Secretary of State for Education


The Secretary of State for Education is the chief minister of the Department for Education in the United Kingdom government. The position was re-established on 12 May 2010, held by Michael Gove.

A Committee of the Privy Council was appointed in 1839 to supervise the distribution of certain Government grants in the education field. The members of the Committee were the Lord President of the Council, the Secretaries of State, the First Lord of the Treasury, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. From 1857 a Vice President was appointed who took responsibility for policy.

In 1899, the Board of Education Act abolished the Committee and instituted a new Board, headed by a President, as of 1 April 1900. The members were initially very similar to the old Committee and the President of the Board was the Lord President of the Council; however, from 1902 this ceased to be the case and the President of the Board was appointed separately (although the Marquess of Londonderry happened to hold both jobs from 1903 to 1905).

The Department of Education and Science was created in 1964 with the merger of the offices of Minister of Education and the Minister of Science. In 1992 the responsibility for science was transferred to Cabinet Office’s Office of Public Service, and the department was renamed Department of Education. In 1995 the department merged with the Department of Employment to become the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) and in 2001 the employment functions were transferred to a newly created Department for Work and Pensions, with the DfEE becoming the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). In 2007 under Gordon Brown's new premiership, the DfES was split into two new departments; the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and a Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, under two new Secretaries of State.

The ministerial office of the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills was, in late 2009, amalgamated into the new ministerial office of the resurgent politician, Peter Mandelson, ennobled as Lord Mandelson as the newly created Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills - itself an amalgamation of the responsibilities of the Secretaries of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and Innovation, Universities and Skills - the Secretary of State has remit over Higher Education policy as well as British business and enterprise. As of May 12, 2010, it is headed by Secretary of State Vince Cable.

Vice-President of the Committee of the Council on Education

Name Portrait Took office Left office Political party Prime Minister
William Cowper 5 February 1857 21 February 1858 Whig The Viscount Palmerston
Charles Adderley 12 March 1858 11 June 1859 Conservative The Earl of Derby
Robert Lowe 24 June 1859 26 April 1864
Liberal The Viscount Palmerston
Henry Bruce 26 April 1864 26 June 1866 Liberal
The Earl Russell
Henry Thomas Lowry-Corry 26 June 1866 19 March 1867 Conservative The Earl of Derby
Lord Robert Montagu 19 March 1867 1 December 1868 Conservative
Benjamin Disraeli
William Edward Forster 9 December 1868 17 February 1874 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
Dudley Ryder
Viscount Sandon
2 March 1874 4 April 1878 Conservative Benjamin Disraeli
Lord George Hamilton 4 April 1878 21 April 1880 Conservative
Anthony John Mundella 3 May 1880 9 June 1885 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
Edward Stanhope 24 June 1885 17 September 1885 Conservative The Marquess of Salisbury
Sir Henry Holland 17 September 1885 28 January 1886 Conservative
Sir Lyon Playfair 13 February 1886 20 July 1886 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
Sir Henry Holland 3 August 1886 25 January 1887 Conservative The Marquess of Salisbury
Sir William Hart Dyke 25 January 1887 11 August 1892 Conservative
Sir Arthur Herbert Dyke Acland 25 August 1892 21 June 1895 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
The Earl of Rosebery
Sir John Eldon Gorst 4 July 1895 8 August 1902 Conservative The Marquess of Salisbury

President of the Board of Education

Name Portrait Took office Left office Political party Prime Minister
Spencer Cavendish
The Duke of Devonshire
1 April 1900 8 August 1902 Liberal Unionist The Marquess of Salisbury
Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart
The Marquess of Londonderry
8 August 1902 4 December 1905 Conservative Arthur Balfour
Augustine Birrell 10 December 1905 23 January 1907 Liberal Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Reginald McKenna 23 January 1907 12 April 1908 Liberal
Walter Runciman 12 April 1908 23 October 1911 Liberal H. H. Asquith
Joseph Albert Pease 23 October 1911 25 May 1915 Liberal
Arthur Henderson 25 May 1915 18 August 1916 Labour
Robert Crewe-Milnes
The Marquess of Crewe
18 August 1916 10 December 1916 Liberal
Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher 10 December 1916 19 October 1922 Liberal
David Lloyd George
E. F. L. Wood 24 October 1922 22 January 1924 Conservative Bonar Law
Stanley Baldwin
Charles Trevelyan 22 January 1924 3 November 1924 Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Lord Eustace Percy 6 November 1924 4 June 1929 Conservative Stanley Baldwin
Sir Charles Trevelyan 7 June 1929 2 March 1931
Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Hastings Lees-Smith 2 March 1931 24 August 1931 Labour
Sir Donald Maclean 25 August 1931 15 June 1932
(Died in office)
(National Govt.)
E. F. L. Wood
Baron Irwin

(Viscount Halifax from 1934)
15 June 1932 7 June 1935 Conservative
(National Govt.)
Oliver Stanley 7 June 1935 28 May 1937 Conservative
(National Govt.)
Stanley Baldwin
James Stanhope
The Earl Stanhope
28 May 1937 27 October 1938 Conservative
(National Govt.)
Neville Chamberlain
Herbrand Sackville
The Earl De La Warr
27 October 1938 3 April 1940 National Labour
(National Govt.;
War Govt.)
Herwald Ramsbotham 3 April 1940 20 July 1941 Conservative
Winston Churchill
R. A. Butler 20 July 1941 3 August 1944 Conservative

Minister of Education

Name Took office Left office Political party Prime Minister
R. A. Butler 3 August 1944 25 May 1945 Conservative
Winston Churchill
Richard Law 25 May 1945 26 July 1945 Conservative
(Caretaker Govt.)
Ellen Wilkinson 3 August 1945 6 February 1947
(Died in office)
Labour Clement Attlee
George Tomlinson 10 February 1947 26 October 1951 Labour
Florence Horsbrugh 2 November 1951 18 October 1954 Conservative Sir Winston Churchill
David Eccles 18 October 1954 13 January 1957 Conservative
Sir Anthony Eden
Quintin Hogg
The Viscount Hailsham
13 January 1957 17 September 1957 Conservative Harold Macmillan
Geoffrey Lloyd 17 September 1957 14 October 1959 Conservative
David Eccles 14 October 1959 13 July 1962 Conservative
Sir Edward Boyle 13 July 1962 1 April 1964 Conservative
Sir Alec Douglas-Home