From education to employment

Bridget Phillipson is confirmed as the new Secretary of State for Education – Sector Reaction

Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Keir Starmer, the new Prime Minister has begun to announce his cabinet after the Labour Party’s Landslide General Election victory last night. The strap line for the Labour Party during the election campaign was Change. On hearing the news that the Labour Party had won the election, the next Prime Minister, Keir Starmer says “change begins now”. So the new PM has moved fast.

Bridget Phillipson was appointed Education Secretary today (Friday 5th July 2024) and was previously Shadow Education secretary from November 2021 until July 2024.

Education Secretary, Bridget Phillipson said:

“Opportunity should be for all – not just a lucky few. That’s why education is at the heart of the change this new government will make and will be at the forefront of national life.

“Education is key to improving children’s life chances. Lives are shaped by opportunity but too many people of all ages, in too many parts of this great country, simply don’t have the opportunities to succeed – this government will make sure they do.

“We’ll break down those barriers to opportunity through supporting children to get the best start in life, high and rising school standards for all and skills training to support growth, so that everyone can achieve and thrive.

“Government can’t do this alone. From day one we will reset the relationship between government, families and our education workforce; our dedicated teachers and school staff, early years staff, university and college professionals and social workers. Education will be at the heart of our national story, and it’s our workforces who are at the heart of education.”

· Born: 19 December 1983, Gateshead
· Education: Modern History and French, Oxford University
o Grew up in a council house in Washington
o Mother founded a domestic violence charity
o Worked in local government and at her mother’s charity

Political Career:
· Joined Labour at 15
· Elected MP for Houghton and Sunderland South in 2010
· Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (2020-2021) and Shadow Education Secretary from November 2021 to July 2024 (when then appointed Education Secretary after the General Election win).

Phillipson’s Key Education Policies as Shadow Secretary:

  1. Childcare and Schools:
    o Funded breakfast clubs for all primary school children in England
    o Reform of Ofsted, moving away from one-word judgements
    o VAT on private schools to fund more teachers
    o Full curriculum review, emphasising speaking and listening skills
    o Teacher retention incentives
    o Compulsory two-week work experience for all students
  2. Higher Education and Skills:
    o No plans to abolish tuition fees
    o Creation of ‘Skills England‘ body
    o Devolution of skills and adult education budgets
    o Reform of Apprenticeship Levy for more flexibility into the Skills and Growth Levy.
  3. Additional Focus:
    o Improved mental health support in schools
    o Enhanced careers guidance
    o Comprehensive childcare system from end of parental leave to end of primary school

Sector Reaction to Bridget Phillipson being announced as Education Secretary

Commenting on the appointment of Bridget Phillipson as the new Secretary of State for Education, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders’ union, NAHT said:

“I offer a warm welcome, and congratulations to Bridget Phillipson on her appointment as the Secretary of State for Education. We hope that she is able to bring about the stability, and reset that the education sector desperately needs. There is no more important job in government than ensuring children and young people receive the world class education they deserve.

“Over the last 14 years the crises in education have grown out of control; the patchy state of SEND provision, the worst recruitment and retention crisis in living memory, the dilapidated state of school buildings, and the broken accountability system. Being Education Secretary is a fantastic job – we should not underestimate the scale of the task the new government will now face. NAHT stand ready to work with the new government and we look forward to working with Bridget, and her team in years ahead.”

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