Hear what the Education Secretary has to say!

The government’s new schools boss, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, invited readers of First News and viewers of our partner Bafta-award winning children’s show, FYI, to ask her questions about school.

The key takeaway points:

Teacher Strikes

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan mentions: “At the moment they’re balloting to ask teachers whether or not they want to go on strike or not.

“We’re going to give teachers a pay rise, which is between 5% and 8.9%. I’m hoping that they will not go on strike because one of the things we all know is the impact of the pandemic on education, on people’s mental health and on people’s preparedness.”

Free School Meals

Gillian Keegan: “One child in every three actually gets free school meals today. 1.9 million children get free school meals, which is more than ever there has been in the past.

“If you gave it to everybody, then that means a lot of people who don’t need it would get it. I think the important thing is to make sure free school meals go to those people who need it.”


Gillian Keegan: “More and more girls do have access to football. I mean, you couldn’t play it at all when I was at school. But the questions we [are] asking is, does everybody get equal access? How do we make sure that we have more sports in school and we have more opportunity for football?

“So, we are going to work together to see what we can do to build on [the lionesses] amazing success.”


Gillian Keegan: “So, what we’ve done recently – you should get access to this shortly – is the Careers & Enterprise Company, which works with every school and arranges businesses either to come in, or for you to go and visit businesses. You can do them virtually as well.

“The important thing I would also say about careers is you won’t just have one, you’ll probably have two and three. I did nearly 30 years working in businesses all over the world – different jobs, different businesses. And now I’m an MP.

Green Schools

Gillian Keegan: “A few weeks ago, we got £500 million extra money and we allocated it to all schools to just do some short-term things to help them with the bills, things like lagging pipes, things like LED lights and things like excluding draughts and heating controls so that you’re using your heating more more wisely.”

“We have said we’re going to be carbon neutral as a country by 2050. I think the question for me is, will schools be before that, or most of them at least? You’ve got some schools where they’ve got a grade one listed building, so if you took that building, the answer to your questions would probably be not soon, not very easy to do. So, they’ll be a balance.

“Overall, the plan would be to make sure that, over all schools, we are net carbon neutral.”

Read the full interview in this week’s issue of First News – available in print, online or via the newsstand. Or watch the interview here – which includes an interview with Shadow Education Secretary, Bridget Phillipson.

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