Greening put the brakes on education policies that work, says former No 10 chief of staff

The former education secretary, who left her post in this week's Cabinet reshuffle, succumbed to 'the blob', according to Nick Timothy

Tes Reporter

News article image

Theresa May's former chief of staff has criticised former education secretary Justine Greening for stalling his plans for more grammar schools and succumbing to “the blob”.

Nick Timothy (pictured) said Ms Greening had "exasperated" the prime minister by "putting the brakes" on reform. He described her replacement by Damian Hinds as "the bright point" of this week's Cabinet reshuffle, and has suggested the new education secretary could make a future prime minister.

"Greening was unpopular with officials, she frustrated reformers, and she exasperated the prime minister,” Mr Timothy writes in The Daily Telegraph today.

“Charged with making Britain 'the world's great meritocracy', she put the brakes on policies that work, like free schools, and devised bureaucratic initiatives of little value."

Mr Timothy, who left Number 10 after being blamed for the Tories' lacklustre election campaign last year, said Ms Greening had never dissented in public from Ms May's proposals to allow new grammars and increase sponsorship of state schools by universities, private schools and the Catholic Church. But she had "stalled as far as she could".

'Greening blocked proposals'

He denied allegations that he had "orchestrated" Ms Greening's dismissal, but made no secret of his disdain for her record, accusing her of succumbing to a change-resistant educational establishment that he termed "the blob".

"Greening blocked proposals to reduce [university] tuition fees and refused to hold a proper review of tertiary education," said Mr Timothy.

 "Hinds must be brave enough to do that, to ensure universities are better, fees are lower and young people get the technical or academic education that suits them.”

But Mr Timothy's criticisms of Ms Greening were rejected by former universities minister Jo Johnson, who worked under her at the Department for Education from 2016-18.

Mr Johnson, who became a minister in the Department for Transport and minister for London in this week's reshuffle, tweeted: "So wrong, this stuff re Justine Greening – she supported me in every single reform we undertook of our universities, was a terrific colleague and faultlessly loyal."

No 10 refused to say whether Mrs May and Mr Timothy had spoken recently but attempted to distance the PM from his comments.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "Nick Timothy left Downing Street more than seven months ago and he doesn't speak for the Prime Minister or for the Government."

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Tes Reporter

Latest stories