Who is the longest-serving Education Secretary? (NB: It’s not Gove)

Michael Gove is currently 8th in the longevity stakes however he’s only a fortnight away from overtaking Kenneth Baker and stealing 7th place* (UPDATE: By time he left, he got much further).

David EcclesThe winner of the overall leader board is actually David Eccles, who I originally placed outside the top ten on my spreadsheet (and hence yesterday tweeted that Gove was 7th). However, Eccles had two shots at the role – one stint of 809 days, another of 1004. Taken separately the periods aren’t noteworthy, but taken together the periods make him the longest-serving Education Secretary. Hence, I bumped him up (and Gove down).  Eccles also lived for the second longest time of any Education Secretary (he died aged 94, outpaced only by Edward Short who lived to be 99).

UPDATED 25/5/16: Needed to update Michael Gove

1 David Eccles 1823 (809 + 1004)
2 George Tomlinson 1719
3 Keith Joseph 1714
4 Michael Gove 1525
5 David Blunkett 1498
6 Rab Butler 1405
7 Margaret Thatcher 1353
8 Kenneth Baker 1161
9 Florence Horsbrugh 1082
10 Gillian Shephard 1057
11 Edward Balls 1044
12 Shirley Williams 967
13 Anthony Crosland 949
14 Mark Carlisle 862
15 John Patten 832
16 Edward Short 805
17 Charles Clarke 783
18 Geoffrey Lloyd 758
19 Nicky Morgan 732
20 Edward Boyle 629
21 Ellen Wilkinson 560
22 Fred Mulley 556
23 Kenneth Clarke 526
24 Ruth Kelly 507
25 Estelle Morris 503
26 John MacGregor 467
27 Quintin Hogg 444 (246 + 198)
28 Reg Prentice 434
29 Alan Johnson 420
30 Patrick Gordon Walker 221
31 Michael Stewart 98
32 Richard Law 62

The average is 851 days. Unless you count the Hogg and Eccles periods separately, in which case the average becomes a rounded 800 days.

UPDATED 25/5/16: Taking account of Michael Gove finally having got to the end this table has been re-done. The new average time in office is 863 days altogether. Or, for single periods in office, it is 810 days.

UPDATED: Taking account of Nicky Morgan’s time in office the average for single periods in office is 801 days, and 832 overall.

*NB: Throughout this site I refer to all people in the lead education role as ‘Education Secretary’ even though I realise this role, technically, didn’t come in until 1964. Before that the role was merely ‘Minister for Education’ and up until half-way through Butler’s tenure the role was performed by a ‘President of the Board of Education’. At various times the role has also expanded to including Employment, Science, Children, & so on. I use ‘Education Secretary’ as a shorthand for all these roles. Please forgive me.


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