Vicky Ford named as children and families minister

Conservative MP for Chelmsford Vicky Ford has been named as the new children's minister.

Vicky Ford has been appointed children and families minister. Picture: Parliament UK
Vicky Ford has been appointed children and families minister. Picture: Parliament UK

Ford, who was elected to parliament in 2017, has previously been a member of both the the science and technology and women and equalities select committees.

Her appointment comes after Michelle Donelan was made universities minister last week. Donelan had been covering for Kemi Badenoch, who is on maternity leave, but has been moved to the role of junior equalities minister.

Prior to entering Westminster, Ford was member of the European Parliament for the East of England constituency between 2009 and 2017.

Writing on Twitter, she said she was "deeply honoured" to have been appointed children and families minister.

"Much to learn and lots to do!" she added.

Ford has previously spoken in parliament on a number of issues relating to children and young people.

In June last year she called on then Chancellor Sajid Javid to ensure schools get financial support to run anti-gang programmes.

"The experience of the local police in Chelmsford is that once a young person is in a gang they become indoctrinated and indebted to the gang, and it is hard to turn that round.

"It is therefore better to invest in prevention, and the role of schools is vital."

She has also spoken about the issue of funding for children's services, referencing improvements to provision in Essex.

"[It is the] second largest provider of children’s services by head of population. It has gone from being a failed children’s service in 2010 to now being ranked outstanding by Ofsted, despite there being less money going into the service, but because of a focus on early intervention and partnership working."

Vicky Ford - in profile

  • Constituency: Chelmsford
  • Majority in December 2019 election: 17,621
  • Previous roles: member of the European Parliament for the East of England constituency between 2009 and 2017
  • Committees: Science and Technology Committee; Women and Equalities Committee; European Statutory Instruments

Voting history:

  • New Clause 10 of the Brexit Bill - requiring the UK to seek negotiations to continue full membership of Erasmus+ - against.
  • Ensuring the rights of child refugees after Brexit - against 
  • Largely retaining the EU "Charter of Fundamental Rights" after Brexit - against 
  • Increasing university tuition fees - for 
  • Mandatory sex and relations education - for 

She has also previously backed a campaign by The Children's Society and 12 other children’s charities, for the creation of a cross-governmental body to develop a coordinated response for vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds who are in need, but not taken into care, because of domestic violence, mental health, substance misuse, going missing from home, sexual and other forms of exploitation.

Speaking at the time of the launch, she said: “It is of real concern that vulnerable young people, especially 16- and 17-year-olds, often find themselves overlooked and missing from priority support. This group is at the heart of some of the biggest social policy issues we face today such as criminal and sexual exploitation or being drawn into youth violence or homelessness.

"Evidence shows us that where local authorities and other agencies work together to identify vulnerable children and intervene early, this can have a dramatic and positive improvement on the lives of young people. Early intervention strategies are working in areas like Manchester and Essex. To support our children it is vital that a joined up approach using best practice is adopted more widely across the country.”

Ford is the fifth person to hold the role of children's minister in less than three years.

Following the departure of Edward Timpson, who lost his seat in parliament at the 2017 general election having served in the role for five years, the position has been held by Robert Goodwill, Nadhim Zahawi, Kemi Badenoch, and Michelle Donelan.

Other Department for Education appointments

Donelan, who is MP for Chippenham, was named as a minister of state in the Department for Education (DfE) on Friday, with officials confirming her role as universities minister.

Her departmental responsibilities, which could include further education (FE) and skills, are yet to be officially confirmed.

The FE and skills brief has not had a dedicated minister since the resignation of Anne Milton in July.

The reshuffle saw the sacking of Chris Skidmore who served as universities and science minister across the DfE and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

It is the first time since 2010 the brief has been split from science with a separate minister for science expected to be appointed.

Gavin Williamson, who took on the FE and skills brief last summer, was reappointed Education Secretary.

He will be joined in the new cabinet by Oliver Dowden, MP for Hertsmere, who replaces Nicky Morgan as culture secretary.

Nick Gibb has been reappointed as schools minister and is expected to take responsibility for early years, while Baroness Berridge has been appointed as a minister for education.

Lord Agnew has stepped down as academies minister.

The sector responds

Responding to the reshuffle announcements, the Early Years Alliance said it hoped Williamson would be actively involved in discussions about the future of the sector, particularly ahead of this year’s Budget and Spending Review.

Neil Leitch, the alliance’s chief executive said: “All too often, education is seen as something that starts at the school gates.

“As such, we look forward to continuing to work with the Education Secretary, demonstrating to him the value of the early years and making the case for greater government support and investment going forward.”

The Association of Colleges said the upcoming budget would give the newly appointed Chancellor Rishi Sunak an opportunity to make colleges the “catalyst for change” in the country’s left-behind towns.

David Hughes, the association’s chief executive, said a “world-class technical and vocational” education system was needed to allow the UK to compete on a global scale.

“Colleges are ready to support the skills needs of major infrastructure projects such as HS2, the quest for carbon net zero, the NHS and care services and many other sector needs, but can only do that with the right investment.

“After a decade of neglect, the new Chancellor now has the chance to maximise the opportunities for everyone to achieve their potential and ensure no one is left behind.

“Proper investment in technical education and the skills system will help boost productivity, support young people and adults to get on in work and life and help employers to get the skilled people they need. To achieve that, this budget must deliver on our recommendations and invest in colleges,” he said.