One of the major shocks from today’s reshuffle was the departure of education secretary Michael Gove and the news he will be replaced by Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan.
During his four years in office, Gove proved a divisive figure in the social work community through his radical reforms of adoption and social work, and more recently his decision to give local authorities the power to outsource children’s services functions.
But the Department for Education will now be run by Nicky Morgan MP, one of two new women to join the cabinet. So, just who is Nicky Morgan?
Morgan, 41, is the Conservative MP for Loughborough, a position she has held since the 2010 General Election. Morgan attended a private secondary school in Surrey before studying law at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. She joined the Conservative party in 1989, but worked as a solicitor, specialising in corporate law, from 1994 until her election in 2010.
Meet Mark Harper: new disability minister
Another reshuffle move relevant to social care is the appointment of Mark Harper as minister for disabled people at the Department of Work and Pensions. The move marks a return to government for Harper, who quit as immigration minister earlier this year after admitting employing an illegal immigrant as a cleaner. Prior to the 2010 election, he was the Conservative party’s shadow minister for disabled people.
Following her election, Morgan was the parliamentary private secretary to the cabinet minister for universities and science until 2012.
She then sat as assistant government whip until 2013, before becoming economic secretary and financial secretary to the treasury.
In April she became minister for women and equalities, a position she will hold adjacent to her new role as education secretary.
Upon her appointment, Morgan was already courting controversy for her vote against equal gay rights and her opposition to gay marriage. In the past she has voted against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long periods of time unemployed.
She has also voted strongly for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits, and against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability.
Morgan has also agreed with Gove’s stance on schooling, voting in line with greater autonomy, academy schools, raising the tuition fee cap and ending financial support for some 16-19-year-olds in training and further education.
Message to Morgan from the sector
Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University, advised Morgan to use her first few weeks in office for “review and reflection”, admitting he hoped her appointment would halt some of Gove’s more controversial plans, such as outsourcing child protection services.