It’s all change at the department for education with Justine Greening appointed as the Secretary of State for Education. So what does it all mean?
In another momentous week for British politics there has been a lot of change at the department for education, with Theresa May becoming Prime Minister and Nicky Morgan replaced by Justine Greening, but who is she and what does her appointment mean for UK education?
What Has Changed?
Firstly, Nicky Morgan lost her job as Secretary of State for Education when Theresa May became Prime Minister, with the job going to Justine Greening. However, that is not the only change, as the role itself has now changed so that it now includes responsibility for universities as well as schools. Ms. Greening is also the minister for women and equalities.
This aligning of schools with universities is particularly interesting as it could see a greater level of synergy between education at all levels as well as how they interact with business and the economy through the teaching of skills.
Introducing Justine Greening
An economics graduate from Southampton University, Justine Greening originally went to school at a comprehensive in Rotherham, making her one of the few education secretaries to have attended a non-selective state school. The new education secretary also recently announced that she was in a same-sex relationship, making her the first openly gay female Cabinet minister.
She worked as an accountant before entering the House of Commons in 2005. Before becoming the Education Secretary, Ms. Greening was the Secretary of State for International Development.
What Does This Mean For UK Education?
Speaking following her appointment, Ms. Greening said she was “looking forward to getting on with the job,” and it is clear that she has plenty to do!
Next week sees the second reading of a higher education bill that could raise university tuition fees in England, while others have warned that Ms. Greening will have to address school funding cuts and a teacher recruitment crisis.
Malcolm Trope, the leader of the head teachers’ union stated that “we urgently need greater investment in the education system,” while Kevin Courtney of the National Union of Teachers has said there are problems with teacher recruitment, working hours and a lack of funding for schools.
Russell Hobby, the leader of the National Association of Head Teachers has questioned this year’s primary school S.A.T. tests while also arguing that the “government has not won the argument on academies,” arguing that good and outstanding schools should be able to choose to remain part of their local authority.
Elsewhere, John Pugh, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman has called for Ms. Greening to “put a stop to damaging proposals to scrap Qualified Teacher Status and parent governors, as well as plans to vastly increase numbers of academies.”
It is clear that there is a lot for Ms. Greening to address, so it will be interesting to hear how she plans to address all of these issues when she sets out her plans for the future of education in Britain. However, with a more joined-up approach there is a hope that the links between education and the workplace are strengthened.
As Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said, “It’s really important for the future productivity of our economy that education and skills are joined up in an effective way and I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has taken the opportunity to reflect this in reshaping the machinery of government.”