Another astonishing story about DfE civil servants and my second of the week. A Schools Bill (about the work of academies) is currently meandering its way through the parliamentary process. Conservative peers have tabled a motion to delete the first 18 clauses of the Bill as they say these will reverse part of the government’s school reform programme. The Times headline referencing the story was: "Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi ‘hoodwinked by civil service’ ".
The Times says: "The bill has been strongly criticised by former Conservative and Labour education ministers in the House of Lords, who say that far from giving schools greater freedoms it will allow officials in the Department for Education to micromanage academies across the country. The critics include the Conservatives Lord Agnew of Oulton and Lord Nash, and Lord Adonis, the Labour peer, who pioneered the academy programme. Lord Baker of Dorking, the former Tory education secretary, described it as an “enormous grab for power by Whitehall”, saying it was “quite amazing” that ministers had agreed to provisions written into the bill."
Conservative critics have accused ministers of allowing civil servants to make government policy over the heads of ministers. Or behind their backs. Either way, it's more reasons, some might think, for there to be elections for senior civil servants in the DfE.