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Bridget Phillipson appointed Education Secretary

Bridget Phillipson has been appointed Secretary of State for Education by Sir Keir Starmer, following Labour’s victory at the general election.

The appointment will see Phillipson, the MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, retain the brief she held before the election when she was the opposition counterpart to previous Education Secretary Gillian Keegan.

Keegan, a Conservative, was one of 12 Cabinet-ranking government ministers to lose their seats at the election, being defeated in her constituency of Chichester by the Liberal Democrats.

The Education Secretary is responsible for administering the Department for Education, which oversees the country’s schools, national curriculum, higher education, and all other educational matters.

In government, Phillipson will likely be tasked with overseeing Labour’s proposed reforms to the sector – notably, the manifesto commitment to scrap VAT exemptions for private schools and a pledge to introduce free breakfast clubs in primary education.

As a child, Phillipson was on free school meals – a first for an Education Secretary

Labour has previously described education as amongst the party’s main priorities, deeming it one of their “five missions” for government. In this capacity, Phillipson was a prominent face of the election campaign, and she is likely to now be a key figure in the new government.

The new minister, 40, was first elected to Parliament in 2010 and has served in the Labour shadow cabinet since 2020. As a child, Phillipson was on free school meals – a first for an Education Secretary.

Having grown up in conditions that the MP herself described as “on the margins”, she went on to read History and Modern Languages at Oxford, where she was Co-Chair of the Oxford University Labour Club.

Now, Phillipson will be tasked with the responsibility for all of Britain’s universities and the daunting array of challenges facing them: chiefly, a looming university funding crisis and a student loans system criticised as being increasingly unworkable.

For her part, the minister has called the university funding system “clearly broken” and advocated for it to be replaced – though she has so far remained coy as to her exact plans for this.

We pledged change, and we will deliver the most crucial changes of all: High and rising standards. More opportunity. The best life chances for all children

Bridget Phillipson, Education Secretary

In a post on X made after her appointment, Phillipson said: “I am honoured to have been asked to serve as Secretary of State for Education. We pledged change, and we will deliver the most crucial changes of all: High and rising standards / More opportunity / The best life chances for all children.

“That work starts now.”

Aside from Education, Westminster saw a flurry of appointments on Friday, as the new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, assembled his Cabinet for government.

Notably, Rachel Reeves was confirmed as the UK’s first female Chancellor of the Exchequer, whilst Angela Rayner was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister, as well as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities.


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