We were fortunate enough to have a Masterclass with Jonathan Slater, the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education. I was curious to meet this Permanent Secretary, because of the important role that education has on young people.
As an accountant a lot of my clients are academies and colleges. So, I was also interested in the Permanent Secretary’s views on funding for schools. Especially, with the spending review to be announced later in the year.
This was my first masterclass as the chair. Chairing involved introducing the speaker to the other members and allowing for follow up questions. The session was hosted by EY’s office in London bridge. To reduce our nerves, we had a briefing and practised the questions that we would ask the Permanent Secretary.
During the Masterclass the Permanent Secretary spoke about his career. Starting in local government he rose the ranks to become the director of Education, before moving to Number 10. One piece of advice he gave was to avoid being a generalist, and to find one skill or policy area to focus on. His career reflected this advice, seeing as he had held senior roles in the MoD, MoJ and the Home Office but, always focusing on operational effectiveness.
One of the main reasons for the Permanent Secretary’s passion for education was his background. In an interview with Civil Service World he revealed that his father was a teacher and mother a social worker. This caused him to ask the question “are we helping them”, and to challenge civil servants to ensure that they were helping those on the frontline do their jobs.
Written by Daniel Oso