Justine Greening re-appointed education secretary in cabinet reshuffle

Re-appointment comes amid doubts about whether Tories can implement manifesto pledges after losing majority

Martin George

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Justine Greening has retained her post as education secretary, as prime minister Theresa May reshuffles her cabinet after losing her Commons majority.

Ahead of the election, there had been speculation that Ms Greening could be replaced by a more enthusiastic supporter of the prime minister’s plan to create new grammar schools.

Ms Greening retained her Putney seat in the election, but saw her majority of 10,180 reduced to 1,554.

She told reporters in Downing Street she was "very happy" to be carrying on in the role, and later tweeted that she was "delighted to be re-elected MP for Putney, Roehampton & Southfields, & to continue as SoS @educationgovuk & Minister for @WomenEqualities".

The leaders of the NUT and NAHT teaching unions were both quick to welcome her re-appointment on Twitter, as was national schools commissioner Sir David Carter, who said it meant they could continue their work on school improvement and social mobility.





Weighty in tray for education secretary

The Conservative manifesto promised to create new grammar schools, and replace universal free school lunches for infants with free school breakfasts for all primary pupils.

Another key pledge was to increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022, although the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated this would represent a 2.8 per cent cut in real terms per pupil funding over the course of the Parliament.

Now the party has lost its Commons majority, it is not clear which promises it will attempt to implement, and a number of people took to Twitter to speculate that Ms Greening's re-appointment signaled the end of the push to create more grammar schools.






Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs and a prominent supporter of grammar schools, said the party would have to “trim down our policies carefully to what we think Parliament will support”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics this morning, he said the government should look at a “rather modest sort of pilot looking at opening some state grammar schools in inner urban areas”.

And teaching unions are attempting to maintain pressure on the government over school funding, which emerged as a key election issue, demanding an urgent meeting with the prime minister to discuss it.

There are also a number of DfE consultations that are either on-going, or that the government has not yet responded to.

These include the EBacc, the national funding formula, primary assessment, and proposals to create new grammar schools, lift the faith cap on new faith schools and force universities and private schools to sponsor academies.

Greening's first year at the Department for Education

Ms Greening joined the DfE in July 2016, after Theresa May sacked her predecessor Nicky Morgan.

She quickly scrapped a number of Morgan-era policies, including SATs re-sits in year 7, allowing academies to dispense with parent governors, and forcing all schools in under-performing local authority areas to become academies

She publicly supported Theresa May's plans for more grammar schools, which led to headteachers heckling her at the Association of School and College Leaders conference in March.

However, there were persistent suggestions she was not enthusiastic about the policy, and in the week before the election she did not give a direct answer when asked on Radio 4 whether she personally believed in grammar schools.

She has put a heavy emphasis on the role of education in improving social mobility, highlighting the importance of technical education.

School funding became a high-profile issue during the election campaign, and Ms Greening was questioned about the Conservative election pledge which the independent IFS said would lead to a 2.8 per cent real-terms cut in per pupil funding over the course of the next Parliament.

In December, Ms Greening unveiled details of the controversial national funding formula for schools, which would have seen thousands of schools lose cash. In their manifesto, the Tories said they would "make sure that no school has its budget cut as a result of the new formula".

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