The prime minister was right to sack Justine Greening from her post as education secretary, Theresa May’s former chief of staff has claimed.
Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Nick Timothy argued that Ms Greening had been “unpopular with officials”, and had “frustrated reformers, and she exasperated the prime minister”.
“Charged with making Britain ‘the world’s great meritocracy’, she put the brakes on policies that work, like free schools, and devised bureaucratic initiatives of little value. She made Nicky Morgan, a managerial education secretary, resemble Michael Gove, education’s great radical,” said Mr Timothy.
He pointed out that the introduction of the first T levels had been delayed by a year to September 2020, and said institutes of technology risked “becoming rebadged further education colleges”. “There will be a national retraining scheme, but it must be ambitious to get ahead of the unemployment that will be caused by new technology," he added. "The apprenticeship levy is welcome, but there are problems with delivering apprenticeships and training.”
He wrote that while many graduates emerged from university with good degrees, others came out with “a costly qualification that makes little difference”. Mr Timothy added: “On average, they will graduate with debts of £50,000, the highest in the world. Those who do not go to university – still more than half of young people – are neglected by a system guilty of institutionalised snobbery.”
Mr Timothy said that Ms Greening had blocked proposals to reduce tuition fees and refused to hold a proper review of tertiary education. He stressed that he played no role in her losing her post, however.
Responding to Mr Timothy's column, former universities minister Jo Johnson took to Twitter, saying that Ms Greening had "supported me in every single reform we undertook of our universities, was a terrific colleague and faultlessly loyal".
So wrong, this stuff re Justine Greening - she supported me in every single reform we undertook of our universities, was a terrific colleague and faultlessly loyal. https://t.co/9vvJdzGl7I— Jo Johnson (@JoJohnsonUK) January 11, 2018
Leading figures in the further education sector also reacted with disappointment to the departure of Ms Greening.
The prime minister's official spokesman said: "Nick Timothy left Downing Street more than seven months ago and he doesn't speak for the prime minister or for the government."