Nadhim Zahawi has been confirmed as the new Education Secretary in a reshuffle of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.
The former Vaccines Minister will take over from Gavin Williamson.
Zahawi previous served in the Department for Education as Minister for Children and Families during Theresa May’s premiership, and he was then made Minister for Industry after Johnson became Prime Minister.
He was made Minister for Vaccine Deployment in November 2020, and it is believed the success of the rollout is linked to this promotion.
Zahawi’s immediate responsibilities will include a much-delayed response to the Augar review of post-18 education, which will be issued after the comprehensive spending review on 27 October.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The NEU congratulates the new Secretary of State for Education on being appointed to the most important position in the Cabinet.
“We hope that Nadhim Zahawi shows a passion and an interest in education and realises the power that valued education professionals have to transform the lives of young people.”
The new Secretary of State must be a strong advocate in government for schools and colleges to be given the resources and funding they need to support education recovery for all children and young people
– Dr Mary Bousted
“The new Secretary of State must be a strong advocate in government for schools and colleges to be given the resources and funding they need to support education recovery for all children and young people.”
“There can be no more important priority for the future of our nation. The money promised to schools to date is a small fraction of the amount judged to be needed by the government’s former education recovery tsar. This must be rectified in the Spending Review if we are to make sure that no child is left behind after the pandemic.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed Mr Zahawi to the role.
He said: “The missteps that have occurred during Mr Williamson’s tenure are well-known, and it would be ungracious to rehearse them again now. For our part we have always sought to work with Mr Williamson constructively over the course of the pandemic and we thank him for his engagement with us.
“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.”