The Gove gang are back in business

Gavin Williamson may be the new education secretary, but Boris’s No 10 looks to be the new centre of schools-policy gravity.

Much was made last month about the appointment of Gavin Williamson as education secretary. A relative unknown in the world of schools policy, the best most people could come up with was a few jokes about leaking exam results. 

Indeed, we still know almost nothing about his education agenda (if he has one) apart from a few vague statements about standards and that he will be apparently focusing on the “three Fs”: funding, free schools and further education.

Veteran Department for Education watchers (sad sods such as me) will be interested to hear who will be appointed as special advisers, as such appointments can sometimes tell you something about what the education sector can expect from Whitehall. Rumours suggest that there will be at least one FE expert in Williamson’s private office, which makes sense given that we’re staring down the barrel of the post-Brexit skills deficit and the imminent arrival of the ever-controversial T levels.

Is it possible, however, that we’re all looking in the wrong place for clues as to this government’s future schools policy? I think so.

It would seem that the pendulum of education power on Whitehall is in the process of swinging back to No 10.

The appointments of former Gove adviser and Brexit bogeyman Dominic Cummings (you may have heard of him?) as Boris Johnson’s de facto chief of staff, the former deputy London mayor for education Munira Mirza as head of policy in Downing Street and former Gove speechwriter and City Hall free school boss Elena Narozanski as No 10 head of education all hint at education being a very major priority for Boris if he can ever rid himself of this pesky Brexit problem.

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