Lisa Mannall, Trust Lead

I became a teacher in 1994, when there was no such thing as Newly Qualified Teacher Status (NQT) and there was no Planning Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time. The adage of get in the classroom and we will see you at Christmas was true, and I “enjoyed” an inspection in my first year of teaching. So much has changed over the years and the recent cabinet reshuffle made me reflect on the number of Secretaries of State there have been over this time.

Secretary of StateLength of TermPartyPrime Minister
Gillian Shepard2 years 9 monthsConservativeJohn Major
David Blunkett4 years 1 monthLabourTony Blair
Estelle Morris1 year 4 monthsLabourTony Blair
Charles Clarke2 years 1 monthLabourTony Blair
Ruth Kelly1 year 4 monthsLabourTony Blair
Alan Johnson1 year 1 monthLabourTony Blair
Ed Balls2 years 10 monthsLabourGordon Brown
Michael Gove4 years 2 monthsConservativeDavid Cameron
Nicky Morgan1 year 11 monthsConservativeDavid Cameron
Justine Greening1 year 5 monthsConservativeTheresa May
Damian Hinds1 year 6 monthsConservativeTheresa May
Gavin Williamson2 years 1 monthConservativeBoris Johnson
Nadim ZahawiWe shall see…ConservativeBoris Johnson

Since I became a teacher there have been 13 different Secretaries of State in place. How many do you remember or have even heard of?

Over that time the title has changed. In 1995, Gillian Shephard stopped being Secretary of State for Education and became Secretary of State for Education and Employment. David Blunkett kept that title but in 2001 became Secretary of State for Education and Skills, but in 2007 Ed Balls was Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. At the end of his tenure the title was once again Secretary of State for Education, as it remains today.

Many are remembered for specific policies, while some are not remembered at all. Important for me are Estelle Morris resigning her post in October 2002, explaining she did not feel up to the job. An honesty that has been missing over the last 2 years.

Michael Gove and the whole Academy agenda changing from it being about failing schools to becoming about successful ones becoming system leaders.

The memory I have today is that for over two years education has had a Secretary of State who was sacked as Defence Secretary following a leak from a top-level National Security Council meeting. The Prime Minister at the time had “lost confidence in his ability to serve”.  The next Prime Minister put him in charge of the most precious thing the country has, our children and young people. A man who cannot tell the difference between Marcus Rashford and Maro Itoje – was it the fact they are both young men trying to do their best for our most disadvantaged children that confused him?

So, for my last few years in education, please may we have someone good. Someone who makes us all feel proud, valued, and listened to. Watch this space!