Estelle Morris, Baroness Morris of Yardley

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The Right Honourable
The Baroness Morris of Yardley
Estelle Morris at the PAS report launch.jpg
Secretary of State for Education and Skills
In office
8 June 2001 – 24 October 2002
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by David Blunkett (Education and Employment)
Succeeded by Charles Clarke
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Yardley
In office
9 April 1992 – 5 May 2005
Preceded by David Gilroy Bevan
Succeeded by John Hemming
Personal details
Born (1952-06-17) 17 June 1952 (age 62)
Manchester, England, UK
Political party Labour
Alma mater Coventry College of Education
Profession Teacher

Estelle Morris, Baroness Morris of Yardley, PC (born 17 June 1952) is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Yardley from 1992 to 2005, and served briefly in the Cabinet as Education Secretary.

Early life[edit]

Morris was born in Manchester to a political family. Her uncle, Alf Morris, was Labour MP for Manchester Wythenshawe (1964–97) and her father, Charles, was Labour MP for Manchester Openshaw (1963–83) and Post Office union official who married Pauline Dunn. She first attended Rack House primary school on Yarmouth Drive in Wythenshawe (now part of the borough of Manchester). She went to Whalley Range Grammar School for Girls (became the comprehensive Whalley Range High School in 1967) on Wilbraham Road in Whalley Range where she failed her English and French A-levels.

She is a graduate of the Coventry College of Education (merged with the University of Warwick in 1979 to become the Warwick Institute of Education), where she gained a BEd in 1974. Morris remembered the long-serving Principal, Joan Dillon Browne (1912-2009), as "a pioneer in showing what women could achieve, long before it was fashionable to do so."[1] Morris was a PE and Humanities teacher at the inner-city Sidney Stringer School on Cox Street in Coventry from 1974–92, becoming Head of Sixth Form Studies, and was a member of Warwick District Council from 1979 to 1991.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Morris was elected to Parliament in 1992 for Birmingham Yardley, gaining the seat from the Conservatives with only a wafer-thin majority of 162. She became a minister in the Department for Education and Employment in 1997 and was promoted to Secretary of State for Education and Skills in 2001. She was the first (former) comprehensive school teacher to have the position. She suddenly resigned her post in October 2002, explaining that she did not feel up to the job. She had made a commitment to the then Conservative Shadow Education Secretary, David Willetts to resign if the literacy and numeracy targets were not met.[2] In interviews following her resignation she stated that she had felt happier and more effective as a junior Education minister.

She rejoined the Government in 2003 as Minister for the Arts in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and caused further comment when she admitted that she did not know much about contemporary art. She stepped down from the government and as a Member of Parliament at the 2005 general election.

On 13 May 2005 it was announced that she would be created a life peer,[3] and she was conferred as Baroness Morris of Yardley, of Yardley in the County of West Midlands, on 14 June 2005.[4]

Career outside Parliament[edit]

In April 2005 she was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sunderland. In May 2005, she was appointed chair of the Children’s Workforce Development Council. In September 2005, it was announced that she would succeed Lady Kennedy of The Shaws as President of the National Children's Bureau. Since 2009 she has been chair of the Executive Group of the Institute for Effective Education at the University of York.


In 2004, Morris was awarded Honorary Doctorates in Arts from Leeds Metropolitan University[5] and in Education from the University of Wolverhampton.[6] She received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Bradford on 21 July 2005,[7] and the University of Chester on 18 March 2011,[8] on 18 July 2007 she was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Education by Manchester Metropolitan University in recognition of her contribution to education throughout a lifelong career as a dedicated teacher and politician with an education portfolio that has spanned ten years.[citation needed]


  1. ^
  2. ^ (Hansard – 2 March 1999 : Column 948)
  3. ^ Tempest, Matthew; and agencies (13 May 2005). "Labour becomes biggest party in Lords". Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 57677. p. 7919. 17 June 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  5. ^ "Summer Graduation 2004". Leeds Metropolitan University. Retrieved 25 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "Degree honour for actress and MP". BBC News Online. 12 September 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "Honorary Graduations at the University of Bradford, July 2005". University of Bradford. 15 July 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  8. ^ "A day to celebrate for hundreds of Chester graduates". University of Chester. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Bevan
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley
Succeeded by
John Hemming
Political offices
Preceded by
David Blunkett
Secretary of State for Education and Employment
Secretary of State for Education and Skills
Succeeded by
Charles Clarke
Preceded by
The Baroness Blackstone
Minister of State for the Arts
Succeeded by
David Lammy
as Minister of State for Culture