Minister resigns in row over primary school closure


A former teacher has taken over as Wales’s education minster after the shock resignation of Leighton Andrews.

Huw Lewis, from Merthyr Tydfil, is a former chemistry teacher. He moves across from his post as minister for communities and tackling poverty. 

The cabinet reshuffle marks the end of the four-year reign of one of Wales’s most fearless and decisive politicians. Mr Andrews resigned after a row over his defence of a school which faced closure under his own surplus places policy.

He had been seen holding a banner in support of Pentre Primary School in his Rhondda constituency. And when first minister Carwyn Jones failed to defend him from criticism from opposition parties, he stated he had no other option than to resign.

Mr Andrews stated he was simply standing up for his constituents as Rhondda’s assembly member. However he recognised there was sometimes tension between the role of a government minister and the demands of a constituency assembly member.

Mr Lewis, pictured, takes over the job at a difficult time with six local education authorities in special measures and the results of the international Pisa survey looming. In recent years Wales has performed poorly. 

However he said he was delighted to take-up the post adding: “My first priority will be to build on the fantastic foundations that Leighton Andrews has laid in above all standards of education. That has to be at the centre of my concerns, as it was his.

“I also bring a deep concern about the attainment gap between those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder and those that are better off. I think it holds us back as a nation, and that will be at the forefront of my mind.”

Commenting on the cabinet reshuffle, Dr Philip Dixon, director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru said he was shocked at Mr Andrews’ resignation adding that while unions had not always agreed with his policy no-one could doubt his commitment to the job.

Welcoming Mr Lewis to the post Dr Dixon added: “There is an immense amount of work to be done as we continue to improve our schools and colleges and make them the best in the world. We will need a minister who is prepared to listen but also prepared to make tough decisions.”

CAPTION: Former teacher: Wales’s new education minister is Huw Lewis


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