Chart countdown: Who’s the worst education secretary?

Greetings, pop fans: it’s time for a countdown of our least favourite education secretaries. But who will be at that coveted number-one spot? Zoë Crockford spins the decks
10th January 2021, 4:00pm
Zoe Crockford


Chart countdown: Who’s the worst education secretary?
Picture Of Westlife, With Michael Gove & Gavin Williamson Replacing Two Of The Band Members

Greetings, all you poptastic pedagogical professionals and welcome to the first chart rundown of 2021. 

It's been a tough 2020 for learnin' and teachin' in schools, and boy, were we glad to see the back of it. So, what the heck is happenin' to our new year? It's like some bonkers political flash mob has wiped out normality with their bombshell behaviour

Can we beat that? Yes, we can, with a fab and funky look back at the past 50 years of education ministers and the totally radical moves they laid on us.

Top of the educational pops

Straight in at number 10 is surprise appointment John Patten. Out of the blue in '92, this guy was most definitely not down with the kids. Claiming that he and God worried about each other in equal measures was probably not his coolest move. 

Slipping down to number nine is Estelle Morris. When the going got tough with a series of mega blunders, that chick split and got the heck out. Smart move, Morris.

Climbing up seven places this week to number eight, it's the mighty Nicky Morgan. No one wanted academy status but she knew better, patronising school leaders until she was sacked. Way to go, foxy lady.

Rocking in at number seven is Ruth Kelly. Only two years in post, but gee whizz, what a playlist: trust schools, extended schools, sex offenders in schools, ultra-conservative religious views. We could have told her it was never going to end well

Safe at number six for the third week running, who can forget Ed Balls? Hardly as dangerous in education terms, but hanging on in there as a media chameleon with his dancing and presenting and panel-showing. Take a chill pill, daddio, the world has enough balls in it. 

That all-important countdown

And so we start the all-important countdown from five to one. Who are the movers and shakers in the crazy world of teacherlicious travesty? Who will have the top spot for good old Great Britain's guardian of readin' and writin'?

At number five: Keith Joseph, with his memorable ode to 19th-century ideals. He's an old-fashioned guy, with hatred for the state system. Someone pass my top hat and let's train more kids to sweep chimneys, all right?

Storming up six places to number four: Kenneth Baker. This hardcore Eighties performer knew how to get things done. Not happy with teachers striking? Take negotiating rights away from the unions. Rock and roll.

Holding fast at number three, it's Margaret Thatcher. This bouffant babe belies a bullish battle cry. Her back catalogue of impressive political anthems is eclipsed by her move to remove milk from the mouths of millions way back in 1971. Thatcher, Thatcher, Milk Snatcher is the title of her all-time classic album.

Gavin or Gove: Who'll be top of the pops?

Slipping down one place from the top spot is Michael "gurning" Gove at number two. The only living Spitting Image puppet in existence, Michael is still vying for a return to that number-one spot.

Academy chains, the national curriculum, written exams, demoralised and angry teachers and parents, ignored experts - this is one badass minster of mayhem. And he ain't going nowhere. Our chart forecasters predict a duet at number one next week. Wake Me Up Before You Go, Gove, anyone?

And so, for sheer incompetence and blinkered self-belief, this week's top of the pops goes straight in at number one, after a year lurking in the shadows. Yes, it's the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

This is a well-deserved achievement for Gavin, who has wowed audiences with his monumental show of mediocrity and lack of commitment to making timely decisions. 

But, hey, you groovy guys and gals, let's not forget that Gav showcased his shambolic moves way back in July 2020. He proved to all those kids out there that messing with A-level results causes mega amounts of hassle and stress. 

Like a phoenix from the flames, he came back for more with his crazy Christmas dithering about opening schools in January 2021. They don't call him the U-Turner for nothing - this guy is clearly round the bend.

And check out this poptabulous fact: the average number of days in office for an education minister is 842. Gav, mate, you've got until 13 November 2021. 

Zoë Crockford is an art teacher at a secondary school in Bournemouth

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