Newcastle MP Catherine McKinnell handed ministerial job joining Bridget Phillipson at Department for Education

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell has been handed a ministerial post in the new government, as Labour pledged on Monday to start a push to recruit 6,500 new teachers.

Ms McKinnell was named on Monday as a new minister of state in the Department for Education, working alongside education secretary and Sunderland MP Bridget Phillipson. She joins Tynemouth MP Sir Alan Campbell, who is Labour’s chief whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, and Sunderland-born business secretary Jonathan Reynolds among the North East contingent in the new government.

Ms McKinnell was previously Labour’s shadow schools minister. Newcastle Central and West MP Chi Onwurah, who was the shadow minister for science, research and digital, is yet to be given a role in the new administration.

Ms Phillipson, who was the first MP to be elected at Thursday’s general election as her Houghton and Sunderland South seat was quickest to declare, will “immediately embark on resetting the government’s relationship with the sector and transforming the image of teaching”, the Department for Education (DfE) said on Monday. The new education secretary was expected to write to all education workforces and is due to meet teaching unions in the coming days.

She said: “From day one, we are delivering the change this country demands and putting education back at the forefront of national life. We will work urgently to recruit thousands of brilliant new teachers and reset the relationship between government and the education workforce.

“For too long the teaching profession has been talked down, side-lined and denigrated. I have made it my first priority to write today to the people at the centre of making change happen: our workforces. I want all children to have the best life chances which means recruiting and keeping great teachers in our classrooms – today is the first step in that mission.”

The DfE will resume and expand its teacher recruitment campaign, Every Lesson Shapes a Life, as part of efforts to “re-establish teaching as an attractive, expert profession, where the immeasurable impact which teachers can make on children’s lives is truly valued”.

Ms Phillipson was also made minister for women and equalities on Monday, in addition to her role as Education Secretary. However, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that Anneliese Dodds will in fact be the “lead minister” for women and equalities and that Ms Phillipson’s appointment was for “sort of constitutional purposes” so that a cabinet member formally holds the role as part of their portfolio.