Labour’s new education team is “rooted in the real world”, says shadow education secretary Angela Rayner in an apparent swipe at the government education line-up.
Rayner, who stays on following a reshuffle of the Labour frontbench, said the party would be able to draw on the “really solid and direct experience” of new shadow ministers Mike Kane, Emma Lewell-Buck and Tulip Siddiq.
Kane, a former primary teacher, is the new shadow schools minister, while Lewell-Buck, who worked as a social worker, has taken on the children and families brief.
Siddiq, an ex-charity worker and political consultant, will work on early years, while further and higher education shadow Gordon Marsden and House of Lords representative Lord Watson remain in their roles.
Rayner said her team was a “stark contrast” to the government benches. Education secretary Justine Greening is a former accountant, while Nick Gibb and Edward Timpson were lawyers before they entered parliament. Lord Nash and Caroline Dinenage both worked in business.
We will be able to draw on really solid and direct experience of the classroom and teaching
“We will be able to draw on really solid and direct experience of the classroom and teaching, working with vulnerable children, and topnotch campaigning talent that will enable us to oppose government policy at every turn,” Rayner said.
“It shows we mean business in putting forward a positive Labour alternative which will make a real difference for the education of our children.”
Kane, a former labourer who retrained to be a teacher as a mature student and taught at Springfield primary in Greater Manchester, has served as the MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East since 2014.
“I know the difference a good teacher, with the right support and resources can make to a child’s attainment and aspiration,” he told Schools Week.
“I look forward to working with parents, teachers and schools across the UK to hold the government to account and to ensure we have a school system that is fit for purpose.
“At my first education questions this week I had the opportunity to tackle the minister on excessive workload as highlighted by the Education Policy Institute and the ill health this is causing the profession.”
Greening’s Monday grilling was not the first she has faced as secretary of state, but the first since April with a full complement of shadow ministers on the Labour benches.
Rayner took over the education brief in July after a turbulent few weeks with the resignations of Lucy Powell and Pat Glass.
She has since risen to national prominence as the main voice of opposition to the government’s plans for new grammar schools.