Nadhim Zahawi appointed education secretary in ‘build back better’ reshuffle

He is a former apprenticeships adviser to the prime minister

He is a former apprenticeships adviser to the prime minister

The former children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed as education secretary in Boris Johnson’s reshuffle.

He replaces Gavin Williamson, who was sacked earlier today.

It will be Zahawi’s second stint at the Department for Education. The MP for Stratford-upon-Avon was children’s minister from January 2018 to July 2019.

He is believed to be the first ever non-white education secretary.

The move is seen as a reward for Zahawi’s role overseeing the roll-out of Covid jabs as the government’s vaccines minister.

He served as the prime minister’s apprenticeships adviser for a period in 2016.

In 2018, Zahawi was reportedly “dressed down” by a government whip for attending the Presidents Club charity dinner, after the event was rocked by sexual harassment allegations. He kept his job at the time but David Meller, the co-chair of the event, resigned from the DfE’s board in the aftermath.

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

He co-founded the well-known research firm YouGov, where he was chief executive until 2010. He was also chief strategy officer for Gulf Keystone Petroleum until 2018.

Following his appointment, the new education secretary said: “Education is a crucial part of our levelling up agenda so it’s an honour to be back at the Department for Education as Secretary of State.

“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. 

“I can’t wait to get started, working with the amazing teachers and staff in our nurseries, schools, colleges and universities as well as employers and businesses.”

Chief Executive of Association of Colleges David Hughes welcomed Zahawi’s appointment as he “knows the college sector well”.

“I absolutely expect that he will pick up the baton and continue to champion colleges and their role in recovering from the pandemic and the levelling up agenda,” he said.

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