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All change at the DfE?

All change at the DfE?

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Yesterday’s news that Michael Gove was no longer Secretary of State for Education and the subsequent announcement of Nicky Morgan as his replacement took most people – commentators, teachers, governors, politicians – by surprise. This apparently included Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, despite indications that the now former SoS had effectively been in his new role as Chief Whip for more than a fortnight:

To his possible surprise, Michael Wilshaw might feel he is in a stronger position at the end of the summer term – after his clash with Mr Gove over the background to the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair in Birmingham schools, opinion was divided over which of the two emerged the stronger, with claims of a climb down further complicated by controversy over who might be appointed as the chair of Ofsted.

Back in the Department for Education, what could be seen as a potential shift in policy direction is highly unlikely to be such a thing. If a Member of Parliament’s voting record can be used as an accurate barometer of their approach once in charge of a particular government department, then the new Secretary of State’s voting record on Education indicates that there will be no great change in the overall direction of policy under the Coalition. Former Gove adviser Sam Freedman is convinced that there will be no changes to policy, as evidenced by the return to the Department of former Schools Minister Nick Gibb – for anyone interested in what might happen in the rest of this parliamentary term the responses to Freedman’s tweet regarding this are worth reading.

In the midst of all this change, potential for change, and possible stasis, what are the implications for Governors? It’s almost certainly “as you were” – the role of Governors was at the forefront of Mr Gove’s mind on occasion, particularly at the launch of the Inspiring Governors initiative:

Some of those comments were described by the NGA as ill-judged, even if they were subsequently clarified. Meanwhile, in the other corner, the still-standing HMCI has said he is in favour of mandatory training for school governors and it is hard to think that an incoming Secretary of State new to the the Education brief would contradict this – indeed it could be a policy for a new incumbent, eager to make a mark while in Cabinet, to pursue.

Mandatory or not, the Modern Governor modules will of course continue to be updated to reflect policy & legislative changes, independent of whoever is calling the shots from Westminster. To her credit the new Secretary of State has spent a day in a school as part of a work-shadowing programme – how would a campaign for her to become a school governor, or at least to attend meetings of a local Governing Body for a year, be received?


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