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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power