Angela Rayner, the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne and a former care worker and union representative, has been appointed as the new shadow education secretary, Schools Week understands.
Sources in the Labour Party have confirmed that Rayner, who entered Parliament at the 2015 general election, has been promoted to the role at the head of the opposition front-bench team. She is the third politician to serve in the role since Sunday.
Rayner previously served as an opposition whip and shadow pensions minister in Labour’s frontbench team, but was promoted to the role of shadow women and equalities minister on Monday following a mass-exodus of MPs unhappy with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
It is not yet known if Rayner will continue to hold the women and equalities brief, a portfolio which Nicky Morgan holds in government alongside her duties as education secretary.
Lucy Powell, who had served as shadow education secretary since September, was one of 11 shadow cabinet members to resign on Sunday, and her replacement Pat Glass stepped down on Wednesday after just 50 hours in post.
Before she entered Parliament, Rayner worked for Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council as a care worker and subsequently served as convener of UNISON North West.
Rayner’s appointment may have been expedited in the face of concerns about Labour’s ability to scrutinise government education policy without a shadow secretary of state.
Ministers are due to take education questions from MPs on Monday afternoon in a session which would normally see the shadow education secretary take on Morgan directly at the despatch box.
It had been speculated that Gordon Marsden, who until this morning was the sole member of the Labour education team, would handle the session, or that Ian Austin, who gets frontbench speaking rights as chair of Labour’s education committee, might step in.