Michael Gove's controversial adviser Dominic Cummings 'quits to open new free school'

He has gained reputation as ruthless and passionate advocate of Education Secretary's reforms

Dominic Cummings, who, under Education Secretary Michael Gove, was blamed by civil servants for creating an “us-and-them, aggressive, intimidating culture” within his department, will quit his post by the year’s end.

He has proved to be one of the most divisive figures in Whitehall, with the Department for Education’s attempts to slim down its workforce by 1,000 people leading to one senior official saying “DfE probably now stands for Dump F***ing Everyone”.

He is not above using similar colourful language himself – as highlighted by an internal grievance report prepared for a tribunal. In the document, the complainant said that exchanges with Mr Cummings were “more reminiscent of an episode of ‘The Thick Of It’ than a reflection of acceptable behaviour of employees of the Department for Education”.

He has also previously been blamed for leaking details of a private meeting about policy failures held by Mr Gove with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. Anger over his rumoured indiscretion led to him being vetoed for the post of a special adviser to Gove by the then Downing Street chief of press Andy Coulson.

Mr Cummings came to work with Mr Gove after serving at the New Schools Network charity, set up to help with applications by parents and local groups to set up free schools. He quickly gained a reputation as a ruthless and passionate advocate of Mr Gove’s education reforms, crossing swords with those who have criticised the plans, suggesting that journalists scrutinising policy are either lying or in need of mental health treatment. Complaining about a comment article in The Independent which said the paper had incurred his “wrath”, Mr Cummings also implied that both Mr Garner and another reporter, Chris Cook of the Financial Times, needed counselling.

He wrote: “Either (a) you really think that counts as ‘wrath’ in which case you should speak to Chris Cook about a good therapist or (b) you know it’s absurd but were ordered to write something about spads and that’s the best you could do because you know I never call and shout at you.”

Subsequently asked to explain the email, he replied: “The Independent seems to be on a kamikaze mission to go bust as fast as possible by writing ludicrous and dishonest stories.”

Last night Mr Cummings told The Independent he was planning to leave his job to give time to prepare a successor for the role. He said he had not yet decided what to do next but was interested in helping free schools and getting involved in other educational developments “outside politics”.

Mr Cummings is the second darling of the Conservative party to be linked with free schools in the space of 24 hours. Katherine Birbalsingh – who gained a standing ovation when she criticised state education at a Tory party conference three years ago but was sacked by her school as a result – is also thought to be planning to open a free school in north London.

Meanwhile, one of the free schools reopened yesterday, after it was closed during an Ofsted inspection last week. A statement from the Al-Madinah Muslim school in Derby said that the decision to close the school related to “a short-term health and safety issue” that had now been fully resolved.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all