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Government appoints ninth children’s minister in just over six years

Claire Coutinho has been ‘promoted to energy secretary’ after just 10 months in the role as children’s minister with responsibility for social care, with David Johnston becoming the ninth politician to hold the role since June 2017.

04/09/23

Government appoints ninth children’s minister in just over six years

David Johnston takes over as Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing following a mini cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Johnston, who is Conservative MP for Wantage and Didcot said he was ‘honoured’ to be appointed.

“Having spent 16 years running organisations for disadvantaged children before I became an MP, I'm delighted to be able to work with Gillian Keegan and her team on giving children the best start in life.”

Responding to the announcement, users on social media joked that the position had become a ‘revolving door’, despite the government’s supposed commitment to enacting recommendations from landmark reports on children’s social care and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

“So another change in Children’s Minister who has responsibility for SEND. 7 ministers have come and gone since the SEND Review (2019) with no progress. So the reforms that are so badly needed are once again kicked down the road,” Vic Goddard, Co-Principal of Passmores Academy in Harlow, wrote on Twitter.

“Don’t get too comfortable,” one user joked, alluding to the fact that Mr Johnston is now the ninth politician to take over the role since 2017 when Edward Timpson, who had held the role for five years, lost his seat in the general election.

Others criticised Mr Johnston’s voting record, such as voting against directly funding free school meals over the school holidays.

David was previously Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, a charity which runs a range of programmes that incorporate mentoring, internships, university application support and skills development to help young people from low-income backgrounds enter universities and professions.

He is also a governor at Pimlico Academy, a London secondary school, and a governor of a sixth form college in London, as well as sitting on the board of an organisation for 11 to 16 year olds in Oxfordshire.

Previously, David was Director of Future, a charity which supports organisations working with young people.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she was looking forward to welcoming Mr Johnston to the role.

The move comes after Claire Coutinho, the previous holder of the children’s minister role, takes over as Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.

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