Ms Greening held the post as Education Secretary since 14th July 2016 when she was appointed by the newly-elected Prime Minister Theresa May. She replaced Nicky Morgan as both Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities.
However, after 18 months in the role, she has now quit from government. Her resignation came after spending two and half hours at Downing Street where she refused a move to the Department for Work and Pensions.
She told the BBC: “Social mobility matters to me and our country more than a ministerial career – I’ll continue to work outside of government to do everything I can to create a country for the first time that has equality of opportunity for young people wherever they are growing up.”
Sources from No 10 said Ms May is “disappointed” but respects Ms Greening’s decision to leave the government.
Supporters of Ms Greening argued that she had worked hard to improve the party’s popularity with teachers, among whom support had slumped in recent years, and had focused heavily on technical education and social mobility.
Recently, she held a high-profile launch for her social mobility action plan, and just days before her resignation, she announced a series of measures aimed at boosting literacy teaching.
She also secured an additional £1.3 billion of funding from the existing DfE budget for schools for two years.
‘honour and privilege’
According to allies, Greening wanted to remain in position, focusing on young people, rather than take up her fourth secretary of state role. She tweeted that it had been an “honour and privilege” to serve since 2010 and would continue focusing on “equality of opportunity for young people”.
Her departure came after one senior Tory told the Guardian that Greening had been seen as too close to the teaching trade unions and resistant to the party’s education policies. Another figure claimed she had been thought of as overly vocal and critical during cabinet meetings.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, expressed “disappointment” that Ms Greening had left government.
“We are very sorry to see the departure of Justine Greening as education secretary,” he said. “She has tried hard to tackle the school funding crisis, without any help from the chancellor or prime minister. She has demonstrated an absolute commitment to social mobility, to addressing the serious difficulties in teacher recruitment and retention, and to developing education policy on the basis of evidence. She set an ambitious agenda on flexible working which challenged the profession to do more to modernise itself.”
“All of this was important work in progress. It is very disappointing therefore to lose her as secretary of state, particularly at a time when the education sector needs stability after the policy pyrotechnics and structural tinkering of recent years.”
Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the National Education Union, said they had a “good relationship” with Ms Greening, and added: “She listened to teachers and the unions, although she was not able to make the necessary changes in education policy.”
Damian Hinds who takes over from Justine Greening will be thrown into the deep end as he will need to get up to speed with issues the DfE is already consulting on. He’ll have a number of important decisions to make on high priority issues.
Whilst Brexit and the NHS have been making headlines, Education is likely to move to centre stage over the coming months; meaning 10 Downing Street could be keeping a closer eye on the new education secretary.
January 9, 2018