So, staff numbers at the DfE are to be cut by a quarter and the remainder will focus ruthlessly on ministers' priorities.
This is disturbing news for three reasons. First, since 2010 we have already seen an exodus of experienced and effective staff – through redundancy, new jobs and retirement.
There is an ever-diminishing number of "experts" in the DfE who have a deep understanding of such technical issues as school admissions, special needs and place planning. That's a real worry as local authority and academy staff work through the implications and implementation of new legislation. You can't just expect people to read the primary legislation and get on with it – there will be a field day for lawyers and consultants.
Second, the cull of DFE staff will, as widely reported, impact on the disabled, ethnic minorities and older workers. So we will have e a civil service even fuller of white, middle-class men below the age of 50...
Third, it will increasingly become impossible to get anything out of the DfE that is not a ministerial priority. Forget what the law says; if it's not a ministerial priority then you won't get an answer.
John Freeman is a consultant and a former director of children's services