Politics

Michelle Donelan: 11 facts about the new education secretary

The ex-universities minister has stepped up to succeed her former boss Nadhim Zahawi

The ex-universities minister has stepped up to succeed her former boss Nadhim Zahawi

Downing Street has announced that Michelle Donelan is the new education secretary, after her predecessor and former boss Nadhim Zahawi was promoted to be the chancellor.

Here’s what we know about her…

  1. Born in 1984, Donelan is 38 years old, making her the second youngest person to hold the role. The youngest was Ruth Kelly, who was 36 when she was appointed in 2004.
  2. Donelan is the MP for Chippenham in Wiltshire. She is the first MP elected in 2015 to hold the role of education secretary. Her predecessors Zahawi, Gavin Williamson and Damian Hinds were all first elected in 2010, as was Nicky Morgan, while Justine Greening and Michael Gove were first elected in 2005.
  3. She is the third education secretary to serve this academic year, after Williamson and Zahawi. Her predecessor was the shortest-serving education secretary, with nine months under his belt, since Patrick Walker, who served for just seven in the late-1960s.
  4. Donelan was born in Cheshire, but is far from the first education secretary to hail from the north west. Other ed secs from that neck of the woods include Estelle Morris, George Tomlinson and Ellen Wilkinson.
  5. She was educated at the comprehensive County High School in Leftwich, which is now an academy. But she isn’t the first education secretary to be educated at a comprehensive school. Greening claimed that prize fairly recently, in 2016.
  6. The new education secretary has spoken out in opposition to grammar schools, asking in 2016 how proposals to allow more selective schools would “prevent those who do not make the grade from being stigmatised and disincentivised”.
  7. Donelan studied history and politics at the University of York, before going into a career in marketing. She worked at Marie Claire magazine and for World Wrestling Entertainment. The latter, she says, proves “a bit too popular” in school democracy clubs she runs in her area.
  8. She has been interested in politics from a young age, reportedly saying she has wanted to be a politician since she was six years old. She spoke at the Conservative Party conference in 1999, at the age of 15.
  9. The MP has already served in a number of roles at the Department for Education. She was acting children’s minister providing maternity cover from 2019 to 2020, then served as universities minister until 2021, when she became minister for higher and further education, also attending cabinet. Donelan also served on the education select committee from 2017 to 2019.
  10. As universities minister, Donelan has championed the issue of free speech and “academic freedom” on campus, recently urging universities to reconsider their membership of a race equality charter, and complained of “professors being harangued and hounded out of their jobs”.
  11. In her maiden speech, the new education secretary spoke about social mobility, and has said she was the first in her family to “finish university”. She also uses the phrase “opportunities for all” on her website, very similar to the name of the recent schools white paper, which it is now her job to champion.

Latest education roles from

Exam Access Arrangements Adviser (Student Services)

Exam Access Arrangements Adviser (Student Services)

Barnet and Southgate College

Lecturer in Marine Electrical

Lecturer in Marine Electrical

Bournemouth and Poole College

Instructor / Technician in Marine

Instructor / Technician in Marine

Bournemouth and Poole College

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Satis Education

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Ark Greenwich Free School

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspire creativity in your classroom. Sky Arts’ Access All Arts week is back!

Now in its third year, Access All Arts week is a nationwide celebration of creativity for primary schools (17-21...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Unleash the Power of Sport in your setting this summer! National School Sports Week is back!

Unleash the Power of Sport this summer with National School Sports Week powered by Monster Kickabout! From 17-23 June,...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Politics

Robert Halfon resigns as skills minister

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

Billy Camden
Politics

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
Politics

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
Politics

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

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

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

2 Comments

  1. Loraine Gleave

    What are your teaching qualifications!!
    Did you go to a State or Private School.
    Are you aware of how many hours teachers work outside the classroom(NOT A CLUE!!)
    I used to take my reports to complete on holiday.
    Please speak to teachers & LA’s(if you know what they are)

  2. Chris kirk

    Please make your mark by not trying to make your mark. Changing the curriculum, assessment systems, school organisation, pay ,governance, etc. Etc. Teachers adore. Do them all together as 25 hour days are fashionable!
    One of two teachers know a little bit about education. Try asking them and not management / inspectors!