Benjamin Rory Slade (born 22 April 1976)[1] is a British educator.

Benjamin Rory Slade
Born22 April 1976
NationalityWelsh
EducationThe Institute of Directors, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama & Cardiff Metropolitan University (joint course), Whitchurch High School
Alma materCardiff Metropolitan University Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Known forConceiving The Prince William Award - a pioneering character and resilience award for 6 - 14 year olds; being the youngest secondary school headteacher in the United Kingdom (2007) and as a former presenter of the cult children's BBC1 TV magazine show Why Don't You...? written and produced by Russell T Davies

Early days as a BBC Children's TV presenterEdit

Whilst at school in Cardiff in the 80s and 90s, Slade became the longest serving presenter of the cult BBC 1 network children's TV magazine programme, Why Don't You?[2] He joined the series in 1988 as a member of the Cardiff presenting team (known as "the gang") wearing his trademark flat cap.[3] These Cardiff programmes were the first written by the celebrated TV writer Russell T. Davies. Davies used this early opportunity to weave a dramatic storyline into the various activities, games and 'makes' to make the programme more interesting and appealing and to improve its audience ratings. During the Davies and Slade era the show's audience grew from 0.9 million to 2.9 million on Children's BBC up against ITV's This Morning.

Slade's 'character' quickly became synonymous with "Why Don't You...?" and with Davies' scripts. As such, he was asked to join the Newcastle presenting team which also featured Ant McPartlin in his first television role. He subsequently appeared as a lead character/presenter in two further series with two different Liverpool "gangs" which also featured soap star Alexandra Fletcher. All of these episodes were written and directed by Russell T Davies who went on to write and produce Doctor Who, Torchwood, Queer as Folk and Years and Years.[4]

Davies' scripts featuring Slade as a crazy young inventor were acknowledged as his first forays into writing television drama and helped launch his impressive writing career. Slade last appeared as a guest presenter on the final series directed by Trevor Stephenson-Long before pursuing a successful career in education. He is credited as the longest serving presenter in the cult television show's near 21-year run on network BBC 1.[5]

Slade is adopted and hails from Cardiff where he attended Whitchurch High School. He is featured in Russell T Davies' biography: T is for Television: The Small Screen Adventures of Russell T Davies (2008).[6] In the book Davies reveals that he had great plans for Slade and some other characters from the series in a new TV Drama. However, the casting was overruled by the then head of Children's Television, Anna Home.

Slade is a keen musician with ABRSM grade 8s in both piano and violin. He was also a member of the HTV (now ITV1 Wales) Junior Drama Workshop where he studied acting and performance with Peter Wooldridge alongside Jan Anderson and Hollywood actor, Ioan Gruffudd.


Education careerEdit

Following graduation with a first class honours degree and the Aneurin Davies Memorial Award for outstanding academic achievement from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Cardiff Metropolitan University in 1998, Slade embarked on a successful career in teaching culminating in him becoming the youngest state secondary school Headteacher in the United Kingdom in 2007. On appointment he was just 29.

In 2012 Slade was appointed by Sir Chris Woodhead to the role of Education Executive/Executive Headteacher with Cognita the largest independent school group in the UK now owned by Jacobs Holding. Slade was responsible for 8 all through schools in the UK. During this time he was also Headmaster of Quinton House School in Northampton. During his tenure GCSE results improved and the pupil roll increased significantly.

Slade has made regular contributions to both print and broadcast media on a wide range of educational issues. Furthermore, he has been involved in several pilots for Twofour and Maverick Television including "The Headmaster's Office", "The Drugs Education Show" and he narrowly missed out on being the featured headteacher and school for the original "Educating Essex" series directed by David Clews and featuring Vic Goddard and Passmore's Academy. He also contributed to Channel 5's "50 Greatest Kids TV Shows" (2013) and to a number of other media productions, most recently a radio documentary for BBC Radio Wales with Russell T Davies and Tim Vincent.

Charity Chief ExecutiveEdit

In 2015, Slade was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the military ethos education charity SkillForce. Their strap-line, "heroes in schools transforming lives", encapsulates their dual mission, namely to recruit veterans from the British Army, the British Navy and the RAF to work as mentors and instructors in schools to inspire young people – particularly the harder to develop their confidence, resilience and essential life skills.

The Duke of Cambridge is Royal Patron of SkillForce. Former Chief of the Defence Staff; General The Lord Ramsbotham; Lord Selkirk, Earl Howe and veteran BBC Chief Correspondent Kate Adie OBE are Patrons. Ambassadors include Bella Ramsey. Sir Iain McMillan CBE is Chairman.

Slade is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Institute of Directors, the Institute of Leadership and Management. He also holds the Institute of Directors Certificate in Company Direction and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute [7]

In August 2019 SkillForce ceased trading due to insufficient funding linked to Brexit and the schools funding crisis.

The Prince William AwardEdit

On 1 March 2017, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, launched The Prince William Award, Slade's brainchild developed in partnership with specialist partner is currently delivered by education charity SkillForce in schools across England, Scotland and Wales from September 2017. The Prince William Award is the first character and resilience award programme for 6 – 14-year olds and it the only award programme that bears his name,[8][9][10][11]

In June 2019, the charity made an unsuccessful appeal for merger or acquisition. It closed in August 2019.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ New heads are on younger shoulders as ambitious teachers seek top job, Alexandra Frean, 21 July 2008, The Times
  2. ^ In praise of summer mischief, Finlo Rohrer, BBC news magazine, 17 July 2008
  3. ^ Why Don't You?
  4. ^ [1], BBC, December 1991. Retrieved 6 March 2017, You Tube
  5. ^ McGown, Alistair. "BFI Screenonline: Why Don't You (1973–94)". BFI. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  6. ^ Aldridge; Murray, Mark; Andy (2008). T is for Television: The Small Screen Adventures of Russell T Davies. London: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-905287-84-4.
  7. ^ http://www.skillforce.org/our-team, Accessed 9 January 2018, SkillForce
  8. ^ [2], Press Association, 1 March 2017, The Telegraph online
  9. ^ [3], Mike Griffiths, 1 March 2017, ITV online
  10. ^ [4], 1 March 2017, HRH The Duke of Cambridge
  11. ^ [5], Press Association, 1 March 2017, BBC News