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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 21:57 GMT 22:57 UK
Morris 'didn't always enjoy the job'
Prime Minister Tony Blair and Estelle Morris
Morris said she had enjoyed Tony Blair's support
Education secretary Estelle Morris has told the BBC she found it tough running a huge government department.

Speaking as she resigned from her post as Secretary of State, Ms Morris said she had not enjoyed the high-profile attention and pressure the job entailed.

She said: "If I'm honest I haven't enjoyed it as much as Minister for Schools Standards.


I just don't think I am as good at it as I was at my other job - I am not having second best in a post that is as important as this

Estelle Morris

"One of the reasons I have not enjoyed it is it that it needs a different set of skills.

"It is a lot about strategic management, you have to balance not only schools - which I love - but other parts of the portfolio as well."

She added: "I just don't think I am as good at it as I was at my other job.

"I am not having second best in a post that is as important as this and that is why I have made the decision.

"But it is not about policy differences, it is not about anything like that."

Media scrutiny

Ms Morris said she wished problems in recent months had "never happened" but said she felt the government had responded in a way that the profession and public could have confidence in.

Fiascos have surrounded the marking of A-level papers and delays in vetting teachers for the new year.

Tony Blair
Blair: wants Estelle Morris to return to government

Mrs Morris said she accepted and appreciated such challenges were all part of the job.

However, she said the pressure of media scrutiny had been difficult to cope with.

"I don't find modern media and the way it deals with politicians easy," she explained.

"It has to do it, I don't argue with that, but it is intrusive and I wouldn't pretend that I find it easy."

Ms Morris added: "I wouldn't be telling it straight if I said it was water off a duck's back and it doesn't make a difference to me.

"It does make a difference and I haven't enjoyed it."

School delivery

The education secretary said she did not believe she had been out of her depth and insisted she was proud of reforms being pushed through in secondary schools and further education.

She said: "I know what my strengths are, I know about schools, I know about delivery.

"I think I can relate to head teachers and parents and I think I can drive through policy on schools.

"I hope I have played my part in contributing to that for our government over the last seven years."

But she added: "You have to be tough on yourself in areas as important as this and I judge my own performance as not being quite good enough - full stop."

Ms Morris said she had told the prime minister about her decision on Tuesday.

Mr Blair had discussed the issue with her and asked her to think about things overnight.

However, Ms Morris said she had confirmed her decision upon speaking to him again on Wednesday evening.

She said: "He was more generous than I could have expected and that has pleased me a great deal.

"He has confidence in my ability to do the job and I think he is proud of his government's achievements."

Ms Morris said it meant a great deal that Mr Blair had said he wanted her to return to government at some point.

She said she had lost none of her energy, drive or commitment for politics or education.


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