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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine