Claire Coutinho, the MP for East Surrey, was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education on 26 October 2022.
The newly appointed minister values education highly. She explained:
“Education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet that can improve the life chances of every young person in Britain.”
Claire has spent a large portion of her career working in social justice and observing policies to ensure families make the most of ‘the power of education’.
In a statement on 27 October, Claire expressed her joy towards the appointment of her new role:
“I’m very excited to share that I will be putting some of that experience into practice in my role as minister for children, families and wellbeing at the Department for Education. I’ll have oversight of some really important policy areas from early years, childcare and SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) to children’s social care, safeguarding and online safety. We have some huge issues to get to grips with, but I have a phenomenal and experienced ministerial team to work alongside.”
Some of her ministerial responsibilities cover freedom of speech in education, children’s social care, adoption, family hubs, disadvantaged and vulnerable children, and the prevention of bullying in schools.
The importance of education has been highlighted in Parliament, and the chancellor announced an additional £4.6bn to go towards schools in the recent Autumn Budget.
Though this is an exciting new role for Claire, there have been concerns over how much time she will have left to dedicate to East Surrey. She hopes to alleviate any worries her constituents may have by assuring them her focus will not falter:
“Even though I’ve been appointed as a minister, I’ve still been out and about meeting local police officers, volunteers, teachers and residents across East Surrey. I’ve also held a number of my regular MP surgeries and spent time in the community. I hope my position as a minister means that the experiences of parents, teachers and nursery workers right here in East Surrey will help inform my work. However, my favourite part of my job will always be representing all of you to the best of my abilities.”
Claire was a Parliamentary private secretary to the Treasury in March 2020 and minister for disabled people at the Department for Work and Pensions in September 2022. Through her experience taking on multiple responsibilities at once, she is confident she will continue to deliver each role to the best of her ability.