Repetition of Education Secretaries Becomes a Danger to Education

Opposition parties and teaching unions have accused ministers of presiding over a “carousel of education secretaries” after Kit Malthouse became the fifth person to hold the job in less than a year.

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Malthouse, the former Cabinet Office minister, was appointed by Liz Truss on Tuesday, taking over from James Cleverly, who had been in the job only two months and who was moved to be foreign secretary.

The rapid turnover began on 15 September last year when Gavin Williamson was sacked as education secretary as part of a reshuffle by Boris Johnson.

Nadhim Zahawi replaced Williamson, but he lasted only until February when he was moved to the business department. He was succeeded by Damian Hinds, who was then sacked in the summer reshuffle and replaced by Cleverly.

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “This is a carousel of secretaries of state that is dizzying in its pace and entirely shambolic for our children’s education. Parents and teachers will be rightly alarmed that such instability at the top could mean school problems are not being dealt with quickly enough or that vital decisions are being delayed.

“The Tories’ chaotic approach to education is damaging our children’s future – they urgently need to get a grip.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “We have had five education secretaries in less than a year. This is unprecedented and an indictment of this government’s chaotic approach to education policy.

“The new secretary of state must urgently tackle the real issues facing schools and colleges: workload, pay, funding and retention. They need to end the instability and bring some much-needed leadership.”

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Malthouse said he was “delighted” to be taking on the role and would be focused on “continuing to drive up standards in our world-class education system so that every child has the opportunity to succeed regardless of their background”./nHe added: “I also look forward to working with the sector as we continue to reopen schools and colleges safely and to support children and young people as they catch up on their learning.”

Malthouse becomes the fifth person to hold the job in less than a year. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters

Truss said Malthouse would bring “a wealth of experience” to the role, having served as a local councillor, London deputy mayor, housing minister and policing minister./She added: “He has been at the forefront of some of this government’s most ambitious plans to level up opportunity across the country, including our commitment to deliver full-fibre broadband by 2025, and our landmark housing deal which will see 225,000 new homes built in the Oxford-Cambridge arc.”

Malthouse, born in London and studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, has been the MP for North West Hampshire since 2015. He served as a local councillor in Westminster from 2006 to 2010./He was then appointed deputy mayor for policing and crime in London by Boris Johnson, serving from 2008 to 2012.

Truss said Malthouse would bring “a wealth of experience” to the role, having served as a local councillor, London deputy mayor, housing minister and policing minister.

She added: “He has been at the forefront of some of this government’s most ambitious plans to level up opportunity across the country, including our commitment to deliver full-fibre broadband by 2025 and our landmark housing deal which will see 225,000 new homes built in the Oxford-Cambridge arc.”

Malthouse, born in London and studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, has been the MP for North West Hampshire since 2015. He served as a local councillor in Westminster from 2006 to 2010.

What do you think of this rapid turnover of education secretaries? Is it a good or bad thing for the education system in England? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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