Election night: education's ones to watch

Who from the world of education is standing in the general election and what are their chances of staying in office?

Catherine Lough

Election 2019: Take Tes' end-of-campaign teacher survey

How could the outcome of tomorrow's election affect teachers and schools?

Depending on the results, we could potentially end up with a new set of education ministers and their shadow counterparts, and a totally different mix of Education Select Committee members.

Who is likely to survive election night unscathed and who could soon be looking for a new job? Here are the ones to watch out for.

Opinion: Election 2019: Why the parties are offering real choice

In full: Election 2019 manifesto promises for schools

Long-read: Whatever the election result, teachers are the losers

Gavin Williamson (Conservative)
Role: Education secretary
Constituency: South Staffordshire
2017 majority: 22,733 (69.8 per cent of vote)
Odds of keeping the seat: 1/200

In his brief time in post, education secretary Gavin Williamson has defended Ofsted from attacks by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, describing plans to scrap the inspectorate as “a recipe for disaster”.

He also promised a boost to teachers’ starting salaries, raising them to £30,000 by 2022-23, and the Tories have pledged to increase school funding in their manifesto.

He has also spoken of his admiration for teachers – his wife is a former primary school teacher. However, so far, Williamson has made no sudden moves, suggesting that if he remains in post there will be a period of calm after the radicalism of Gove and Gibb.


Nick Gibb (Conservative)
Role: School standards minister
Constituency: Bognor Regis and Littlehampton
2017 majority: 17,494 (59 per cent of vote)
Odds of keeping the seat: 1/100

Schools minister Nick Gibb has arguably been the most influential political figure in education of the past decade, both through his reforms of the national curriculum and championing of a “knowledge-rich” curriculum.

Alongside Michael Gove, he was responsible for introducing the phonics test, tough new Sats for primary pupils and the wholesale revision of GCSEs and A levels from 2015.

With a comfortable majority, Gibb is likely to keep his seat – he has represented the constituency since its creation, winning six general elections since 1997.


Angela Rayner (Labour)
Role: Shadow education secretary
Constituency: Ashton-under-Lyne
2017 majority: 11,295 (60.4 per cent of vote)
Odds of keeping the seat: 1/5

The shadow education secretary has argued for the abolition of Sats and Ofsted, stating that parents need to be “weaned off” primary school league tables. And she has pledged an end to "academisation", with no new academies opened under a Labour government.

However, she has been careful not to suggest that Labour would abolish existing academies. And when the party edged towards abolishing private schools, she appeared in a selfie with Chris Wheeler, head of a leading independent school, and was accused of “cosying up” to the sector.

Rayner has also championed adult education – and her own story, of leaving school at 16 before returning to education and rising up the ranks of the Labour Party, has informed her views on lifelong learning.


Robert Halfon (Conservative)
Role: Commons Education Select Committee chair
Constituency: Harlow
Majority: 7,031 (54 per cent of the vote)
Odds of keeping the seat: 1/20

The Education Select Committee chair has been a staunch critic of Labour proposals to scrap Sats, suggesting this would lead to more unconscious bias in teacher-led assessments.

However, when it comes to testing later in the education system he has been less enthusiastic, arguing in a speech in February that GCSEs are no longer fit for purpose given the rapid pace of technological change. He has also has argued for more scrutiny of council exclusion policies in order to prevent pupils being drawn into knife crime.


Layla Moran (Liberal Democrats)
Role: Education spokesperson
Constituency: Oxford West and Abingdon
Majority: 816 (43.7 per cent of vote)
Odds of keeping the seat: 1/6

Former maths teacher Layla Moran has, like her Labour counterpart, pledged to scrap Ofsted and Sats, and the Lib Dems have promised to match Conservative plans to raise teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000. The party manifesto also includes plans to create an adult education fund for people to draw on for new training at ages 25, 40 and 55.

Ms Moran has also called out the pressures on teachers, citing how “too many are leaving the profession because they are overworked and underpaid”.

Given that 62 per cent of her constituency voted to remain in the European Union, it is very likely Ms Moran will hold the seat.


Mike Kane (Labour)
Role: Shadow minister for schools
Constituency: Wythenshawe and Sale East
2017 majority: 14,944 (62.2 per cent of vote)
Odds of keeping the seat: 1/12

The shadow schools minister has argued that teachers should have a say in devising the national curriculum. As a former primary school teacher himself, he has also said that Britain’s pupils are the “most tested in the world”.

And Mr Kane has spoken of the need to make schools more democratic, ceding control back to parents, stating that the school commissioner regions are too loud.


Emma Hardy (Labour)
Role: Commons Education Select Committee member
Constituency: Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle
2017 majority: 8,025 (53.1 per cent of the vote)
Odds of keeping the seat: 1/3

Emma Hardy, who sits on the Commons education select committee and is a former primary school teacher and teaching union organiser, has spoken out against inequality in education earlier this year, arguing for unbranded uniforms and an end to “expensive blazers” in schools.

And in her maiden Commons speech, Ms Hardy, who is parliamentary private secretary to shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, said schools must not be reduced to “learning factories,” stating teachers must help pupils to develop critical thinking in order to combat the rise of “fake news”.


Gordon Marsden (Labour)
Role: shadow FE minister
Constituency: Blackpool South
2017 majority: 17,581 (50.3 per cent of the vote)
Odds: 9/4

Gordon Marsden has held this seat for Labour since 1997, although only by a very small majority at each of the last three elections. A remain supporter, he managed to retain Blackpool South in 2017, despite the majority of voters having voted in favour of Brexit in 2016. It would require a swing of 3.7 per cent for the Labour shadow minister to lose his seat tonight. 


Vix Lowthion (Green)
Role: Green Party National Spokesperson for Education
Constituency: Isle of Wight
Odds: 9/1

Ms Lowthion, a secondary school teacher from Newport, has spoken out about the current system of assessment, which she says “treats pupils like battery hens”. The Green Party have said they would abolish Ofsted and academies, with Ms Lowthion stating that a target-led culture in schools has contributed to the crisis in pupil mental health.

Alongside her counterparts in Labour and the Lib Dems, she has pledged to scrap Sats. And she has also said the Greens would ban league tables and bring academies and free schools back under local authority control. In 2017, she criticised Labour’s plans to create a National Education Service as being vague on detail.

Among the teachers standing are...

Mark Lehain (Conservative)
Constituency: Newcastle upon Tyne North
Odds: 8/1

The founder of Bedford Free School and former director of Parents and Teachers for Excellence is a  supporter of “knowledge-rich” pedagogy, and is now standing for the Conservatives in Newcastle. Prior to joining PTE, he also led the New Schools Network to advocate for free schools.

Jackie Schneider (Labour)
Constituency: Wimbledon
Odds: 16/1

Jackie Schneider has been a music teacher for 29 years, most recently at St Teresa’s RC Primary School in Merton, South London. She is a prolific contributor to edutwitter, has been vocal in her condemnation of Ofsted and has campaigned for the abolition of tuition fees.

Jonathan Gullis (Conservative)
Constituency: Stoke-on-Trent North
Odds: 11/10

Jonathan Gullis still teaches full time – he is head of Year 9 at Fairfax Academy in Sutton Coldfield, and he is forecast to win the closely contested seat. He has highlighted his party’s commitment to funnel £780 million into special needs education during his campaign.

FE figures to watch

Anne Milton (Independent)
Constituency: Guildford
Odds: 25/1

Former Conservative apprenticeship and skills minister Anne Milton won the vote in Guildford with 30,295 votes in 2017 - 54.6 per cent of the vote. However, following her de-selection from the Tory party, her chances of retaining her seat are looking relatively slim. 

Tom Bewick (Brexit Party)
Constituency: Dagenham and Rainham
Odds: 33/1

Federation of Awarding Bodies chief executive Tom Bewick is standing in Dagenham and Rainham, having campaigned for Vote Leave in the EU Referendum. The former Labour councillor resigned from the party in May of this year, before announcing he would stand for the Brexit Party.  He is currently on sabbatical from his post at FAB. 

All odds are taken from Odds Checker and are correct as of 11 December 2019.

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