Ben Slade

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Benjamin Rory Slade
Born 1976
Newport, South Wales
Nationality Welsh
Education The Institute of Directors, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama & Cardiff Metropolitan University (joint course), Whitchurch High School
Occupation Chief Executive Officer
Employer Skill Force Development Ltd (SkillForce)
Known for Devising the concept of a character and resilience award programme for 6 - 14 year olds which was launched as The Prince William Award by the education charity SkillForce in March 2017. Also known for being the youngest secondary school headteacher in the U.K. (2007) and as former presenter of BBC's cult children's TV magazine show Why Don't You...?
Title CEO
Term March 2015 - present

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

Formerly, he was 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 ratings. It worked with audiences exceeding 2.3 million in the 9:30 am weekday school holiday slot on Children's BBC.

Slade's character became synonymous with "Why Don't You...?" and with Davies' scripts. As such, he was asked to join the Newcastle "gang" (presenting team) which also featured Ant McPartlin and 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 Banana [4]

Davies' scripts featuring Slade as a crazy young inventor were acknowledged as his first forays into writing television drama and undoubtedly 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 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 has also appeared in a wide range of television and stage productions and concerts. He is a keen musician with ABRSM grade 8s at a relatively young age in 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 his contemporaries Mali Harries, Jan Anderson and Hollywood actor, Ioan Gruffudd.

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 (joint course) in 1998), Slade embarked on a successful career in teaching culminating in him becoming the youngest (state) secondary school Headteacher in the United Kingdom (2007).

Following this (in 2012) Slade was appointed by the late Sir Chris Woodhead to the role of Education Executive/Executive Headteacher with Cognita the largest independent school group in the UK backed by KKR. During this time he was also Headmaster of Quinton House School in Northampton. During his short tenure GCSE results improved from (75% 5 or more GCSE grades including English and Maths to 92%) and the pupil roll increased significantly from 398 to 475.

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 Two Four Productions 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. He also contributed to Channel 5's "50 Greatest Kids TV Shows" (2013) and to a number of corporate videos.

He is a fellow of the RSA and the College of Teachers and, whilst a Headteacher Leader with the Prince's Teaching Institute in 2012 he is credited with envisioning the concept of a new (Royal) Chartered College of Teaching which as a result of a great deal of work by a wide range of educationalists has now come to fruition.

In 2015, Slade left the teaching profession having been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Military ethos education charity SkillForce. Their strapline "Heroes in schools transforming lives" encapsulates their dual mission, namely to retrain veterans from the three services to work as mentors and instructors in schools to inspire young people - particularly the harder to reach "to dare to be their best self" and to be "comfortable in their own skin".

HRH The Duke of Cambridge is Royal Patron of SkillForce. Former Chief of the General Staff, General The Lord Dannatt; former Chief of the Defence Staff General The Lord Ramsbotham and Rt. Hon Lord Freeman are Patrons. Sir Iain McMillan CBE is Chairman.

On March 1, 2017, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, launched The Prince William Award, Slade's brainchild which is to be 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 HRH's name,[7][8][9][10]


  1. ^ New heads are on younger shoulders as ambitious teachers seek top job, Alexandra Frean, 21 July 2008, Times online
  2. ^ In praise of summer mischief, Finlo Rohrer, BBC news magazine, 17 July 2008
  3. ^ Why Don't You?
  4. ^ [1], BBC, December 1991 accessed 06/03/2017, 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. ^ [2], Press Association, 1 March 2017, The Telegraph online
  8. ^ [3], Mike Griffiths, 1 March 2017, ITV online
  9. ^ [4], 1 March 2017, HRH The Duke of Cambridge
  10. ^ [5], Press Association, 1 March 2017, BBC News online