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Justine Greening had one of the shortest tenures as education secretary

Tory stalwart Sir Keith Joseph has served longest since 1970, with Michael Gove second

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Tory stalwart Sir Keith Joseph has served longest since 1970, with Michael Gove second

Justine Greening's 18 months at the Department for Education mean that she had had one of the shortest tenures in the role, despite leaving a legacy of significant changes to school funding and primary assessment.

Of the 20 people who have held the post in its various guises since Margaret Thatcher was appointed in 1970, the average time in the position has been 868 days – almost two-and-a-half years.


Sir Keith Joseph held the post for the longest – for 1,710 days between 1981 and 1986 – while Alan Johnson’s 418-day tenure at the end of Tony Blair’s premiership was the shortest of any recent education secretary.

Ms Greening’s 544 days at the DfE mean she had been there just over a fortnight longer than Kenneth Clarke in the early 1990s, but six months shorter than her immediate predecessor, Nicky Morgan.

Michael Gove, the most influential education secretary of recent years, held the position for four years and two months – the second longest in the post-Thatcher era.

See the full list of education secretaries since 1970 below:

Name Start date End date Days in post Margaret Thatcher 20/06/1970 04/03/1974 1353 Reginald Prentice 05/03/1974 10/06/1975 462 Fred Mulley 10/06/1975 10/09/1976 458 Shirley Williams 10/09/1976 04/05/1979 966 Mark Carlisle 05/05/1979 14/09/1981 863 Sir Keith Joseph 14/09/1981 21/05/1986 1710 Kenneth Baker 21/05/1986 24/07/1989 1160 John MacGregor 24/07/1989 02/11/1990 466 Kenneth Clarke 02/11/1990 10/04/1992 525 John Patten 10/04/1992 20/07/1994 831 Gillian Shephard 20/07/1994 02/05/1997 1017 David Blunkett 02/05/1997 08/06/2001 1498 Estelle Morris 08/06/2001 24/10/2002 503 Charles Clarke 24/10/2002 15/12/2004 783 Ruth Kelly 15/12/2004 05/05/2006 506 Alan Johnson 05/05/2006 27/06/2007 418 Ed Balls 28/06/2007 11/05/2010 1048 Michael Gove 11/05/2010 15/07/2014 1526 Nicky Morgan 15/07/2014 14/07/2016 730 Justine Greening 14/07/2016 08/01/2018 544


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