Of course, for me, the departure of Michael Gove has to be the highlight of the Tory reshuffle, but for the youth sector I guess the appointment of Brooks Newmark in place of Nick Hurd has to be the most significant change. Reading about his interests it is clear he has had some contact and some understanding of the sector. However, I still fear that the move of Youth Work into the Cabinet Office has resulted in the sidelining many of us felt would be the result.
If he is to do a good job in the time he has left I would suggest that the first thing Brooks must do is listen to the whole of the sector, take advice from Tim Loughton, and reflect on what needs to happen in order to strengthen both the voluntary and local authority service and to seriously consider whether the time has come for a statutory Youth Service.
The media was full of the promotion of women, but let’s not get too excited. The representation is only back to where it was in 2011. And to be honest, when all the likes of the Daily Mail have to say about such women has to do with their fashion sense and the size of their heels – I despair at how far we have really come. Cameron promised to have a third of his cabinet female, but frankly, when three of them are only there as observers, I think it is the height of spin to suggest he has done that.
I don’t know enough about Nicky Morgan to know what impact she may or may not have on the Gove-free zone which is now the DfE – but I trust she will not be a zealot intent on an “if it moves reform it” – again, I trust she will be someone who will listen, particularly to teachers and pupils who clearly have far more idea about what change is needed. One of the issues I hope she will consider seriously, is improving outcomes for looked-after children.
I suppose my overall impression of this reshuffle is that it seems to have little to do with appointing people with the right knowledge and expertise for the job and far more to do with creating the “right” image.
Linda Jack is a member of the Parliamentary Policy Committee for Education, Young People and Families, and former member of the Federal Policy Committee