Gavin Williamson appointed education secretary

The minister in charge of implementing Johnson's priorities for schools will be the fifth education secretary in just over five years

Gavin Williamson, the new education secretary, is to take personal responsibility for the FE and skills brief

Gavin Williamson has been named as the new education secretary by prime minister Boris Johnson.

The news comes after Damian Hinds this afternoon left the DfE and returned to the backbenches, ending a tenure of 18 months.

His successor is the fifth education secretary in the space of just over five years.

Michael Gove was demoted in July 2014, and was followed by Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening and Mr Hinds.


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Mr Williamson's wife Joanne is a former primary school teacher.

He was chief whip under Theresa May, before being promoted to defence secretary in November 2017.

He was sacked in May following a leak from the National Security Council. In a letter, Ms May said an investigation found “compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure”, and added: “No other credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified.”

Mr Williamson strenuously denied the allegation.

The South Staffordshire MP went to Raincliffe Comprehensive School in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, before attending Scarborough Sixth Form College. He studied social sciences at the University of Bradford.

After graduating, he started a career in manufacturing, and became managing director of an architectural design firm, which his website says “has been involved in the design of many schools, public sector and commercial buildings”.

The website says Mr Williamson “had a strong interest in education issues” during a period as a county councillor, and has served as a school governor.

Mr Johnson said his government would "level up" per-pupil funding for primary and secondary schools as one of his priorities on the steps of Downing Street today. The new prime minister has promised to increase funding for schools by £4.6 billion by 2022-23.

As well as funding pressures, issues facing the new education secretary include the continuing teacher recruitment and retention crisis, teacher workload, the SEND system and campaigns objecting to primary schools teaching about same-sex relationships.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has called on the new administration to provide a "brighter and more optimistic vision for education by improving support for struggling schools, easing the grinding pressure of exams and accountability, and boosting teacher recruitment and retention".

“Schools and colleges do a fantastic job despite very challenging circumstances, but they need more resources and vision from the government,” he said.

 

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