Discrimination is rarely the best approach

I guess I have appointed well over 100 people as employees in my eleven years as a Head Teacher and participated in appointing many more prior to becoming “the boss”. Have I ever discriminated in favour or against someone because of the school they attended? No, of course not, and there is a very good reason why not; it would mean I did not appoint the best person for the job.

Anyone who is engaged in appointing people knows that the most important aspect is finding someone who has the combination of attitudes, behaviours, skills and knowledge that the organisation requires. In common with most successful employers, large and small, I place attitudes and behaviours ahead of skills and knowledge. I can teach a willing employee anything; I can teach an unwilling employee nothing.

I welcome and support the move by the government to improve social mobility but Matt Hancock MP is barking up the wrong tree if he thinks discriminating against those who are privately educated will bring about rapid and substantial improvement. Programmes such as the National Citizen Service are part of the answer. What will bring about change is ensuring that all children are given wide-ranging opportunities to develop the characteristics that employers crave such as independence, initiative, empathy, co-operation, enterprise, confidence, dependability and resilience.

Perhaps Matt Hancock should start talking to Nick Gibb MP, his colleague, the Schools’ minister, as Mr Gibb knows all about the importance of developing positive characteristics in schools and elsewhere. I’d also be delighted to help Mr Hancock if he wishes to get in touch.