Gillian Keegan becomes fifth education secretary in four months

The former skills minister replaces Kit Malthouse

The former skills minister replaces Kit Malthouse

25 Oct 2022, 17:39

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Former skills minister Gillian Keegan has been appointed education secretary by new prime minister Rishi Sunak.

She becomes the fifth person to hold the role in just four months.

Keegan replaces Kit Malthouse who left as education secretary today.

She said: “It is a privilege to be appointed secretary of state for education. 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 href=httpsfeweekcoukprofile gillian keegan target= blank rel=noopener title=READ MORE FE Weeks profile of Gillian Keegan>READ MORE FE Weeks profile of Gillian Keegan<a>

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.

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. Keegan became well known in the sector and parliament for regularly reminding everyone she was herself a former apprentice.

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

During her time as skills minister Keegan helped oversee the launch of the FE white paper and skills bill, the initial rollout of T Levels, and skills bootcamps.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, 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”.

“Education matters more than this. It is a vital public service,” he added. “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.”

The education secretary merry-go-round

Nadhim Zahawi, September 15, 2021 to July 5: 293 days

Michelle Donelan, July 5 to July 7: two days

James Cleverly, July 7 to September 6: 61 days

Kit Malthouse, September 6 to October 25: 49 days

Average time as education secretary (since 1941): 764 days

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