John Swinney ‘thrilled’ to step into education brief
Deputy First Minister John Swinney is Scotland's new education secretary
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said he is “thrilled” to take on the education brief following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet reshuffle.
Swinney, who has been in control of Scotland’s finances for nine years, steps into a role which Sturgeon insists will be the top priority of the Scottish Government in the new parliament.
“After nine demanding but enjoyable years at Finance, I am thrilled to become education secretary to advance the Govt's top priority,” he tweeted.
Swinney replaces Angela Constance, who moves to a new role as cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities.
She was criticised by teachers during the election campaign, fuelling rumours about her future.
Swinney will be seen as a safe pair of hands after building a reputation as a tough negotiator as finance secretary, but some may see it as a demotion.
On the new appointment, Sturgeon said: “John’s record is exemplary, overseeing a succession of balanced budgets as well as delivering the recent fiscal framework deal that will underpin the new powers being devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
“His appointment to this crucial role demonstrates how important education is to my government.”
Other reactions to the appointment have begun to come in.
Vonnie Sandlan, president of the National Union of Students, welcomed Swinney to the role. “Education has become the defining political priority for the Scottish Government, and Parliament – something clearly exemplified by putting the education brief in the hands of Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, a hopeful sign of intent and ambition,” she said.
David Wilson, executive director of the International Public Policy Institute at Strathclyde University, tweeted: “Congratulations on your new role, and very best wishes. I am sure the whole sector is looking forward to working with you.”
However teacher James McEnaney, education spokesman for RISE, tweeted: “Swinney at education could be very bad news - looks like Sturgeon getting ready to fight teachers rather than listen to them.”
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