managed environment free from bullying. Alongside that, proposals for a ‘personal development judgement’ will recognise the work schools and colleges do to build young people’s resilience and confidence in later life – through work such as cadet forces, National Citizenship Service, sports, drama or debating teams.

Launching the consultation in a speech to the Sixth Form Colleges Association, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, will say:

The new quality of education judgement will look at how providers are deciding what to teach and why, how well they are doing it and whether it is leading to strong outcomes for young people. This will reward those who are ambitious and make sure that young people accumulate rich, well-connected knowledge and develop strong skills using this knowledge.

This is all about raising true standards. Nothing is more pernicious to these than a culture of curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test.

She will continue:

Two words sum up my ambition for the framework: substance and integrity.

The substance that has all children and young people exposed to the best that has been thought and said, achieve highly and set up to succeed.

And the integrity that makes sure every child and young person is treated as an individual with potential to be unlocked, and staff as experts in their subject or field, not just as data gatherers and process managers. And above all that you are rewarded for doing the right thing.

Ofsted is committed to making sure that any changes to the inspection framework and approach are fair, reliable and valid.

Today’s proposals are the result of well over a year of research, developmental work and discussions with a wide range of stakeholders. Since June 2017, Ofsted has held over 200 engagement events attended by more than 16,000 people. The feedback from these events has helped shape the new framework and approach. More stakeholder events are planned during the course of the consultation. The draft framework criteria have also been tested in a series of pilot inspections, which will continue throughout the spring term.

The draft framework is accompanied by a research commentary which underpins the evidence base for each of its aspects. As a result, Ofsted is confident that this will be the most evidence-based, researched and transparent framework in our history.

The consultation is open until 4 April 2019. Views are sought on the overall changes to the framework as well as on how they will work in practice for the individual education remits. All responses received will be considered carefully, and will help Ofsted to refine and improve the proposed approach before the final framework and inspection handbooks are published in summer 2019.

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MIL-OSI UK: Speech: PM statement to the House of Commons: 15 January 2019

Source: UK Government

Mr Speaker, the House has spoken and the Government will listen.
It is clear that the House does not support this deal. But tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support. Nothing about how – or even if – it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum Parliament decided to hold.
People, particularly EU citizens who have made their home here and UK citizens living in the EU, deserve clarity on these questions as soon as possible. Those whose jobs rely on our trade with the EU need that clarity. So with your permission Mr Speaker I would like to set out briefly how the Government intends to proceed.
First, we need to confirm whether this Government still enjoys the confidence of the House. I believe that it does, but given the scale and importance of tonight’s vote it is right that others have the chance to test that question if they wish to do so. I can therefore confirm that if the Official Opposition table a confidence motion this evening in the form required by the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the Government will make time to debate that motion tomorrow. And if, as happened before Christmas, the Official Opposition decline to do so, we will – on this occasion – consider making time tomorrow to debate any motion in the form required from the other opposition parties, should they put one forward.
Second, if the House confirms its confidence in this Government I will then hold meetings with my colleagues, our Confidence & Supply partner the DUP and senior Parliamentarians from across the House to identify what would be required to secure the backing of the House. The Government will approach these meetings in a constructive spirit, but given the urgent need to make progress, we must focus on ideas that are genuinely negotiable and have sufficient support in this House. Third, if these meetings yield such ideas, the Government will then explore them with the European Union.
Mr Speaker I want to end by offering two reassurances.
The first is to those who fear that the Government’s strategy is to run down the clock to 29th March. That is not our strategy. I have always believed that the best way forward is to leave in an orderly way with a good deal and have devoted much of the last two years negotiating such a deal. As you confirmed Mr Speaker, the amendment to the business motion tabled last week by my Right Honourable and Learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield is not legally binding, but the Government respects the will of the House. We will therefore make a statement about the way forward and table an amendable motion by Monday.
The second reassurance is to the British people, who voted to leave the European Union in the referendum two and a half years ago. I became Prime Minister immediately after that referendum. I believe it is my duty to deliver on their instruction and I intend to do so.
Mr Speaker every day that passes without this issue being resolved means more uncertainty, more bitterness and more rancour. The Government has heard what the House has said tonight, but I ask Members on all sides of the House to listen to the British people, who want this issue settled, and to work with the Government to do just that.

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MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Launch of the new Toyota Corolla

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

Hiroki Nakajima, Ambassador, ladies and gentlemen, it is a huge honour and a pleasure to be here to celebrate this success. Dr van Zyl referred to the decision to invest in TNGA. That was a thrilling moment to have that vote of confidence in the future, building on the success of over a quarter of a century of achievements here in Derbyshire.

But it is a particular pleasure to be able to meet team members on the line to see it now going into production and making cars that will be sold not just in this country but around the world. And it is fitting that you have invited what I like to think of as team Toyota here from the plant, from the local community and right across the country and we are all delighted at your success and are determined to make sure it can power forward in the future.

Now the Corolla of course is a historic car. This is a historic moment for a historic car. When it was launched in 1966, it was launched with these words, that it was “The most wanted car by the market – presented to the world by bringing together the essence of Toyota’s technology”. And what we see today through this investment is that those values and those traditions continue.

Right from the outset, it was the Corolla that brought sports car technology to the school run if I can put it that way. It was the first family car with front brake discs. It was the first Japanese car with a floor-mounted gear lever. And the first Japanese car with a 4-speed fully-synchronised manual transmission. Britons, when it was first launched, could own a piece of the future, and this is as true now as it was then.

The Corolla that we are celebrating today is a fitting heir to this tradition of continuing innovation. And as we move into the era of clean technology, the facts that the hybrid technology pioneered by Toyota is being produced here in Derbyshire, and of course in Deeside in North Wales, is a tremendous source of pride to all of us in the United Kingdom.

2,600 people work here, members of Toyota work force here onsite and 600 more in Deeside. But of course, we know that beyond the factory gates so many partners are part of this success and I know that many of them are represented here today. I just wanted to refer to and pay tribute to those who may not have the Toyota brand but are very much part of that success. Adient who supply seats for the vehicles just down the road in Burton-Upon-Trent. I think Garry Linnett is here from Aisin who produce panoramic car roofs. This fantastic innovation that’s going to be appreciated for those endless summer days that we look forward to in the UK.

Kevin Schofield, I think is here from Futaba who produces the weld and sub-assembly parts, and seeing all of these parts come in at short notice, and seeing them so brilliantly deployed in these vehicles, is a real demonstration of the power of the model that Toyota has pioneered and has taught much of the rest of British manufacturing.

So, this has always been a successful partnership. We have drawn and learnt much from Toyota’s presence here. We think this has been a successful joint-collaboration over the years and we are thrilled that it is moving to the next stage.

Dr van Zyl reflected the importance of having those conditions that have been central to success. Having a skilled, dedicated and motivated workforce that we have in abundance here and you always will. But also, to make sure we recognise the importance of public policy that is supportive and backs investments like this. We should be able to continue to trade without introducing any of those frictions that would disrupt what is a perfect process that has been optimised here.

I hear that very strongly. Over the years, the evidence that has been presented by Toyota and other firms within the advanced manufacturing sector in the UK has been instrumental in determining the kind of relationship that we want.

In these days ahead, I will continue to be a strong advocate for that kind of relationship which has been so crucial to our success.

Toyota has done the country a service, in bringing to life the benefits and the actuality of just-in-time production of advanced manufacturing and the benefits that there are to all. We are very grateful for that and we give this commitment; we will always back you, we will always celebrate your success, and we will always listen to you, and to act on what you need to prosper in the future.

Today’s a fantastic day of celebration. It is a huge honour to have been asked to be part of it. Thank you very much indeed for inviting me. I’d like to hand over to the ambassador.

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MIL-OSI UK: expert reaction to research on keeping warming below 1.5C

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

Reactions to research published in Nature Communications that claims keeping global temperature increases below 1.5°C remains possible with immediate emission reduction across all sectors.

Dr Phillip Williamson, Honorary Reader at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said:

The analysis by Christopher Smith and his colleagues is welcome.  Climate change policy does need some good news, and their message is that we’re not (quite) doomed yet.  If from now on, the greenhouse gas-emitting power plants, factories, cars, ships and planes are replaced by non-polluting alternatives as they reach the end of their lifetimes, then the threshold of 1.5C warming might not be crossed. 

“Yet that is a very big ‘if’.  The authors are clear in their paper that ‘we do not seek to assess the practical feasibility of this transition’; they also assume that land-use related emissions (currently nearly a fifth of the total) magically drop to zero in 2020, and there are no significant amplifying climate feedbacks, such as increased forest fires or melting permafrost.  According to Smith’s paper, there is then a 2 to 1 probability of keeping warming below 1.5C.  

“But the optimism should not be overstated.  The paper’s title is potentially misleading in that regard: whilst current infrastructure may not take us over the top, there is unfortunately insufficient evidence to say that it definitely will not happen.  Therefore this analysis is not an excuse for inaction, but further incentive to make the necessary changes, with the requirement for nothing new that burns coal, oil or gas.”

Prof Mark Maslin, Professor of Climatology at UCL, said:

Smith and colleagues have produced a detail study of potential global warming based on when and how we reduced global greenhouse emissions.  This study provides optimism for the future if we act now.  The research shows we can keep global warming to below 1.5˚C even with our current fossil fuel infrastructure, if we ensure it is replaced with renewable sources at the end of its life time and we aggressively cut global emissions starting this year.   Each year we fail to cut global emissions will make it more and more unlikely that we can keep global warming below 1.5˚C. If emission reductions do not start until 2030 then it is all but impossible to keep below the 1.5˚C threshold recently recommended by the IPCC.”

Prof Dave Reay, Chair in Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“An insightful and important look at the chances of holding average global temperature increase to 1.5C, and how delays in weaning our world off fossil fuels could well scupper these chances.

“Whether it’s drilling a new gas well, keeping an old coal power station open, or even buying a diesel car, the choices we make today will largely determine the climate pathways of tomorrow. There’s plenty to give hope here – retiring all high-carbon infrastructure as it reaches the end of its planned life can avoid this ‘carbon lock-in’ and give us a better-than-evens shot at 1.5C.

“The risks of climate curve balls, like warming-induced faltering of the land and ocean carbon sinks or huge belches of Arctic methane, are still out there, but the message of this new study is loud and clear: act now or see the last chance for a safer climate future ebb away.”

Current fossil fuel infrastructure does not yet commit us to 1.5 °C warming’ by Christopher J. Smith et al. was published in Nature Communications at 4pm UK TIME on Tuesday 15 January 2018.

Declared interests

Dr Williamson is an Honorary Reader at the University of East Anglia, employed by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC, part of UKRI).  He is the Science Coordinator of the NERC-led Greenhouse Gas Removal programme.

Prof Maslin: I have no interests or associations with this study or its finding

Prof Reay: No interest declared.

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MIL-OSI UK: expert reaction to study looking at blood stem cell transplantation as a MS treatment

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

Research published in JAMA demonstrates that in patients with MS, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT),when compared with disease-modifying therapy (DMT), resulted in a longer time to diseases progression.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, MS Society Director of Research, said:

“HSCT is an exciting development in MS treatment and we’ve seen incredible results for some people, but it’s also high-risk and won’t be right for everyone. We’re encouraged by the results of this study, but need to know how HSCT compares to the most effective disease modifying treatments for MS.

“As access to HSCT in the UK improves, our priority is making sure everyone who could benefit is able to access it. For some it has been life changing, and having that opportunity shouldn’t depend on your postcode.”

Professor Robin Franklin, Professor of Stem Cell Medicine, Wellcome – MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, said:  

“These results look very promising and will strengthen the case for blood stem cell therapies in MS. However, it is important to emphasise that this is an approach where stem cells that form the blood target the immune system causing damage and is not a means of regenerating the damage that occurs in MS, which will require treatments using brain stem cells in some capacity.”

Professor Gavin Giovannoni, Professor of Neurology, Queen Mary University of London, said:

“This study doesn’t really tell us anything new regarding the promise of HSCT as a treatment for MS as it is an open-label study, where the researchers and participants know which treatment is being administered, which can bias the results.

“We also have concerns, as the stem cell transplants were compared to standard disease-modifying therapies that included some low and moderate efficacy treatments. Some high-efficacy treatments which are currently available were not included in this study, in particular alemtuzumab, which works in a similar way to stem cell transplantation.

“Overall the data supports haemopoetic stem cell transplantation being a very high-efficacy treatment, but it now needs to be compared to other high-efficacy treatments, including alemtuzumab, ocrelizumab and natalizumab, in a blinded randomised trial.”

‘Effect of nonmyeloablative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation vs continued disease-modifying therapy on disease progression in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: A randomized clinical trial’ by Bert et al. was published in JAMA at 16:00 UK time on Tuesday 15th January 2019.

All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink: http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/tag/stem-cells/

Declared interests

None received. 

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MIL-OSI UK: Press release: Ashford dairy farmer prosecuted for polluting stream with slurry

Source: UK Government

A dairy farmer based near Ashford, Kent, has been ordered to pay £1,500 plus £5,516 in victim charges and costs by Maidstone Magistrates’ Court, after being found guilty of discharging slurry into a local watercourse.
The Environment Agency brought the charges against Mr Peter Joules of Bircholt Farm, Bradbourne, Ashford, Kent, after its officers discovered a spill of neat slurry from an overflowing slurry lagoon that reached the stream. The officers then found that there had been a longer spill of dilute slurry and dirty water from livestock gathering areas that was also polluting the watercourse, via an underground pipe.
In March 2017, Environment Agency officers were inspecting a tributary of the Aylesford Brook when they discovered slurry running into the stream, and traced it back to the slurry lagoon at Bircholt Farm. They then discovered a black pipe discharging a brown liquid around 200 metres further upstream. The pipe was part of farmyard drainage system that discharged rainwater and yard washings. The pipe allowed diluted slurry, chopped straw, animal feed and soil sediment to enter the stream.
Environment Agency officers took samples from the stream and found the water quality was heavily impacted by the two discharges. The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) sets limits for what is considered ‘good’ water quality. The WFD levels for biological oxygen demand are 4.0mg/l, yet those found in the sample were 463mg/l; 115 times the limit. For orthophosphate, the level is 0.12mg/l, but the sample returned 15.2 mg/l; 126 times above the limit.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said:

Good farm management is vital to avoid incidents like this that damage the local aquatic environment and harm wildlife.
We take these incidents very seriously and do everything within our powers to safeguard the environment and people that may be affected. Mr Joules’ farm didn’t have the infrastructure to deal with the slurry it produces, which caused a serious pollution incident. In these circumstances we do not hesitate to prosecute.

Ends
Notes to Editors
Mr Peter Joules of Bircholt Farm was charged under: Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 Section 38(1) It is an offence for a person to (a) contravene regulation 12(1) or (b) knowingly cause or knowingly permit the contravention of regulation 12(1)(a) Section 12(1) A person must not, except under to the extent authorised by an environment permit, (a) operate a regulated facility, (b) cause or knowingly permit a water discharge activity or groundwater activity.
Mr Joules received a £600 fine for the black pipe and £900 fine for the overflowing slurry lagoon.
For more information contact the Communications Team on 0800 141 2743
####www.gov.uk/environment-agency ####Follow us on Twitter @EnvAgencySE

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MIL-OSI UK: UK Military personnel deployed in West Africa meet French President Emmanuel MacronFRENCH President Emmanuel Macron has recently met UK military personnel deployed in West Africa in support of the French counter-insurgency operations there.  15 Jan 2019

Source: United Kingdom – Royal Air Force

French President Emmanuel Macron has recently met UK military personnel deployed in West Africa in support of the French counter-insurgency operations there.

President Macron was meeting French personnel deployed in the region but was joined by British military personnel as well – led by the senior British officer, Lieutenant Colonel Huw Law Army Air Corps.  During the meeting Lieutenant Colonel Law was able to brief the President about the ongoing heavy lift helicopter support that the RAF are providing to French forces in Mali.

“We had the opportunity to speak at length with President Macron and gave him an update on the composition of UK forces supporting Op BARKHANE as well as our significant achievements- notably the level of integration that has been achieved between UK and French aviation.

“The briefing was well received and all members of the delegation, including the President, thanked us for our contribution, stating that the deployment of the CH47 force has been a huge success.”

Lieutenant Colonel Huw Law
Senior British officer

Following the briefing the UK personnel joined over a 1000 other military guests at an open-air dinner hosted by the President.  Lieutenant Colonel Law was seated at the President’s table and Flight Lieutenant Florrie Sweet, one of the deployed Chinook pilots, was seated with the French Chief of the Defence Staff.

“It was a fascinating trip; it opened my eyes to the wider context of UK Operations in West Africa and the role of Chinook operations in Mali.”

Flight Lieutenant Florrie Sweet
Chinook Pilot

“This has been a wonderful opportunity. To be able to meet and personally brief President Macron is a great privilege.  This meeting highlights the importance he personally places on the UK’s contribution to French efforts in the Sahel, as well as the continued commitment of our nations to work together to enhance security in Europe and North Africa.”

Lieutenant Colonel Huw Law
Senior British officer

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MIL-OSI UK: Press release: Commission appoints Interim Managers at The Alternative Animal Sanctuary

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

The Charity Commission has today announced the appointment of interim managers to The Alternative Animal Sanctuary (1111406) due to continued concerns about the governance and management of the charity.

Interim managers are appointed to take over the running of a charity where the Commission has identified misconduct or mismanagement, or there is a need to protect the charity’s property.

The Commission opened a statutory inquiry into The Alternative Animal Sanctuary in March 2017 to examine the administration, governance and financial management of the charity.

The Commission made an order under Section 76 (3)(g) of the Charities Act 2011 on 2 January 2019 to appoint Phil Watts and Sarah Tomlinson of Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP as joint interim managers to the exclusion of the trustees.

The interim managers will take on control of the management and administration of the charity from the current trustees, with the exception of the day-to-day care of the animals at the sanctuary, until the Commission makes a further order.

The Commission’s investigation continues; it intends to publish a report setting out its findings on conclusion of the inquiry. Reports of previous inquiries are available on GOV.UK.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

  1. This appointment is a temporary and protective power that will be reviewed at regular intervals. It will continue until the Commission makes a further order for its variation or discharge.
  2. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. For more information see the about us page on GOV.UK.
  3. Search for charities on our online register.

Published 15 January 2019

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MIL-OSI UK: Press release: Wrexham care home abuser has sentence increased

Source: UK Government

A man who sexually abused a teenager more than 40 years ago has today had his sentence increased after the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, referred it to the Court of Appeal for being unduly lenient.
While in his late teens, Graham Stridgeon sexually abused a fellow resident at Bryn Alyn children’s home on several occasions in the 1970s. The victim was under 15 at the time. Stridgeon, now 64, was arrested and charged following ‘Operation Pallial’, an independent National Crime Agency investigation into recent allegations of past abuse in the North Wales care system.
Stridgeon was originally sentenced in October 2018 to 3 and a half years in prison at Mold Crown Court. The Court of Appeal has today increased his sentence to 5 years and 10 months in prison with an extended licence period of 3 years.
Speaking after the hearing, the Solicitor General said:
“I would like to thank the victim for bringing Stridgeon’s offences to light, and I hope that they now feel that their courage has been rewarded and that justice has been done. I would also like to thank the National Crime Agency for their hard work on Operation Pallial.”

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MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Margot James’ speech at the Tech Talent Charter’s one year anniversary event

Source: UK Government

It is a pleasure to be celebrating the achievements and impact of the Tech Talent Charter after one year on from its launch.
Seeing so many signatories to the TTC gathered here is an inspirational sight. It shows buy-in from all sectors to improve diversity of the tech workforce, something so essential for the continued success of our economy, and also the success for the sector.
It is impressive to see companies here who are competitors, working together to drive change and looking at the supporters of this event, TTC’s sponsors, and those on its board, shows that companies can put collaboration on this crucial issue ahead of their otherwise conflicting commercial interests.
I know this event sold out in under 24 hours and TTC could probably have filled the room again with the number of companies who wanted to be here, from large multinationals to small start-ups.
This is important because, as report shows today, larger firms can learn from how smaller firms approach the challenges around diversity.
In the UK we have a thriving, and ever-growing, digital and tech sector. The sector is worth over £184 billion a year and is growing at more than two and half times the rate of the economy as a whole.
Technology is a crucial and growing part of modern life. Emerging technologies have an ever-greater impact on how we work, communicate, travel, and more importantly on how the new generations are growing up.
And the people creating this technology have the power to influence how it works. That’s why, it is important that all of this new technology is being developed by a diverse workforce. We need diverse ideas and representation to break down disparities between gender, race and class amongst other defining characteristics.
That is the only way we’ll ensure that tech is created for everyone and that we will all benefit from these transformations.
Only 19% of our workforce in tech roles are female and furthermore, only 11.7% of computer science A Level students are women. And still, there is a digital skills gap we need to fill, despite the fact that digital jobs pay almost a third more than non-digital jobs it is proving a difficult gap to fill.
Whilst we often consider diversity in terms of race and gender, there are, of course, defining characteristics; age, sexuality, marital status, parental situation, mental health, and physical ability, to name some, against which we may unintentionally as well as intentional, discriminate.
At DCMS we want to support programmes working towards tackling the under-representation of all of these groups in our sectors.
It is encouraging to see the Tech Talent Charter has taken these other groups into account when mapping diversity work regionally – when we are addressing underrepresentation, everyone matters.
We’ve all seen the studies which prove that diverse workforces can improve a company’s bottom line and the more diverse are more likely to outperform their competitors financially.
But we are not just interested in the business case for diversity – supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce is the right thing to do.
I am proud that my department has supported the Tech Talent Charter since its inception and continues to support its growth, particularly regionally growing outside London and the South East and integrating its diversity work with our Local Digital Skills Partnerships that we are now establishing across the country.
Three of these partnerships are already up and running in Lancashire, the South West and, most recently, in the West Midlands, with 3 more launching in the first half of this year.
So it is important that we all engage with our networks and our client-bases to encourage our connections to sign the Tech Talent Charter. It is only once more-and-more companies join us that we will start to see the cultural change that we all know needs to happen.
The fact that so many companies are keen to join is testament to the tireless work of Debbie, her team, her directors and the other activists and volunteers working behind the scenes of the Tech Talent Charter, I thank you all for your fantastic work.
All central government departments have now signed up to the Tech Talent Charter and I’m proud to say that DCMS was the first government department to sign. Again, the public, private, and voluntary sector collaboration on this issue is critical to achieve meaningful change.
Increasing sector diversity is critically important in the context of the changing nature of the tech sector. New innovations are increasingly blurring the lines between the tech sector and the rest of the economy. And the growing “Createch” sector, where technology enables new forms of creativity and creativity enables better development of technology.
The important impact of this is clear – addressing barriers to inclusion in the tech sector will also have increasing benefits across the wider economy. Equally, tech businesses can improve diversity by working more seamlessly with other sectors.
In line with this cross-pollination of ideas and collaboration, my department is working more closely than ever with our counterparts across government to ensure we join-up on initiatives that challenge and change the status quo.
We are able to bring our knowledge of the sector to bear on how industry might play a part in attracting those young people from under-represented groups to a career in tech.
We also want to understand and improve the pipeline to the tech world via STEM choices in schools. Industry needs a boosted pipeline to feed into their growing numbers of tech roles. This, and, indeed the responsibility for diversity in tech as a whole, does not fall just on the shoulders of industry.
In government we are analysing how behavioural insights might help us understand the career choices for young women, and women entering the workforce, in making decisions that’s leading them away from STEM subjects in school and from tech careers.
It is important that we address and understand these issues and address them so we can work together to make the tech environment a place that benefits everyone.
Congratulations to all of you on the great year that you’ve had, the first year of Tech Talent Charter and the impact you’ve already made, and I look forward to congratulating Tech Talent Charter on reaching 300 signatories, a milestone I know is just around the corner.
There is a lot more hard work to come in getting this right, but, when we do, it really will enhance freedom and the opportunity throughout our society.
Women account for half the population and only 20 per cent of the most influential force of our time, technology and innovation and that cannot go unchallenged.
And I wish you the very best with your future endeavours and I pledge my support for the continuity of the Tech Talent Charter until the job is done.
Thank you for listening.

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