Ben Slade

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Benjamin Rory Slade
Born 22 April 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 with HRH Prince William in March 2017. Slade is also known for being the youngest secondary school headteacher in the UK (2007) and as a former presenter of the cult children's BBC 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.

Early days as a BBC Children's TV presenter[edit]

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

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 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: The 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 career[edit]

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 backed by KKR. 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 corporate videos.

Slade is a Fellow of The Chartered College of Teaching and, whilst a Headteacher Leader with the Prince's Teaching Institute in 2012, he is credited with suggesting that a new (Royal) The Chartered College of Teaching be established as a more credible voice for the teaching profession. As a result of a great deal of work by a wide range of educationalists the Chartered College has now come to fruition led by Dame Alison Peacock

Charity Chief Executive[edit]

In 2015, Slade left the teaching profession having been 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 re-train 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 reach "to dare to be their best selves".

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; Rt. Hon Lord Selkirk, Earl Howe and veteran BBC Chief Correspondent Kate Adie OBE are Patrons. 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 and the Chartered College of Teaching. He also holds The Institute of Directors Certificate in Company Direction and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute [7]

The Prince William Award[edit]

On 1 March 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,[8][9][10][11]


  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. ^, 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