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The voice of real experience

Ngaio Crequer, profiles new ministers for lifelong learning and employment

If the new Labour government is short on experience, then the appointment of Baroness Blackstone as minister of state for education and employment will do much to redress the balance.

She knows every inch of the educational territory. Her first research article some 30 years ago was on how to improve primary schools. She has lectured at the London School of Economics, became professor of educational administration at the Institute of Education, and then the deputy education officer at the Inner London Education Authority.

In 1987, she was appointed Master of Birkbeck College. Long an enthusiast for adult education, she will now have lifelong learning as part of her brief. She said she wanted to see a learning culture so that "eternal student" is never again a term of abuse.

An intellectual, she first rose to prominence as a key "brains" in the think tanks of the Wilson and Callaghan Labour governments. She has recently been behind new research on how to promote Britain's prosperity, spearheaded by the Institute for Public Policy Research.

A life peer since 1987, she has been a Labour spokeswoman for education and science, the Treasury, trade and industry, and most recently principal Opposition spokesperson for foreign affairs.

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