Academy adviser and ex-Blair aide is new chair of Ofsted

11th February 2011 at 00:00
Baroness Morgan lands key role in Coalition educational establishment

A former aide of Tony Blair who has since played a key role in the academies programme has been named new chair of Ofsted.

Former geography teacher Baroness Morgan, previously Sally Morgan, was the former prime minister's political secretary and then a senior adviser for eight years after he entered Downing Street in 1997.

She was made a Labour life peer in 2001. Since leaving Downing Street in 2005, she has been an adviser to children's charity Ark, which runs a chain of 12 academies, and the 51-year-old is a governor and chair of the curriculum committee at one of them, the Globe Academy in Brixton.

Baroness Morgan is also an adviser to the New Schools Network, the organisation responsible for promoting the Coalition Government's free schools policy.

Lesley Smith, communications director for ARK, described the move as an "inspirational appointment".

"Sally's the first (Ofsted chair) to have a close experience of the academy programme, and has links with it which are close to her heart," she said. "Day to day, she knows what's going on in the schools and in the education world.

"She has maintained a close relationship with education. At ARK, she's seen what are rich schools supporting disadvantaged children. It's about providing excellent schools where the communities have had difficulties in the past. (Her new role) is about raising standards, that's what's important, and she's got relevant experience."

Baroness Morgan is the latest Blairite figure to be appointed to a key position by the coalition Government, following in the footsteps of Frank Field, John Hutton and Alan Milburn.

Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham said: "I congratulate Baroness Morgan and offer her my warmest wishes. Sally's own background and experience will ensure she places the importance of raising aspirations in all schools, for all children, at the heart of the role."

Baroness Morgan has an MA from London University's Institute of Education, where she serves on the advisory committee.

BLAIR'S VERDICT - 'Reached parts others couldn't'

Sally Morgan, the political secretary and later director of political and government relations, was very much a Labour person and could reach the parts of the political firmament others couldn't; but for all that was totally in favour of aspiration and high standards, and, though a formidable organiser, had no truck with Old Labour organisational politics.

But she and Alastair (Campbell), along with Bruce Grocott, my parliamentary private secretary since 1994, could always understand the party point of view. They didn't necessarily agree with it, but they always got it, and therefore were invaluable in advising how to change it. Excerpt from 'The Journey' by Tony Blair.

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