Meet the fresh faces that count

June 15, 2001

Estelle Morris
Secretary of state for education and skills

Estelle Morris is likely to bring a "straight-talking breath of fresh air" to higher education policy, according to an academic who has known her since she was a student.

Jim Campbell, director of Warwick University's Institute of Education, taught Ms Morris, who took a BEd at the university. Describing her as "a Blairite before Blair", Professor Campbell said that she possessed a no-nonsense authenticity.

Professor Campbell said: "Vice-chancellors will be in for a surprise if they think she will be easy to fool."

It is expected that the former education and school standards minister's experiences as a non-traditional student - she failed her A levels before qualifying through further education college and university to become a teacher - will make her particularly sympathetic to widening participation.
Her interest in the US education system and in the potential for stronger links between education and industry may also prove significant for universities and colleges.

As the minister responsible for steering a difficult path to introduce performance pay for classroom teachers and in tackling poor local authority services, she has proven she can be tough.

Margaret Hodge
Minister for lifelong learning and higher education

With a background in confronting deprivation, Margaret Hodge is well placed to ensure a university education for more young people from poorer neighbourhoods.

She has made clear in the past, however, her belief that weak exam results rather than financial circumstances prevent people from poor backgrounds from entering higher education.

Her appointment as minister with special responsibility for universities follows her success as minister with special responsibility for under-fives. She oversaw the expansion of nursery education and the introduction of Sure Start, which provides health and education support for children and parents in England's poorest areas.

Ms Hodge, MP for Barking since winning a byelection in 1994, will be expected to tackle the pay gap between male and female academics, another task for which she should be well-prepared. She was responsible for equal opportunities in the Department for Education and Employment.

Educated at the London School of Economics, Ms Hodge would have been a contemporary of the former higher education minister, Baroness Blackstone, who was completing her PhD at the time.

Baroness Blackstone became arts minister in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in this week's reshuffle.

John Healey
Parliamentary secretary with responsibility for further education and lifelong learning

John Healey will bring the experience of working as a tutor for the Open University's Business School to his role.

A graduate of Christ's College, Cambridge, Mr Healey was elected in 1997 to Wentworth, one of the safest Labour seats, where he attracted more than 57 per cent of votes.

Further education and lifelong learning stand to benefit from his knowledge of the workings of the Treasury. Mr Healey has been parliamentary private secretary to Gordon Brown for the past two years.

Before entering parliament, Mr Healey worked as campaigns director for the Trades Union Congress.

Ivan Lewis
Parliamentary secretary with responsibility for 14 to 19 education

At 34, Ivan Lewis is relatively young to become a junior minister. He avoided universit#y and was educated at Bury College of Further Education.

He lists education among his interests, particularly the tension between grammar schools and comprehensives. He attended a grammar school - William Hulme's in Manchester.

Mr Lewis won Bury South for Labour from the Conservatives in 1997 and was parliamentary private secretary to Stephen Byers when he was head of the Department of Trade and Industry. In the last parliament, he was a member of two House of Commons select committees, on deregulation and health.

Stephen Timms
Minister of schools

Stephen Timms has bagged what the prime minister's spokesman dubbed the "key post of schools minister", adding that Mr Timms "had had two very challenging jobs in his short ministerial career and had impressed in both".

Since winning his East Ham seat in 1997, Mr Timms has served as pensions minister and financial secretary to the Treasury. In the latter role, he championed  private finance
in public sector projects.

Mr Timms is a member of the Plaistow Christian Fellowship and a former vice-chairman of the Christian Socialist Movement.

Baroness Ashton
Minister for education and skills


John Hutton , minister of state, with responsibility for medical training and workforce planning as well as nursing recruitment and retention.

Jacqui Smith , former schools standards minister, has moved to become a health minister, and is expected to take over responsibility for social care.

Hazel Blears , junior health minister.

Yvette Cooper , junior health minister.

Lord Hunt , junior health minister.

A detailed list of ministerial responsibilities is yet to be announced.

Science minister Lord Sainsbury remains in his post.

Lib dems

Liberal Democrat spokesman for higher education Evan Harris has been promoted to spokesman for health. His replacement was still to be announced as The THES went to press. Education spokesman Phil Willis remains in post.

Election 2001 index page

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