As Theresa May steps into office at Number 10, a number of key changes are already taking place in the cabinet, not least for the Department for Education. This morning, it was revealed that Nicky Morgan would no longer be serving as education secretary and later in the day, Justine Greening was appointed as her replacement. So who are the key figures in government representing education, and what could change as a result of the reshuffle?
Morgan originally became education secretary in 2014 as Michael Gove’s successor. She came into the spotlight recently over several key issues, including the government’s plan to convert all schools into academies by 2020, her involvement with religious education high court ruling, the proposed revision to primary SATS and her appearances at the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and National Association of Headteachers (NAHT). Morgan was concerned about the funding inequalities in schools, and as she leaves office, her plans to develop a funding formula for schools to address this will be left to her successor.
Greening has been hailed as the first Education Secretary to have received a state comprehensive education, and is moving to the DfE from her position in the Department for International Development. Greening was the youngest female Conservative MP when she joined the House of Commons in 2005 and was appointed as a vice-chair with a responsibility for young people. She had also been involved with Work and Pensions and the Communities and Local Government team.
Timothy played a strong role in managing Mrs May’s Conservative leadership campaign, and steps down from his position as director at the New Schools Network to take up the role of advisor to the new PM. He has previously advised Mrs May at the Home Office for five years, having been a member of the Conservative Party since 2001. His belief is that the Conservatives must put more emphasis on helping working class families, which is suggested to have come from his own background, as the son of working-class parents.
But what about across the floor in the commons? The Labour Party have also gone through a number of large changes, and education is no exception. In a dramatic week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was forced to appoint two new shadow education secretaries as the first two candidates given the role resigned within days of each other.
Rayner was appointed as shadow education secretary on July 1st, following the resignations of first Lucy Powell on June 26th, and secondly her successor, Pat Glass on the 29th. Both of whom resigned as a part of a campaign against Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party. Since her appointment, Rayner has heavily criticised the recent changes to key stage 2 SAT tests, and the effects they will have on the children who will be identified because of them. Rayner has also held the positions as shadow work and pensions minister, and working with the women and equalities portfolio not long before her appointment.
Powell resigned her position as shadow education secretary as a part of a wave of resignations in the space of a few hours, orchestrated to put pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to follow suit. Powell had been shadow education secretary since September 2015, and before that, she had held the position of shadow minister for the cabinet office under Ed Miliband from November 2014.
This level of political re-shuffle will most likely bring with it considerable changes to education policies from both parties, which will only add to the uncertainty of the past month. And perhaps the next few years of Mrs May’s term will tell if these changes are to be of benefit or detriment of the British public, only time will tell…