Michael Gove leaves Department for Education in major Cabinet reshuffle

15th July 2014 at 12:52

Michael Gove has left his role as education secretary as part of a wide-ranging Cabinet reshuffle by prime minister David Cameron. 

Taking over as secretary of state at the Department for Education will be Nicky Morgan, who was previously minister for women and equality, and who will keep that part of her portfolio.

Mr Gove's departure will see him take up the role of Commons Chief Whip and has been one of the biggest surprises of the reshuffle, which has also seen Foreign Secretary William Hague and Kenneth Clark step down.

Mr Gove was widely seen as being safe in Mr Cameron's reshuffle, due to him being part of the prime minister's inner circle.  

But the MP for Surrey Heath has also been one of the most polarising members of the Cabinet, and his controversial reforms have been the subject of serious criticism, particularly among the teaching unions.

Just last week, the NUT staged a national strike over Mr Gove's reforms to pay, pensions and working conditions.  

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers welcomed the decision to replace Mr Gove.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “David Cameron has, belatedly, realised that Michael Gove’s ideological drive is no substitute for measured, pragmatic reform of the education system.

"Time after time he has chased newspaper headlines rather than engage with teachers. The dismantling of the structures which support schools, the antagonism which he displayed to the teaching profession and the increasing evidence of chaos in the bodies he established – in particular the Education Funding Agency – has led Cameron to one conclusion – Gove is more of a liability than an asset.

“Successful education systems value the views of the teaching profession, which Gove insulted when he called them ‘the blob’. ATL looks forward to a more constructive relationship with his successor, Nicky Morgan.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union the NAHT, said: “I think he did have a sincere vision for what he wanted to get done and was able to communicate it well to the public, but he was not able to sell it to teachers, he didn’t bring them on-side to make sure that vision would stick.

“Gove has shocked the system but it needs someone else to help it grow back.

“I think headteachers will now hope for a period of calm, where there aren’t any more bright ideas coming their way.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: "As someone who has had extensive contact with Michael Gove I have absolutely no doubt that he has a passion for improving the life chances of young people. Many of his reforms have been highly controversial and time will tell what the impact is.

"For the new ministerial team, the key priority is to give schools and colleges time to implement the large number of reforms already underway. The temptation for a new minister is to make their mark, but the last thing students and teachers need is another raft of reforms."

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