Corbyn names Lucy Powell shadow education secretary

Jess Brown
Monday, September 14, 2015

New Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Lucy Powell shadow education secretary.

Powell, MP for Manchester Central since November 2012, replaces Tristram Hunt, who held the post since 2013.

“It's a role I'm passionate about and where I hope to make a difference," Powell, who had backed Andy Burnham for Labour leader, said on Twitter.

Powell's most recent role within the Labour Party was to co-ordinate the 2015 general election campaign.

Prior to this she also spent time as shadow childcare and early years minister.

In an interview with CYP Now following her appointment to that position, Powell, who has two young children and a stepson, said she was "only too well aware of the issues facing parents".

"My priorities are to get out there to talk to mums and dads about the sector and the issues they are facing," she said.

"The key issue for most parents, as it always has been, is currently around cost and quality [of childcare]."

She has also been vocal in the past on the closure of children's centres.

"What most parents are angry with David Cameron about is the pledge he gave during the general election that Sure Start children's centres would be safe under his government," she said.

"What we've seen is many Sure Start children's centres closing and being mothballed and that's because David Cameron talks a good talk but it's not followed through."

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey), said Powell has previously been supportive of childcare and early years in her previous time as a shadow education minister.

"We very much look forward to working with her and her team on a wide range of issues at this crucial time in early years education; not least in ensuring the planned expansion in free early years entitlement has sufficient funding and in joining us in our call for a comprehensive workforce strategy to help early years professionals develop throughout their careers," she said.  

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “With the Childcare Bill currently on its way through parliament, now is a critical time for honest and open discussions about the future of the early years sector.

"We at the Alliance look forward to working with representatives from across the political parties to ensure the development of child-focused, evidence-based, sustainable early years policy.”

Powell's appointment as shadow education secretary comes despite her admittance on Twitter last month that she had never met Corbyn before.

Alongside Powell, Corbyn has also appointed his close ally John McDonnell as shadow chancellor, while Andy Burnham is shadow home secretary, Hilary Benn remains shadow foreign secretary, and Angela Eagle is shadow business secretary.

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