Can Blunkett make the grade?

BY the end of the summer term David Blunkett will have enjoyed over three years as Education and Employment Secretary. He is already assured of his place as one of the longest serving education secretaries in the past half century.

He has spent as long in charge as Kenneth Baker and Margaret Thatcher's record, when she was serving in Edward Heath's government of the early 1970s, now looks under threat. If he can stay in post until the end of the year, he will overtake her.

To beat others, he must stay in post longer than his Labour predecessor George Tomlinson, who was minister of education in Clement Attlee's post-war government, and Sir Keith Joseph who remained in charge for nearly five years during the early 1980s.

This record could be achieved if he holds on to his post until an election in the spring of 2002.

There have, however, been more changes amongst the ranks o the junior ministers with education portfolios during this

Parliament. Nevertheless, Estelle Morris and Baroness Blackstone have each earned long-service rewards for their residence in Sanctuary Buildings.

Neither of the opposition parties can claim the same continuity and have already changed their shadow education spokespersons in this Parliament.

Of course in the end it is achievements, not the length of office, on which ministers are judged. Historians will ultimately assess ministers' own "standards and effectiveness".

Any teacher wishing to suggest measures by which Blunkett can be judged against his predecessors can e-mail me over the


John Howson

John Howson is managing director of Education Data Surveys. His e-mail is

Graph of David Blunkett's predecessors time in office NOT available in this database.

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