Could the next education secretary be Nick Gibb?

Please don’t panic. In truth, the minister of state for school standards could prove to be the stability candidate, says Ed Dorrel in Tes

As speculation continues about whether Justine Greening will be kept on as education secretary in a forthcoming cabinet reshuffle, gossip is rife about who might replace her.

On first visitation, this idea does seem slightly unlikely: this was the politician who as schools minister was fired by the coalition government before making an improbable comeback to more or less the same job less than two years later.

But bear me out, firstly, on why this idea isn’t as unlikely as it first seems – and secondly on why the king of harder Sats, phonic checks and times tables tests might not be such a bad idea for schools.

Firstly, it has been well-briefed that there are those in the Conservative Party’s ranks who think that Ms Greening needs replacing because she has apparently gone soft on the education’s “blob”: the collective Govian noun for teacher training establishments, the unions and the teaching profession in general. She is, it would seem, failing to uphold the Govian legacy.

In addition, it is believed that No 10 is keen to promote a political line about improvements in school standards – and there’s even talk of a major prime-ministerial speech on the subject. This is totally Mr Gibb’s schtick – look at his job title – and even more so since last month when he has basked in the glory of his phonics check being credited with pushing UK schools up the Pirls international literacy rankings.

If Ms May were to promote Mr Gibb there would, of course, be harder language about demanding higher standards. He’d likely attack the classroom unions in a speech or two and he would certainly ensure that the times-tables tests become an established part of life in primary schools. But in practice, he would more than likely represent stability – albeit with a little extra combative language.

Read more Could the next education secretary be Nick Gibb?

What do you think? Would he do a better job than Justine Greening?  Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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