Former minister Robert Halfon has been elected chair of the Commons Education Select Committee.
He beat off competition from fellow former DfE ministers Nick Boles, as revealed exclusively by Tes, and Tim Loughton, as well as fellow Conservative MPs Rehman Chishti, Stephen Metcalfe and Dan Poulter.
Speaking to Tes before the results of the ballot of MPs, Mr Halfon stressed he would not be afraid to challenge his former Department for Education colleagues if elected. Despite being removed as apprenticeships and skills minister just weeks ago, with Anne Milton since appointed to the position, he stressed that he was “no establishment man”, and said he had applied for the role owing to his “genuine passion for education and skills”.
'Evidence not preconceptions'
“I have massive admiration for my former boss Justine [Greening], I like her a lot,” he said. “She is brilliant and committed to social mobility. But my job would be to hold the government to account.” His approach to chairing the committee, he added, would be “formed on evidence, not preconceptions”.
In a written statement supporting his bid, Mr Halfon states: “As a former education minister, I bring recent experience of the policy and challenges the committee will face in the year ahead. But, to those who need reassurance, I am no establishment man. I will not be afraid to challenge ministers, leaders or the sector when needed.”
Mr Halfon said the main FE areas he would focus on would include apprenticeships, careers advice, T levels, university technical colleges and national colleges.
The Association of Colleges welcomed his election. AoC president Ian Ashman, Mr Halfon would make "an excellent chair and hold the government to account effectively". He added: "The role of the education select committee will continue to be critical in this Parliament, particularly with the changes and challenges facing the sector. Robert has a detailed of knowledge of the college landscape and understands the importance of the sector in meeting the skills challenges this country faces. AoC has worked closely with Robert in the past both when he was a minister and as a backbencher and we will continue to do so as he begins this new role."
Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes FE News on Twitter, like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn