Ruth Kelly - Secretary of State For Education and Skills

Secretary of State For Education and Skills

In the reshuffle following the resignation of David Blunkett on 15 December 2004, Kelly entered the Cabinet (also becoming a member of the Privy Council) with the position of Secretary of State for Education and Skills. She became the youngest woman ever to sit in the Cabinet.

The Government's Extended Schools policy, which plans to open some schools from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and provide child-care services for working parents, has been dubbed by some as "Kelly hours" after Kelly. although the National Childcare Strategy with before and after school care funded in most schools by the New Opportunities Fund pre-dated extended schools (and Ruth Kelly's ministerial tenure) by several years. The extended schools initiative is predicated on wider use of and access to schools as community resources, not just for parents and children. Her proposals in the 2005 white paper to reduce the number and influence of parent governors in Trust Schools, were seen as a partial reversal of this earlier stance.

Kelly attracted considerable criticism by rejecting the proposals of the Tomlinson report on education reform for the 14–19 age group, which suggested replacing A level exams with a four-tier diploma. After the 2005 election, it was rumoured that she was to be demoted back into her old post at the Treasury and although she kept her position at the DfES, she was said to have been "less than thrilled" by the appointment of Tony Blair's adviser Andrew Adonis as a Minister within her Department.

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