Hear what the Education Secretary has to say!

By arayerevanian 12th January 2023

The government’s new schools boss, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, invited readers of First News and viewers of our partner Bafta-award winning children’s show, FYI, to ask her questions about school.

The key takeaway points:

Teacher Strikes

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan mentions: “At the moment they’re balloting to ask teachers whether or not they want to go on strike or not.

“We’re going to give teachers a pay rise, which is between 5% and 8.9%. I’m hoping that they will not go on strike because one of the things we all know is the impact of the pandemic on education, on people’s mental health and on people’s preparedness.”

Free School Meals

Gillian Keegan: “One child in every three actually gets free school meals today. 1.9 million children get free school meals, which is more than ever there has been in the past.

“If you gave it to everybody, then that means a lot of people who don’t need it would get it. I think the important thing is to make sure free school meals go to those people who need it.”


Gillian Keegan: “More and more girls do have access to football. I mean, you couldn’t play it at all when I was at school. But the questions we [are] asking is, does everybody get equal access? How do we make sure that we have more sports in school and we have more opportunity for football?

“So, we are going to work together to see what we can do to build on [the lionesses] amazing success.”

(L-R) Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, Britain's Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Grant Shapps, Britain's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Therese Coffey, Britain's Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan, Britain's Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and Britain's Minister of State for Development in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Andrew Mitchell pose for a photograph during the first cabinet meeting under the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak in 10 Downing Street in central London on October 26, 2022. - Sunak's largely same-look cabinet holds an inaugural meeting today before he heads to the House of Commons for his first weekly "Prime Minister's Questions", when he will battle Labour leader Keir Starmer and other opposition lawmakers. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEFAN ROUSSEAU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)


Gillian Keegan: “So, what we’ve done recently – you should get access to this shortly – is the Careers & Enterprise Company, which works with every school and arranges businesses either to come in, or for you to go and visit businesses. You can do them virtually as well.

“The important thing I would also say about careers is you won’t just have one, you’ll probably have two and three. I did nearly 30 years working in businesses all over the world – different jobs, different businesses. And now I’m an MP.

Green Schools

Gillian Keegan: “A few weeks ago, we got £500 million extra money and we allocated it to all schools to just do some short-term things to help them with the bills, things like lagging pipes, things like LED lights and things like excluding draughts and heating controls so that you’re using your heating more more wisely.”

“We have said we’re going to be carbon neutral as a country by 2050. I think the question for me is, will schools be before that, or most of them at least? You’ve got some schools where they’ve got a grade one listed building, so if you took that building, the answer to your questions would probably be not soon, not very easy to do. So, they’ll be a balance.

“Overall, the plan would be to make sure that, over all schools, we are net carbon neutral.”

Read the full interview in this week’s issue of First News – available in print, online or via the newsstand. Or watch the interview here – which includes an interview with Shadow Education Secretary, Bridget Phillipson.

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