Shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan MP was reacting to the appointment of Tim Leunig (pictured above right) as joint director of analysis in the department. Leunig was previously a policy adviser to the secretary of state, having won that job as an exemption to the Civil Service Recruitment principles – meaning that his appointment was made outside the rules of fair and open competition based on merit. Prior to that, he was chief economist at CentreForum: the liberal think tank chaired by Liberal Democrat education minister David Laws.
Last month, the department appointed 28-year-old Tom Shinner as director of strategy. Shinner was previously a departmental policy adviser for less than a year, also appointed under an exemption to the recruitment principles. Before that he set up a free school with Jonathan Simons, head of education at the Policy Exchange think tank – founded by education secretary Michael Gove.
Kevin Brennan told CSW that: “These appointments further undermine the independence of education civil servants. Michael Gove has previously appointed party ideologues as special advisers and given non-executive directors offices and staff in the department. These latest appointments continue this disturbing trend.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “Following an openly-advertised external competition, Donna Ward and Tim Leunig were appointed to the role of chief analyst as a job-share partnership on 14 February. As with all such competitions at this level, the process was overseen, and the recruitment panel chaired, by an independent civil service commissioner.”
The department added that the appointment of Shinner to director level was also overseen and the recruitment panel chaired by a civil service commissioner.