Sarah Teather new minister for children and families

Former shadow children's minister Tim Loughton has been announced as a parliamentary under-secretary in the renamed Department for Education under the new coalition government.

The Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has become the new minister of state for children and families in the renamed Department for Education under the coalition government.

Tim Loughton, former Conservative shadow children’s minister, has become a junior minister for children and families. They join Michael Gove, as the new secretary of state for education, and Nick Gibb, as minister of state for schools.

Teather’s appointment has come as a surprise, having held the shadow brief for housing before the election. She was the youngest MP to be elected to Westminster when she gained her seat in 2003. She trained as a scientist at Cambridge and worked as an adviser on health and social policy for Macmillan Cancer Relief before entering parliament. She campaigned widely to get justice for one of her constituents held in Guantanamo Bay without trial including a vigil outside Downing Street. She previously held shadow briefs for education, universities and business.

Loughton’s appointment is likely to be welcomed within the sector as he has been shadow children’s minister since 2003. He is generally perceived to have a genuine understanding of the issues facing children’s services and the care system.

Before the election Loughton published the Conservative policy on children’s social work which included a promise to set up of an expert panel, headed by Professor Eileen Munro from the London School of Economics, to decide how bureaucracy could be slashed. Other policies included plans to push through social work practices and the appointment of a chief social worker.

One of the first issues Teather and Loughton are likely to be faced with is how to deal with rising referrals to the care system. In an interview with Community Care before the election Loughton said he felt the current high levels would drop and social workers would be “manning the barricades” until then. However, directors of children’s services believe the current levels are levelling out, rather than dropping.

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