The Secret CEO: Forcing out Justine Greening while fighting to keep Toby Young shakes my faith in the government

This multi-academy trust CEO has been left flabbergasted in recent days, with Theresa May finally managing to get rid of her education secretary

The Secret CEO

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Two things have shaken this multi-academy trust CEO's confidence in the government: its inability to hold on to Justine Greening and the refusal to remove Toby Young from his appointment to the new Office for Students.

While I readily admit that I wasn't initially a massive Justine fan, a quiet respect developed and I made the mistake of underestimating the sophistication of her approach. It's not so much what she did; it's more what's she didn't do

She didn't force through grammars in a dogmatic political fashion; she knew that 90 per cent of the profession was against them and she did the best service she could do to a prime minister: she quietly objected and steered her leader away from what would have been a bigger disaster than her election mess-up.

She didn't play around with exams and assessments, she listened to what the profession said and she gave us a period of stability.

She genuinely fought for cash for schools, rightly challenged free-school expenditure and diverted it to all-schools funding – she worried more about standards than structures (and, yes, as a MAT CEO, I can say that).

She didn't bow to the unions, but she talked to them and engaged them and was on the brink of being able to transform the way in which government and unions work together. What a loss of an opportunity.

I believed her when she said she was fighting for social mobility.

And she did – just by doing her job effectively with dignity and resolve – more for the cause of women and LGBT rights than all of the government's posturing and bleating about it. It says it all when her opposite number in the Labour Party thanks her for acting with integrity and respect.

So the government throws all this away because she wouldn't play ball over grammars? Pathetic.

More legislative crap on the horizon

And what does this mean for us?

This CEO shudders at the thought of No 10 directly getting involved in edu policy/decisions again. Firing Greening means it hasn't learned at all. So you have to ask, what outdated piece of legislative crap is going to come hurtling our way next? Another white, male, grammar-school educated Oxford toff is going to make it all right for us – really? No, we now know that the person in that role has to do the PM's bidding – and therein lies the rub. Theresa May got it BADLY wrong before and we are just waiting to see what she gets badly wrong next. It fills me with no hope, only dread.

More practically, every time there's a change in education leadership – Gove, Greening, Hill, Nash, Agnew – as MAT CEOs, we have to start guessing what the new policies will mean for us, which is destabilising at best, destructive at worst.

Each time there's a change, we get a call to put on our best clothes, polish our smiles and come to breakfast/dinner/coffee and tell the new secretary of state or minister how it really is. What's the point? Number 10 makes policy and the newbie is probably not going to be there long enough anyway. This MAT CEO, for one, will certainly decline when that call comes. 

So turning to Toby "@toadmeister" Young. What the f***? This has to be the icing on the cake. Take everything I've just said about Greening's quiet but superb promotion of women and LGBT equality and throw it out of the window. There comes a moment, I've realised, when the straw really does break the camel's back. This is it for me. When I started to see senior politicians defending misogynistic and homophobic tweets and passing them off as sophomoric and immature, I had to believe that they weren't serious at all about equality. Has our PM actually heard of the words t**s and c**k used in that context before? And she thinks that OK?

It isn't. Finally, finally, he has stood down but only after more than 210,000 people protested at this repellent appointment online. The very fact that Young himself resigned, rather than being summarily removed, speaks volumes about how the government prioritises yes-men over anything approaching a constructive relationship with the profession.

Disillusioned?  I should say so. 

The author is the CEO of a multi-academy trust somewhere in England

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The Secret CEO

The secret CEO is the chief executive of a multi-academy trust

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