We have already revealed some thoughts on last week’s cabinet reshuffle from a science perspective, but what about education? As the education landscape continues to bear the brunt of a turbulent policy scene we have all the more reason to want to size up these demotions and promotions.
Ed Miliband’s appointment of Tristram Hunt as Shadow Education Minister will be particularly interesting. As Shadow Junior Education Minister, Hunt has already shown gall in his encounters with Michael Gove over the history curriculum, he has spoken up to praise Academies and also called Free Schools ‘vanity projects for yummy mummies’. He has upheld the strong Labour stance for the professionalization of the teaching workforce through qualification. However, there is little to gage Hunt’s opinion on science and mathematics education. After joining the Labour Party he did work as Special Adviser to Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, and his father, Julian Hunt, is a Fellow of the Royal Society and Professor at UCL – a sign, perhaps, that he will be more concerned with science in the curriculum. Hopefully, he will at the least begin revealing a little more on the details of Labour’s approach to education in his new post.
Meanwhile the Conservative party Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, Elizabeth Truss, will be staying at the Department for Education, despite whisperings in the media that she was in the running for a promotion – we have an inkling this is to do with her pivotal role in the development of the National Curriculum and steer on mathematics. Is there also a Conservative re-emphasis on skills to look out for? The ‘elevation’ of Matthew Hancock to Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise may be a response to Labour’s continued call for an improved and streamlined vocational qualifications sector. The consideration of employability and work-based learning will almost certainly drive debates in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
In other news, Dominic Cummings, frequently cited as the special adviser behind Michael Gove’s more controversial policies, has resigned in order to set-up a Free School.
We wait in anticipation to see how these changes will drive education policy and debate in 2014.