Leading article: Adonis will now be accountable

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It was Tony Blair's reshuffle at education that produced the biggest shock waves in the aftermath of his third election victory. The decision to give his senior adviser, Andrew Adonis, a peerage and make him a schools minister has outraged Blair's opponents in the Labour Party. But it has the merit of putting the main architect of the Government's education policies in the position of being in charge of carrying them out.

It was Tony Blair's reshuffle at education that produced the biggest shock waves in the aftermath of his third election victory. The decision to give his senior adviser, Andrew Adonis, a peerage and make him a schools minister has outraged Blair's opponents in the Labour Party. But it has the merit of putting the main architect of the Government's education policies in the position of being in charge of carrying them out.

Those who have complained that Adonis has for years been the unaccountable architect of controversial policies such as top-up fees and the privately-sponsored academies programme to replace struggling state secondary schools will finally have the pleasure of seeing him account for himself in public.

There is no doubt that Adonis is an intellectual heavyweight and that must be good for the government department concerned with education. He is a worthy heir in that respect to David Miliband, who might just have returned to the department in the top job if Mr Blair had gone ahead with his initial idea to move Ruth Kelly back to the Treasury as Chief Secretary. She is said to have objected to that and to have also opposed Adonis's appointment. That is undoubtedly the reason why - after four days of speculation - the former Downing Street policy wonk emerged as No.3 in the schools' ministerial hierarchy rather than No.2, as had originally been touted. As No.3, he would pose less of a threat to Kelly than he would have done as No.2.

Having said that, his policy brief covers an area that will be at the heart of Labour's third term in office in education - the pledge to create 200 academies by the year 2010. For good measure, he is also in charge of London schools - where a good number of the new academies will be sited. He is, in effect, the minister overseeing the radical elements of Blair's education programme. While the jury is still out on whether academies are the way forward - and we would have preferred a brake to have been put on expansion while the performance of the first 17 was evaluated - we have to be realistic. Blair is clearly determined to go ahead with this commitment. It makes sense, therefore, to make the architect of the scheme the minister in charge of ensuring its delivery.

Comments