The new schools minister is John Nash. He succeeds Lord Hill who has gone off to replace Tom Strathclyde as leader of the House of Lords.
Nash, a venture capitalist, is the sponsor of Pimlico Academy, one of the original Adonis academies, and has been a non-executive member of the Department for Education’s board for the past two years. This means that he already knows both the academy and departmental ropes. Given that he is close to Michael Gove and the other key figures in the department and part of what they are trying to do, there shouldn’t be much lost in transition.
I suspect that there’ll be a media squall over the fact that Nash and his wife have donated £300,000 to the Tories over the years. But the fact that Andrew Adonis involved him in the academies programme and that Pimlico was turned around in record time shows that he’s qualified for the job and more than just a deep-pocketed donor.
Nash is, I’m told, now ‘stepping away from all relevant business interests’. The Permanent Secretary is also putting measures in places to ensure that there’s no conflict between his philanthropic interests and his departmental job.
Nash’s appointment means that the loss of Lord Hill should have far less of an impact on the Department for Education than reformers feared it would. Nash understands the policy and has actually implemented it on the ground which is not something you can say about very many ministers.