Michelle Donelan has been announced as maternity cover for pregnant education minister Kemi Badenoch – and is expected to take on her remit for supporting Gavin Williamson on further education.
In the recent reshuffle, it emerged that there would be no dedicated skills minister, with education secretary Mr Williamson personally taking on the FE brief, with support from Ms Badenoch.
However, Ms Badenoch is going on maternity leave shortly. Today the Department for Education confirmed that Ms Donelan, the MP for Chippenham in Wiltshire since 2015, will assume the role of parliamentary under-secretary of state in Ms Badenoch's absence.
'Shifting stereotypes' in education
Ms Donelan has previously sat on the Commons Education Select Committee (from July 2015 to May 2017, and from September 2017 to October 2018), as well as on the Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-committee from November 2015 to May 2017. She has also served as an assistant whip since July 2018.
In a post on her website from 2017, Ms Donelan said that she had managed to visit every school in her constituency within the first two years of her term in Parliament, but there was no mention of further education colleges.
Ms Donelan previously described the skills gap in her constituency as a "ticking time bomb", and organised the Wiltshire Festival of Engineering in a bid to challenge gender stereotypes.
In a debate on education in 2015, she said: "We also need to recognise the true utility of vocational courses. We need to stop pushing students towards the traditional academic routes, we need to start treating children as individuals rather than mass statistics, and we need to work to shift the stereotypes that are attached to jobs and courses.”