A fresh row broke out yesterday over female representation in government after it emerged that Michael Gove has failed to appoint any women to a new highly paid group of schools “super-regulators”.
All of the six regional schools commissioners unveiled so far are men, despite women making up 84 per cent of the education sector. Even if the remaining two vacancies go to women, they would still be outnumbered by men three to one.
The appointment of the six men follows criticism of the Education Secretary for sacking one of the only women in a senior national role in education – Baroness Sally Morgan, the former chairman of Ofsted. Although her departure was alleged to be politically motivated, it was also seen as a setback for women in senior government roles.
Mr Gove has said the regional schools commissioners, who will earn as much as £140,000 a year, will act on his behalf overseeing free schools and academies and report to a national schools commissioner, who is also a man.
The existence of the new commissioners has provoked controversy because they amount to an extra layer of bureaucracy reporting to a minister who has made great play of devolving power from Whitehall and giving freedoms to schools and head teachers.
The national schools commissioner is Frank Green, chief executive of Leigh Academies Trust. Dr Tim Coulson, director of education at Essex County Council, and formerly head teacher at William Tyndale School in Islington, north London, will act as commissioner for north-east London and the east of England. Martin Post, headmaster of Watford Grammar School for Boys, will act for north-west London and the south central region. The commissioner for the South-west is Sir David Carter, chief executive of the Cabot Learning Federation academy group, while in the West Midlands the commissioner is Pank Patel, head teacher of the Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury and a serving Ofsted inspector.
Paul Smith, executive head teacher of Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy, Wigan, will be the Lancashire and West Yorkshire commissioner. Commissioners for the East Midlands and Humber and the north region have yet to be appointed.
Women form 84 per cent of the total workforce in publicly funded schools. Yet out of 14 management staff at the Department for Education, just four are women. The only female minister at the DfE, Liz Truss, is said to have the smallest ministerial office in contrast to her male colleagues.
The Shadow Children’s minister Lucy Powell said: “What is Michael Gove up to at the Department for Education? Men make up the vast majority of his senior management and now we discover that he hasn’t appointed a single woman to the role of regional schools commissioner. In a profession where women outnumber men by five to one, it’s difficult to accept this as a coincidence.
“From the cost-of-living crisis to a lack of representation at the top table, the Tories simply don’t stand up for women. They’re completely out of touch.”
Michael Gove provoked anger when he claimed that Blackadder had skewed historical perspectives of the First World War before the 100th anniversary, claiming it peddled left-wing “myths” that let Germany off the hook.
His sacking of Baroness Sally Morgan as chairman of Ofsted infuriated his Lib Dem deputy, David Laws, and followed allegations of political interference and right-wing attacks on the schools inspectorate.
The Secretary of State for Education said it was “ridiculous” that there were so many Old Etonians in Cameron’s inner circle at Downing Street, to the fury of the Prime Minister.Reuse content