Comings...and goings

22nd December 2006 at 00:00
THE LAST 12 months have been an unsettling game of musical chairs for those at the pinnacle of the education tree. If changes in the two top Whitehall posts were not enough, there has been a widespread job swapping among the many chief executives of the schools world and almost constant speculation about where whoever happens to be education secretary will go next.

Ruth Kelly went into 2006 with many questions lingering over her spectacularly unpopular spell as education secretary. In May, the 38-year-old mother-of-four was shifted aside to become Community and Local Government secretary.

A successful make or break Commons speech during January's scandal over sex offenders in schools, was not enough for Tony Blair as fears over the future of his schools reforms came home to roost. When the music stopped it was left to Alan Johnson to pilot them through Parliament with more than a little Conservative help. But it has been the former postman's Labour deputy leadership ambitions, rather than his education policy that have gained him the most headlines since.

The same reshuffle ushered in Jim Knight, replacing Jacqui Smith as schools minister (she went on to wield the Labour whip) and Parmjit Dhanda took over from Maria Eagle as minister for young people and families.

David Bell was there as permanent secretary to help them all settle in. But the 47 year-old had barely had time to make his own mark having only taken over from Home Office bound David Normington in January.

Mr Bell - replaced by Christine Gilbert as chief schools inspector - also had a new director general of schools in Ralph Tabberer who, in turn, was replaced by Graham Holley as chief executive of the Training and Development Agency for Schools .

The General Teaching Council is looking to replace Carol Adams following her retirement after seven years in the top job.

The departure of Mark Pattison after less than two years as chief executive of the national strategies was more sudden and came amid rumours of a fraught relationship with the DfES.

And Canon John Hall, one of the most influential movers and shakers outside government, left his job of head of education at the Church of England to become dean of Westminster.

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