New Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has appointed Gillian Keegan as Education Minister.

“I am very honored,” she tweeted when she learned of the appointment.

“Education changes lives – I know that talent is equally distributed across the country and I will work tirelessly to ensure that too.”

The Chichester MP is the fifth person to act as Education Secretary in the past four months, following Keith Malthouse, James Cleverley, Michelle Donnellan and Nadhim Zahavi.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), called the turnover rate a “farce”.

Welcoming Keegan to her new post, he said: “This revolving door shows a complete disregard for the importance of what should be a key public office and it must stop. Education is more important than that. This is a vital public service.

“Schools and colleges deserve stable political leadership that tackles the critical challenges of underfunding and severe staff shortages caused by a government that undervalues ​​the workforce and undermines its morale.”

The low priority given to the education of children and youth in the country and the low regard this government has for teachers and support staff must stop – Dr. Mary Boustead, NEU

Barton’s words were echoed by Dr Mary Bowstead, General Secretary of the National Education Union:

“We welcome Gillian Keegan as Education Secretary,” she said. “They surprisingly became the 10th Education Minister in 12 years… It does not inspire confidence in teachers, parents and students that this Government sees education as one of the most important responsibilities in Cabinet.

Keegan joins the Department for Education from the Foreign Office, where she served for six weeks as Secretary of State for Africa.

She was previously health minister with responsibility for care and mental health during the second half of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as minister for apprenticeships and skills.

In July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed her to lead the government require evidence of what should be included in the Down Syndrome Act statutory guidelines.

“It is vital that these guidelines are fit for purpose so that we can ensure that people with Down syndrome can access the support they need to thrive in their community,” she told the Daily Express at the time.

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Special educational needs and disability funding is an issue “close to my heart”, she said earlier, as the aunt of someone with Down’s syndrome. In 2020, she warned that special schools in her constituency were struggling with enrollment and needed funding to expand.

Investment was also top of mind for union leaders when Keegan took on her new role.

“When chancellor, Rishi Sunak was the architect of a grossly inadequate support package for the post-pandemic recovery of education and refused to fully fund pay rises that in any case did not keep pace with inflation,” Boustead said.

“He has also presided over years of real cuts to school and college funding, which makes the job of chiefs much more difficult.

“It can only be hoped that the new Education Minister is aware of these issues and will fight for the corner of beleaguered staff as well as parents and pupils.”

For ASCL, Barton said: “We would urge [Keegan] to focus on what matters most, ensuring that schools and colleges have enough money, teachers and support staff to provide the education that children and young people need and deserve.

“Without these essential resources, all other ambitions and goals are meaningless and educational standards are at risk.”

I know that talent is equally spread across the country and I will work tirelessly to ensure that the opportunity also – Gillian Keegan

Gillian Keegan Story:

Born 13 March 1968 in Leigh, Lancashire

Attended primary school in Yorkshire before moving to Knowsley, Merseyside

Went to a comprehensive high school – St Augustine of Canterbury, Houghton – before leaving at 16 with 10 O levels

After becoming an apprentice at a local electronics factory, she received funding to study business at Liverpool John Moores University and later received a Masters on a Sloan Scholarship at the London Business School

Before entering Parliament in 2017, Keegan spent almost 30 years living and working in the manufacturing, banking and IT sectors.