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Former schools minister Jacqui Smith returns to DfE

Former schools minister and home secretary Jacqui Smith has joined Bridget Phillipson’s ministerial team at the Department for Education.

The former Labour MP, pictured above with prime minister Sir Keir Starmer, who will get a peerage, will by the education team’s minister in the House of Lords, a role held until yesterday by Baroness Barran.

Under the previous government, the role was minister of state for the school system, meaning Barran oversaw academies policy and issues around school structures, as well as capital funding and other issues.

However, Iain Dale, who hosts a podcast with Smith, has posted on X that her role will see her oversee “skills, further and higher education”.

Each department has a minister in the Lords who oversees all related business in the upper house, so Smith would likely be responsible for shepherding any schools-related legislation through.

Elected as the MP for Redditch in 1997, Smith was a junior education minister from 1999 to 2001 before serving as a health and industry minister. She returned as schools minister from 2005 to 2006, before serving a year as chief whip and then two years as home secretary.

Further members of the DfE ministerial team are yet to be named.

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