What Nicky Morgan failed to say today at the Conservative Party conference

Richard Vaughan

News article image

Today Nicky Morgan delivered her first conference speech as a minister in a majority Conservative government, telling delegates that she wanted to make education her "national mission".

But it was a speech that was more interesting for what she didn't say than what she did.

It was also the first major speech the education secretary has given since she declared she would consider running for the Tory leadership once prime minister David Cameron steps down.

As such, Ms Morgan's speech played very much to the party faithful. She made the now-obligatory mentions of "social justice" and One Nation conservatism.

She used the tougher language of "stamping out" bad attitudes in schools. And she made a pledge to make education "our national mission" for the "security of our country".

The party, Ms Morgan added, had in the past five years overseen a "rigour revolution", conjuring images of the world's most boring uprising imaginable.

The MP for Loughborough trod the line between demanding higher standards and carefully praising the "noblest of professions". But there was scant, if any, mention of the most pressing of concerns that face the school system today.

Aside from a passing reference to needing more teachers, there was little to raise hopes that the looming recruitment crisis was under control. And there was barely a crumb to console the post-16 sector as the Department for Education considers where the axe should fall in time for the spending review next month.

Nor was there acknowledgment of the growing bulge in primary pupil numbers that is heading towards the secondary sector, increasing class sizes and the demand for teachers.

Ms Morgan told delegates gathered in Manchester that there was "no greater investment that we can make in the future of this country than an excellent education for all".

Heads and their staff will be hoping she puts the money where her mouth is.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

Latest stories

Coronavirus: Partial vaccination of ASN staff 'is putting pupils at risk'

Gillick competence: What schools need to know

You may not have heard of the ‘Gillick competence’ but it may well be used by pupils to accept or reject the Covid vaccine – here’s what schools should be aware of
Andrew Banks 23 Sep 2021