Nick Gibb and Robert Halfon return as education ministers

It is understood both will pick up their old jobs as new PM Rishi Sunak reportedly plans for a 'British Baccalaureate'

It is understood both will pick up their old jobs as new PM Rishi Sunak reportedly plans for a 'British Baccalaureate'

26 Oct 2022, 22:57

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Former schools minister Nick Gibb and education select committee chair Robert Halfon are both returning to the Department for Education

Gibb had served as schools minister for most of the last ten years before being sacked last year by Boris Johnson.

Halfon is also well known in the sector having served as chair of the education select committee since 2017. He was skills minister for a year before that.

Both return as ministers of state. Their roles are likely to be confirmed in the coming days.

Schools Week understands that Gibb will return to schools, with Halfon taking up a brief covering skills, an area he has been a huge advocate for.

DfE sources said current schools minister Jonathan Gullis and skills minister Andrea Jenkyns have left their roles, but there has been no official confirmation yet.

There has yet to be an appointment for the children’s minister role, currently held by Kelly Tolhurst.

It comes as new prime minister Rishi Sunak is reportedly planning education reforms including a new “British Baccalaureate’, which would require children to study a wider range of subjects in post-16 education, with English and maths compulsory.

He will also announce plans for a network of elite technical institutions, the Times reported.

However there is little time to deliver such largescale changes before the next election, in 2024. While Halfon has backed calls for a British Baccalaureate, the plans will not sit well with Gibb’s traditional education outlook.

The appointments mark a shift in experience at the department, whose ministers under Liz Truss had much less experience both as MPs and in senior roles.

Gibb said it was an “honour to be asked by the PM to return to the DfE. Looking forward to helping deliver the PM’s ambitious plans for ever higher standards in schools and world class technical education.”

Halfon also said it was an honour and is “looking forward to working with colleagues to deliver the Prime Minister’s exciting education & skills agenda to ensure every student can climb the educational ladder of opportunity”.

Former skills minister Gillian Keegan was appointed as education secretary yesterday.

She said today it was a “privilege… As a former apprentice and previous minister at the department, I know 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.

“I look forward to engaging with our brilliant nurseries, schools, colleges, universities and all the staff working across our sectors.”

A new education committee chair will now need to be appointed to replace Halfon.


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