Friday 17 September 2021


Labour frontbencher Wes Streeting has bemoaned the appointment of Nadhim Zarhawi as Education Secretary.  Streeting complained on Twitter that Zarhawi never went to a state school and is therefore not qualified to oversee the education of working class children.

Streeting's tweet is not entirely accurate as Zarhawi attended Holland Park comprehensive in London before he embarked on private education.  However, that's not the biggest problem with this tweet.

Streeting's aim is clearly to present the Tories as a bunch of privately educated toffs - which they mostly are - albeit two of the most recent Tory education secretaries were state educated (Justine Greening and Gavin Williamson).  When Labour were in government for 13 years they actually fielded less state educated ministers in this role than the Conservatives have in 11 years.  Just one of the seven education secretaries under New Labour was state educated.

Ed Balls - private school (Nottingham High School)
John Denham - the exception, he was educated at Woodroffe comprehensive in Dorset
Alan Johnson - grammar school (Sloane Grammar School in London)
Ruth Kelly - private school (Sutton High School)
Charles Clarke - private school (Highgate School)
Estelle Morris - grammar school (Whalley Range High School in Manchester)
David Blunkett - educated at special schools for the blind

If we go back further, to the Labour governments of Wilson and Callaghan, we find that only two of the six education secretaries were state educated.

For the record Labour's current education spokeswoman - Kate Green - was state educated.  In opposition Labour have filled the role of shadow education secretary with mostly state educated members, with the exception of Ed Balls and Tristram Hunt.  Perhaps the clue is in the name 'Tristram'.