Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
John Swinney MSP

since 18 May 2016
Style Cabinet Secretary
Appointer First Minister
Inaugural holder Sam Galbraith
Formation 1999

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, commonly referred to as the Education Secretary, is a position in the Scottish Government Cabinet responsible for all levels of education in Scotland.

The Cabinet Secretary is supported by the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science and the Minister for Childcare and Early Years which are both junior ministerial posts.[1]

The current Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills is John Swinney, who was appointed in May 2016.



The responsibilities of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills include:

Government Strategy, Delivery and outcomes across portfolios, Resilience, School standards, Educational attainment and closing the attainment gap, National Improvement Framework, Quality and improvement, Teaching profession, School infrastructure and staffing, Qualifications, Behaviour, Measures to combat bullying, The Gaelic and Scots languages, Modern languages, Historical Abuse Inquiry, Named person, Cross Government co-ordination of Public Service Reform, Childcare implementation, Early years, Child protection, Social services workforce, Adoption and Fostering, Children’s rights, Looked after children, Children’s hearings, Protection of vulnerable groups, Children’s services, Widening Access, Higher education and universities, Further education and colleges, Student funding, Science and STEM, Youth work, Skills Development Scotland, Implementation of Wood recommendations.

Public bodies

The following public bodies report to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning:


The position was created in 1999 as the Minister for Children and Education; it was renamed as the Minister for Education, Europe and External Affairs in 2000 and given more responsibilities; those were taken away from the post in 2001 and it was renamed again as the Minister for Education and Young People. The current position of Cabinet Secretary was created following the 2007 election.

List of Office holders

Name Portrait Entered Office Left Office Party First Minister
Sam Galbraith 16 May 1999 28 November 2001 Labour Party Donald Dewar
Jack McConnell 28 November 2001 22 November 2002 Labour Party Henry McLeish
Cathy Jamieson 22 November 2002 20 May 2003 Labour Party Jack McConnell
Peter Peacock 20 May 2003 14 November 2006 Labour Party
Hugh Henry 14 November 2006 16 May 2007 Labour Party
Fiona Hyslop 16 May 2007 1 December 2009 Scottish National Party Alex Salmond
Michael Russell 1 December 2009 21 November 2014 Scottish National Party
Angela Constance 21 November 2014 18 May 2016 Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon
John Swinney 18 May 2016 Incumbent Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon


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