Education Correspondent Duncan explores the impact of Cameron’s latest shake-up
On the 14-15 July, Prime Minister David Cameron had a reshuffle of his cabinet. This essentially means he moved, sacked, and promoted ministers and MPs to and from his cabinet. This was by far his widest ranging cabinet reshuffle of this parliament, done in preparation for the 2015 general election.
By far the biggest surprise of this cabinet reshuffle was the announcement that Michael Gove would be moved from his position as Secretary of State for Education to the Conservative Chief Whip.
Gove, over the last four years, has overseen radical reforms in GCSE and A-Levels, and of course, the banning of American books, such as ‘Of Mice and Men’, from literature syllabuses. He has been replaced with a relative newcomer, Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough. Morgan has only been an MP since 2010 and was not a well known name in politics before. Nevertheless, Morgan has already come under some criticism as Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities because she has previously voted against same-sex marriage legislation. She has also supported the availability of independent information for women considering an abortion. However, teachers’ unions have applauded the move to move Gove away from education. Morgan’s implementation has been seen as part of Cameron’s wider goal of introducing more women into cabinet.
The previous minister for universities and science, David Willetts, has been replaced by Greg Clark.
Willetts announced that he would resign from the role that he has been in since 2010. Clark will take on this role, in addition to his role as minister for cities and local growth, combining all of these roles into one. Responses to his appointment have been very much mixed, but most ask him to look towards the future of education.
Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education policy has said that four years ago, fee increases were the only viable choice for a government taking austerity measure. He went on to say that now the only way forward is to adjust (i.e. reduce) spending per student. Greg Clark’s top task is therefore to convince the Treasury that higher education and research should be protected as sources of future prosperity in the run-up to the second austerity general election of recent years.
Other appointments within cabinet include Philip Hammond, moved from Ministry of Defence to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Liz Truss to Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Esther McVey, who is allowed to sit in at cabinet meetings and retains her job as Employment minister.