New Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi promises to listen to pupils after Gavin Williamson axed

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Nadhim Zahawi gets job in Cabinet  (PA Wire)
Nadhim Zahawi gets job in Cabinet (PA Wire)

New Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi promised to listen to young people and families.

He took on the job after Gavin Williamson was sent back to the backbenches in the reshuffle.

The 54-year-old MP for Stratford-on-Avon has been seen as one of the government’s success stories for his handling of the vaccine rollout.

He said education was a “crucial part” of the Government’s levelling-up agenda and he said it is an “honour” to be appointed Secretary of State.

He said: “Children and young people have had a tough time during this pandemic and I’ll be listening to them and their families as we accelerate our work to build back better and fairer.

“From my own experience, I know what a beacon of opportunity this country can be and I want all children, young people and adults to have access to a brilliant education, the right qualifications and opportunities to secure good jobs.

“That’s both vital for them and also our economy, and is more important now than ever before.”

He inherits a series of challenges from Mr Williamson including how to handle the Government’s education recovery package for pupils amid the pandemic.

Born in Baghdad in Iraq, Mr Zahawi was privately educated at King’s College School in Wimbledon.

Mr Zahawi previously served as children and families minister in the DfE from January 2018 to July 2019.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, said one of the “most pressing tasks” facing the new education secretary will be to ensure the Government “fulfils its promise to deliver a properly funded recovery package”.

“With the comprehensive spending review only weeks away, there really is no time to waste,” he said.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), added: “The Department for Education may now be under new management but the same challenges remain.

“More ambition is needed on post-Covid education recovery, investment in schools and colleges, support for children with special educational needs, and closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.”

He added: “What our members need from the new education secretary is a greater sense of strategy and support than has been the case in the past so that we can together provide children and young people with the very best start in life.”

Mr Zahawi, who studied chemical engineering at the University College London (UCL), was co-founder and chief executive of market research agency YouGov before becoming an MP in 2010.

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