Whilst Caroline Flint seems to have garnered most of the newspaper headlines today, there’s a far more interesting and deserving story that came out of yesterday’s reshuffle.
The rise and rise of Andrew Adonis to Transport Secretary.
Now it’s quite easy for party members to view Adonis with great suspicion. I was one of them. A former SDP supporter and Lib Dem councillor, Andrew was TB’s education advisor at Number 10 before stepping up to replace David Miliband as the PM’s Head of Policy.
He might have been cruelly nicknamed ‘NOT’ (Adonis) but no-one has done more to improve education than the not-that Red Baron.
He took a lot of flack for proposing and introducing City Academies. But if you look at the facts, they’ve proved to be far better than the failed schools they replaced. In fact, a study found that they were improving six times faster than equivalent non-academy schools.
His passion for education obviously stems from his background – growing up in care in a children’s home, he actually won a local authority education grant to go to an independent fee paying boarding school.
I worked with Andrew for three years on the London Challenge – a government strategy to help improve the attainment and achievement at the capital’s state secondary schools.
From being amongst the worst authorities in the country, London has seen record pass rises for the last four years and is now consitently above the national average – a remarkable achievemnent when you look at the high levels of free school meal provision, special educational needs and English Spoken as a Second Language. A lot of this was down to the inspired appointment of Sir Tim Brighouse as Chief Advisor to London Challenge.
Andrew’s drive, commitment and knowledge is positively infectious (he inspired me to become Chair of Governors of a secondary school in Greenwich) and now it’s been transfered to his other great passion – trains.
You’d be hard placed to think of any other minister who would gladly spend a week travelling round the country on a train to get a better coalface view of the sector – blogging as he went.
A lot of people had predicted that Adonis would be the first for the chop when GB got into Number 10.
The fact he survived and made it into the Cabinet is testament to his astounding talent.