Life before politics
Gillian was born in Leigh, Lancashire, and attended a state primary school in Yorkshire. This was followed by St Augustine of Canterbury Secondary School in Knowsley, Merseyside.
After leaving school at 16, Gillian started work as an apprentice at Delco Electronics, a subsidiary of General Motors, in Kirkby. As part of her apprenticeship in manufacturing, Gillian was sponsored to study a degree in Business Studies at Liverpool John Moores University.
Following her apprenticeship, Gillian continued to build her career in business. For almost 30 years she lived and worked abroad for companies in the manufacturing, banking and IT sectors, including eight years based in Madrid. Most recently she was the Chief Marketing Officer for a global travel tech company. In 2010 Gillian spent a year studying for a Sloan Fellowship Master’s degree at the London Business School. Her studies focussed on technology and strategy and leadership.
In 2014 she switched her focus to politics and worked with Baroness Jenkin and Women2Win, an organisation dedicated to helping more Conservative women enter politics. She was first elected as a local councillor in October 2014 and in May 2015 she stood as the Conservative candidate in St Helens South and Whiston, Merseyside, gaining second place for the Conservatives for the first time.
She is married to Michael (pictured) and has two stepsons.
Life as your MP
Gillian was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Chichester in June 2017, and re-elected in 2019. She was elected to the Public Accounts Select Committee in September 2017. The Committee scrutinises public spending and generally holds the government and its civil servants to account for the delivery of public services.
In December 2018, she was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Her Majesty’s Treasury serving the Ministerial portfolio.
Gillian was then later promoted to serve as the principal PPS at the Ministry of Defence serving the Secretary of State, and several months later she was elevated again to serve as the PPS to the Home Secretary, a position she held until August 2019. She also served as the PPS to the Health Secretary at the Department for Health and Social Care.
She has held many Government positions, Gillian was elevated to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills - she was the first apprentice to hold this role. She then served as Minister of State at the Department for Health and Social Care, where she was the Minister responsible for Care and Mental Health. She also served as the Minister for Africa, integral in the planning for COP27.
Before entering Government, Gillian was very active, frequently participating in debates both in the Chamber and Westminster Hall. She sat on several All Party Parliamentary Groups on issues covering cancer care, international development and education.
When Rishi Sunak, became the Prime Minister in October 2022, he promoted Gillian to Cabinet, making her the Secretary of State for Education. Since her appointment, she has continued to champion apprenticeships, with a record number of degree apprenticeships, allowing you to become a lawyer, chartered accountant or doctor without the need to incur large students debts. She has procured record levels of funding for schools, and continues to support SEN places, making sure that support is there for all additional needs. She has recently announced a BSL GCSE course, the first of its kind in the UK. Gillian has led an absence task force, which has resulted in 380,000 fewer children persistently absent in schools in comparison to last year. She has recently announced the 21st Institute of Technology, delivering on the 2019 manifesto promise of 20 IOTs.
Gillian thoroughly enjoys visiting all areas of the constituency, supporting local businesses and individuals. She spends a large part of her week supporting the members of Chichester every week.