A bad week for education secretary Nicky Morgan ends with petition for her to go

Janet Downs's picture

It’s not been a good week for Nicky Morgan.  Derision greeted her view that 47% of English 11 year-olds failing to reach the expected standard was a ‘good start’ to the Government’s new ‘rigorous tests’.  Primary school parents faced with the nearly one-in-two chance of their child being labelled a failure at age 11 might consider boycotting these wretched tests next year. 

More bad news reached Morgan when the Education Select Committee rejected her choice of Amanda Spielman as the next Ofsted chief.   Morgan’s taken no notice, however, and is pressing ahead.  Her action again raises the question of whether heads of supposedly independent non-ministerial departments should be in the gift of ministers.

The Education Select Committee didn’t stop there.  Its first report heavily criticsed the state of careers education, information and guidance (CEG) in England’s schools.  CEG’s demise, which began when funding for the Technical and Vocational Initiative ceased in 1997, was hastened when Michael Gove, who had a visceral hatred of careers advisors, became Education Secretary in 2010.  Where there was once a national system of professional local authority careers advisers, there is now an ‘unruly and complex web of organisation, service providers and websites’, the Committee writes.  This muddle, combined with numerous initiatives, have created a ‘confusing and costly mess’.  The Committee says the Government ‘must’ appoint a single Minister in charge of CEG.  It remains to be seen whether the new Prime Minister, whoever she is, takes any notice.

Finally, Morgan backed the wrong horse in the leadership contest.  Her favoured candidate, Michael Gove, pulled off the extraordinary feat of receiving fewer votes (46) in the second round than he did in the first (48).   Gove not only failed to attract any votes which had previously gone to Stephen Crabbe and Liam Fox but lost two of his previous supporters.  Perhaps Tory MPs were deterred by the email from Nick Boles, Gove’s campaign manager, suggesting they vote tactically for Gove to keep Andrea Leadsom from running.  Or maybe they took note of Ken Clarke’s remarks that Gove was ‘wild’ and if he were PM we’d ‘go to war with at least three counties at once’. Or maybe they’d read a Spectator article written before Johnson withdrew which threw doubt on Gove’s later claim that he’d only realised ‘this week’ that Boris was unfit to be PM.  It said Gove had voiced qualms about Boris’s unsuitability to lead the country two-and-a-half years ago.   Or maybe they found Gove’s shafting of Boris distasteful and, rather than being the action of a man who claims never to have wanted to be leader, was prompted by vanity and ambition.

Whether Morgan remains Education Secretary will be up to the new PM.  In the meantime, a petition was started 20 hours ago for Morgan to resign following the KS2 Sats debacle.  It’s here.

ADDENDUM 14 July 2016   The petition is now redundant.  Theresa May has sacked Nicky Morgan.  Former Education Secretary Michael Gove has been sacked as Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor.  He'll have to give up the robes and the bling.




Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Be notified by email of each new post.


agov's picture
Mon, 11/07/2016 - 10:31

On a positive note, rumour has it that Nicki Morgan is supposedly one of the 20 Conservative MPs who will resign as soon as Andrea Leadsom (- her being the one who won't slip Britain back into the hated EU by the nearest back door) is elected Leader. Win-win.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 11/07/2016 - 16:20

agov - how quickly events change.  Leadsom (her being the one who embellished her CV, thought giving birth gave her the edge over childless May and who regularly appears in Private Eye re her finances) has now backed out leaving May as the next PM.  May backed remain (if rather discreetly) but she's said, Brexit is Brexit even though she was one of the 48% who didn't think the EU was 'hated'.  But that's yesterday's news - we're going.  Ironic, isn't it, that the ones taking action at the moment are remainers:  Mark Carney had a plan when the leavers obviously didn't; Osborne (another remainer) is in America banging the drum for Britain and May will be ultimately responsible for the negotiations.  It will be interesting to see how quickly she takes action (ie invokes Article 50) where Gove bumbled there was no hurry.

Difficult to see, though, how May can stand by the promise made on the side of the leaver's battle bus to spend £350m per week on public services including the NHS when the UK never sent £350m to the EU in the first place.  

agov's picture
Tue, 12/07/2016 - 08:23

Indeed they do. That has though had the result that former or wavering Conservative voters who had been thinking of returning to Conservative allegiance are now incandescent with fury and now quite viciously determined to vote, and perhaps join, UKIP. Much like former Labour supporters. So, LibDems gone last time, Labour next time, and hopefully the Conservatives at the election after that. In the shorter term there are plenty of ways to remain within the reality of the EU even if not the form - an even worse position than now. It wasn't up to a campaign group to formulate a short-term plan. That's what the government should have been doing. Had Harold Wilson lost his referendum he would have immediately announced what he wanted people to know would be happening. Blame Cameron - it was his responsibility but Mr Not-a-quitter quit having previously forbidden the government machine from making any contingency plans. Nigel Farage said he would not have used the £350m claim but nevertheless everyone in the country knew it was a gross figure (and the rebate ends in 2020 anyway). Contrary to previous claims it now seems that far more young people voted than previously claimed - http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/09/young-people-referendum-... though claims have emerged that in some areas many foreign (i.e. EU) nationals were wrongly allowed to vote - hopefully that will be investigated.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 11/07/2016 - 16:25

Will be interesting to see who May chooses as her ministers.  Will Gove supporters Morgan and Gibb keep their jobs?  Will Gove remain as Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor?  Will May keep Osborne at the Exchequer?  And what about Nick Boles who sent out the infamous email suggesting Tory MPs vote tactically for Gove?  Will there be a place for Boris (I'm only joking)?

And isn't Labour having a little internal difficulty at the moment?

agov's picture
Tue, 12/07/2016 - 08:23

Labour certainly is. Not least because Blairite MPs continue to betray Labour voters by persisting in demanding that the referendum result be ignored and we stay in the EU. But no-one cares what Labour says or does so it can get on with its squalid coup without anyone else being much troubled about it.

Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.