Gillian Keegan becomes fifth education secretary in four months

She replaces Kit Malthouse, who departed the role earlier today

She replaces Kit Malthouse, who departed the role earlier today

Former skills minister Gillian Keegan has become the fifth education secretary in four months.

She replaces Kit Malthouse, who departed the role earlier today.

Elected to Parliament for the West Sussex seat of Chichester in 2017, Keegan served as a junior minister for apprenticeships and skills between 2020 and 2021, and then as a minister of state in the health department from 2021 to this September.

She became a junior Foreign Office minister last month, with responsibility for Africa.

Tweeting this evening, Keegan said she was “deeply honoured to have been appointed… Education transforms lives – I know that talent is spread equally around the country and I will work tirelessly to ensure opportunity is also.”

In a statement, she added she knew “how important education is to levelling up opportunities and helping people to build the life they want”.

“From childcare support and helping children in care, to improving school standards and giving both young people and adults the skills they need to get great jobs.”

Born in Leigh, Lancashire, she went to primary school in Yorkshire before moving to Knowsley, Merseyside.

She became an apprentice at the age of 16 and was sponsored to study a degree in business at Liverpool John Moores University.

She worked in manufacturing, banking and IT, and served as chief marketing officer for a travel technology company.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said, welcomed Keegan, but said the “revolving door shows a complete disregard for the importance of what should be a key government post and it must stop.

PROFILE: Our sister title FE Week speaks to then-skills minister Keegan in 2020

“Education matters more than this. It is a vital public service. Schools and colleges deserve stable political leadership which addresses the crucial issues of inadequate funding and severe staff shortages caused by a government which has undervalued the workforce and sapped its morale.”

Keegan has her work cut out. Top priorities will be tackling school funding woes, worsening teacher recruitment and impending strike action.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, added: “With the ‘Halloween Budget’ looming – and further cuts implied by new prime minister Rishi Sunak – the new education secretary has just days to get to grips with the reality of the situation facing schools, listen to the profession, and make a compelling case to the Treasury for the funding so urgently needed.

“School leaders will be hopeful that in Gillian Keegan we might now finally have an education secretary who understands that education should be seen not as a drain on the nation’s finances, but as the best investment that can be made in our country’s future – and who stays the course to the next election to make education a priority for this government again.”

More from this theme


Robert Halfon resigns as skills minister

Former education committee chair will also stand down as an MP at the election

Billy Camden

Ark stands by chair Sir Paul Marshall over social media activity

The Conservative donor has been accused of liking and sharing extremist posts

Freddie Whittaker

Phillipson invokes zeal of Gove reforms in Labour schools vision

Former minister brought 'energy and drive and determination' that is required again, says shadow education secretary

Samantha Booth

Government ‘not governing’ as schools policies in limbo

Schools Week analysis finds at least 21 policies promised for this year have yet to materialise

Samantha Booth

Hinds: ‘I was wrong’ on teacher golden handcuffs

Schools minister also reveals changes to the early career framework and more details on non-grad teaching apprenticeship

Freddie Whittaker

Damian Hinds returns to DfE as schools minister

Appointment follows resignation of schools minister Nick Gibb

Freddie Whittaker

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *