As revealed exclusively by Schools Week, Angela Rayner is Labour’s third shadow education secretary this week. Here’s what we know about her…
She was born in Stockport in 1980. At 36, she is the youngest person to hold the role of shadow education secretary since it was created (as shadow secretary of state for education and science) in 1973. Pat Glass, who was appointed on Monday and served until Wednesday, was the oldest. Two records in one week. What a time to be alive.
Her background is in social care and the trade union movement. She worked for Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council as a care worker for elderly people in their homes. She says she joined a union because of the conditions she saw during the decade she worked in that profession. She subsequently went on to work for UNISON, becoming its convener for the north west.
Rayner has spoken of the hardship of growing up on a council estate and being pregnant as a teenager. She has speculated in interviews that she is likely to be the only MP in the commons to have fallen pregnant at the age of 16.
She has served on the Labour frontbench continuously since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. Rayner was appointed as an opposition whip and as shadow pensions minister last September, roles she continued in until she was promoted to shadow minister for women and equalities on Monday. It’s not known if she’ll keep this role as well as her new education brief.
She has described herself as a “close friend” of the murdered MP Jo Cox. Rayner has recently pledged to fight racism and against the abuse of MPs and others seen in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
Rayner is the first woman to represent Ashton-under-Lyne in Parliament in 180 years. She was first elected last May and has a majority of more than 10,000.
She is one of several recent shadow education secretaries with Greater Manchester constituencies. Lucy Powell, who quit on Sunday, is the MP for Manchester Central and Andy Burnham, who served in the post for a year until October 2011, represents Leigh.
She once used official House of Commons notepaper to complain about a pair of Star Wars-themed shoes. The letter to a shoe shop in Brighton where Rayner failed to get the sought-after footwear was leaked to the national press and she was accused of trying to use her position to intimidate the shop owner.