Cabinet reshuffle

Nadhim Zahawi: 12 facts about the new education secretary

Downing Street has announced that Nadhim Zahawi is the new education secretary following Boris Johnson’s reshuffle.

Here is what we know about him…

1. Born in 1967, Nadhim Zahawi is 54 years old, five years older than the average starting age of education secretaries, 49. But he’s far from the oldest person to take the job – Keith Joseph was 63.

2. Zahawi is the first non-white education secretary in history.

3. He was born in Iraq, but his family fled Saddam Hussein’s regime, and Zahawi came to the UK when he was nine. He grew up in Sussex. However, he is not the first education secretary to have been born outside the UK – that was Rab Butler.

4. Zahawi was educated initially at the comprehensive Holland Park school before moving to the private Ibstock Place and King’s College schools in London. The vast majority of past education secretaries were also privately educated.

5. An often touchy subject, but as the role involves children so directly it will be mentioned at times: Nadhim Zahawi has three children. The average for other education secretaries is 1.76. The most common number of children is zero.

6. Zahawi studied chemical engineering at University College London, the first education secretary to study that particular subject, though Margaret Thatcher’s degree was in chemistry.

7. He was an aide to Conservative politician Jeffrey Archer in the early 1990s. He co-founded the polling company YouGov in 2000.

8. According to the Guardian, Zahawi spent much of his parliamentary career working as chief strategy officer for Gulf Keystone Petrolium, which paid him up to £30,000 a month for his work. The paper also reported in 2017 that Zahawi had spent more than £25 million on property.

9. Zahawi has some experience in the education sphere. He was an apprenticeships adviser to Downing Street during the Coalition years, and later served as children’s minister.

10. According to website theyworkforyou, Zahawi has “consistently” voted for greater autonomy for schools and in support of the academies programme.

11. His predecessor, Gavin Williamson, was in role for 785 days. The average is 840. If Zahawi stays in office for the average number of days he will leave on January 3 2024.

12. Zahawi revealed to our sister paper FE Week in 2016 that along with his wife Lana, he is keen horse rider. He owns a stables at his Warwickshire home.

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  1. Oh goodie yet another unqualified politician for education minister. What on earth does he know about schools? Has he ever been a teacher? No! Head teacher? No! Ofsted inspector?? Erm, No! Has he ever followed the life of a teacher? No! What joy for us already under valued, over worked teachers jumping through so many hoops already. I wonder what new initiative he will try to implement. Makes me so angry, no wonder the retention of teachers is so diabolical. Please appoint someone with a background in education.

  2. david rolf johnson

    I worship this man. Nick Robinson, on Today, was so exasperated about his inability/unwillingness to answer any question – except with the answer to another question – that he gave up and expressed his exasperation after a fashion that I have never previously heard broadcast.
    Zahawi is perfect for education, follwing in the line of incompetents of the order of Williamson and Gove.