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‘Premier League bosses have a longer lifespan’

Justine Greening leaves Downing Street on Monday night
Justine Greening leaves Downing Street on Monday night

‘In my 30 years in education we have had 18 Secretaries of State – Premier League football managers last longer than that’.

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Andy Mellor

Andy Mellor

Andy Mellor has seen his fair share of upheaval in his lifetime as a teacher.

But now as Vice President of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) all he wants is stability.

That hope is under threat – again – after the latest Cabinet reshuffle which has seen Justine Greening potted as Education Secretary when she refused to become Work and Pensions Secretary.

She went to a comprehensive school in working class Rotherham and was an outspoken supporter of improving social mobility.

She has been replaced by Damian Hinds, who went to a grammar school in leafy Altrincham before being educated at Oxford.

And Andy, headteacher at St Nicholas CE Primary in Marton, feels great progress under Greening could now be damaged due to moving the pawns on the political chess board.

He says: “There is no stability and we have had 18 Education Secretaries in the 30 years I have been involved.

“You have more chance of staying in post as a Premier League manager than in that Cabinet role. We all know as football fans that if you keep making changes to your management team in football you tend to get relegated.

“We had a really good working relationship with Justine Greening – she was someone that understood the system and understood places like Blackpool and the North West.

“She understood where our kids came from.

“She was driven by improving social mobility and she was one of the few Education Secretaries to come to Blackpool and work with us in the opportunity area we are trying to create.

“The level of churn in this post is not good for schools or children.

“We welcome Damian Hinds to education and look forward to developing the profession.

“He cannot fully relate to our children yet and it will take time to build relationships, no matter how good he is.

“It seems to me that Justine Greening paid for not necessarily toeing the party line and I am personally gutted to see her go.”

And he has urged the Government’s new incumbent not to start his new role with a bang.

“New Secretaries of State often feel that new announcements are obligatory,” he says.

“In 2018, where budgets are at breaking point and recruitment is still a massive challenge, education does not need more upheaval.”

Ms Greening quit following a refusal to be switched to the Department for Work and Pensions after fighting her corner in Downing Street for two hours.

She entered the Cabinet in 2011 at the age of 42, becoming the fifth female member of the 23-strong top team.

In her role as education secretary she said she wanted to make sure every child had a chance in life, striving for social mobility.

Speaking at a Social Mobility Commission conference last March, Ms Greening said much more needed to be done to create a level playing field for all youngsters to ensure they could live up to their potential.

After quitting the Government, Ms Greening tweeted: “Social mobility matters to me and our country more than my ministerial career.

“I’ll continue to do everything I can to create a country that has equality of opportunity for young people and I’ll keep working hard as MP for Putney.”

The job Ms Greening turned down, Work and Pensions Secretary, was given instead to Esther McVey, who triggered controversy when she was a junior minister in the department under David Cameron.

Shortly after entering Parliament, Mr Hinds was elected to the Education Select Committee and served until October 2012.

Damian Hinds was elected Conservative MP for East Hampshire in May 2010, and appointed minister of state for the Department of Work and Pensions in July 2016.

Jeremy Corbyn told a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party that the reshuffle was a “pointless and lacklustre” PR stunt.