Conservative Party leadership contenders: What will they do for schools?

Theresa May has announced she will stand down as Conservative Party leader on June 7, meaning the search for a new prime minister is on.

Here, Schools Week rounds up those who have launched bids to become the next leader and PM, and what their ascension could mean for schools…

This article will be updated as further candidates declare.


Kit Malthouse: The outsider with a school funding agenda

The housing minister and former Boris Johnson aide crashed unexpectedly into the leadership race with a vow to make the Conservatives “the party of well-funded schools”.

When he advised Johnson on policing during his time as London mayor, Malthouse spoke of the benefits of putting knife arches in the capital’s schools. Malthouse was educated at the then-private Liverpool College and the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.


Sajid Javid: State-educated home sec with social mobility slant

As business secretary, Javid presided over the further education and skills brief, but is not known for any lengthy pontification on schools issues. In 2009 he argued in a Conservative Home article that parental involvement was “key to social mobility”.

He often tells the story of his upbringing as the son of a bus driver when talking about the mobility of disadvantaged children. He went to state schools and an FE college.


Michael Gove: The aggressive schools reformer

As education secretary, Gove presided over sweeping reforms, including the rapid expansion of academies.

He is still loathed by A LOT of teachers, but also retains a loyal supporter base in the education community (mostly in the academies sector).

His legacy has been kept alive by Nick Gibb, the schools minister, who has already backed Gove’s leadership bid, and further development of the academies programme seems almost inevitable if he becomes PM. He was educated at a combination of state and independent schools and Oxford university.


Matthew Hancock: Health secretary who wants mobiles banned from classroom

The ever-enthusiastic former skills minister-turned-health secretary has taken a keen interest in the expansion of the academies programme in his Suffolk constituency, but is likely to be more FE-focused if he becomes PM.

However, he proved last year he’s not averse to weighing in on the schools debate after he called for a nationwide ban on mobile phones in schools.


Andrea Leadsom: Ex-Commons leader favours parent rights

It was Leadsom’s decision to back out of the Tory leadership race in 2016 that led to Theresa May’s coronation as prime minister.

The grammar school and Oxford-educated leader of the House of Commons recently made headlines after she appeared to contradict government policy by saying that parents should decide when their children were “exposed” to lessons about LGBT issues.


Dominic Raab: Grammar schools’ biggest fan

If you think the rest of the Conservative Party is in love with grammar schools, then the arch-Brexiter is on another level.

In 2014, he published the “Meritocrat’s Manifesto” which pushed for a wider reintroduction of grammars. Ending the ban on new selective schools would almost certainly be back on the agenda if he became PM. The former education committee member was educated at grammar school and Oxford.


Jeremy Hunt: Gove’s legacy inspired health reforms

To the bemusement of his critics in the NHS, the private school and Oxford-educated former health secretary recently landed the plum job of foreign secretary.

Another fan of academisation, Hunt has likened his health reforms to Gove’s handing of autonomy to schools.

The foreign secretary also founded the educational listings company Hotcourses in 1990. It is estimated he made more than £14 million from its sale in 1990.


Boris Johnson: Could frontrunner revive grammars expansion?

The Eton and Oxford-educated and now slightly-less-foppy-than-usual former Mayor of London backed the expansion of grammar schools shortly before becoming an MP for the second time in 2015.

The decision to ban new ones was, he said, “a real tragedy for this country.”

When he was mayor, Johnson argued strongly in favour of free schools and urged critics to set educational ideology aside.


Esther McVey: Brexiteer wants more cash for schools

The former work and pensions secretary and arch-Brexiteer was one of a number of Tory MPs who recently launched an attack on the government over school funding.

McVey, who was educated privately at The Belvedere School in Liverpool and Queen Mary university, has already proposed cutting international aid spending in order to free up £7 billion in extra funding for schools and the police.


Rory Stewart: Old Etonion fears his education won’t help

Representing a rural seat in Cumbria, Eton and Oxford-educated international development secretary Stewart has unsurprisingly previously lobbied for a better look-in for rural schools in the development of the national funding formula, but hasn’t made any particularly high-profile interventions on education issues.

He has, however, admitted that his own education could be a hindrance in the race. “David Cameron is not awfully popular and he’s an Old Etonian,” he told The Times. “I think it is a disadvantage for a leadership candidate to be an old Etonian, I don’t think it’s an impossible one to overcome.”