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Nicky Morgan passes her first test as Education Secretary

21 July 2014

3:53 PM

21 July 2014

3:53 PM

Nicky Morgan came to parliament today to praise Michael Gove, not to bury him: ‘It is a privilege,’ she said, ‘to follow him in this role.’

Her first outing as Education Secretary was an unqualified success. She plodded amiably where Michael Gove had dazzled; but, nonetheless, she was effective.

The Opposition launched a well-orchestrated attack on the issue of childcare costs and availability. Morgan repelled it with ease using a selection of statistics, studies and policy initiatives. She also sought to empathise with working parents. In response to a question about the availability of childcare from Labour’s Jamie Reed, Morgan said: ‘As a working parent, I sympathise’, and she went on to mount a defence of the government’s policy in this area, citing evidence that there are 100,000 more childcare places available than there were in 2009.

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But it was not all softly, softly from the new Secretary of State. There was no retreat on policy. Morgan made clear – and then reiterated – her ‘commitment to free schools’. And she had a little fun at Tristram Hunt’s expense: ‘I am not going take lessons… oh wait, he does give lessons, as an unqualified teacher.’ Clearly some of the old fires at the Department for Education still burn.

Morgan will have another outing tomorrow, when she will respond formally to the reports into the ‘Birmingham Trojan Horse’ saga. That will provide a sterner test than today’s rather gentle start.

The session also saw the return of Nick Gibb to the front bench. He was his old self: delighting in Ofsted’s view that free schools have been a success.

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  • swatnan

    Thats the way to do it Nicky!.
    Thank goodness the Gove era is dead and buried and we can get back to educating kids in schools doing a curriculum which is modern and taking exams that stretch but also take their special needs into account as well. What Gove wanted was a One Fit solutiion not diversity in Education.

  • In2minds

    Morgan and –

    “the ‘Birmingham Trojan Horse’ saga. That will provide a sterner test than today’s rather gentle start” –

    A local, an insider, has told me the rumour is she will disappoint.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Meh, most of these market rate talents can read off prepared lists of stats if they have a day or two of coaching. It’s generally a skill learnt when they first enter Parliament, not entirely unlike TV or radio presenters doing important interviews. The BBC and you media types might give real credence to what happens in these exchanges, but Morgan has yet to have her real first outing on anything that matters to voters.

  • McClane

    ‘Her first outing as Education Secretary was an unqualified success. She
    plodded amiably where Michael Gove had dazzled; but, nonetheless, she was effective.

    Mr Blackburn, I think you just qualified her success.

    • Kitty MLB

      She said it was a priviledge to follow Gove in this role
      (Once telling Cameron , she would prefer sports & media)
      This major role doesn’t need a ‘follower’ it needed a
      Sparking lighting rod of a dynamic leader and reformer and
      had that in Michael Gove.

  • dado_trunking

    A likable moddarate proggressive then.

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