Huw Lewis is named Wales education minister
- 26 June 2013
- From the section Wales
Huw Lewis is named as the new education minister in the Welsh government.
He replaces Leighton Andrews who resigned following a row over his support for a school in his Rhondda constituency which faced closure under his own surplus places policy.
Jeff Cuthbert joins the cabinet to take over from Mr Lewis as minister for communities and tackling poverty.
Ken Skates replaces Mr Cuthbert as deputy minister for skills and technology.
Vaughan Gething is appointed to work with Mr Cuthbert in a newly created post of deputy minister for tackling poverty.
A former chemistry teacher, Mr Lewis said via Twitter that he was "delighted" to be appointed to the post.
He told BBC Wales his first priority was to build "on the fantastic foundations that Leighton Andrews has laid in terms of, above all, standards within Welsh education".
He added: "I also bring a deep concern about the attainment gap between those at the bottom of the social-economic ladder...and those that are better off.
"I think that holds them back - it holds us back as a nation and it'll be at the forefront of my mind".
Mr Andrews used Twitter to wish his successor well.
He said: "Congratulations to @HuwLewis on taking over at education and skills.
"He will keep a strong focus on raising standards."
'Consensus and conviction'
Born in Merthyr Tydfil, Mr Lewis describes education as one of his interests, along with the challenges facing the South Wales valleys.
He served as Welsh Labour Party assistant general secretary before his election to the assembly on its creation in 1999 as the member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney.
NUT Wales Secretary David Evans welcome the appointment of Mr Lewis, saying he looked forward to working closely with him.
"There are a number of challenges facing the education sector over the coming weeks, months and years and it is important that they are tackled with consensus and conviction," he said.
"We are sure that the minister will seek to ensure that the expertise of teaching unions, and other important voices, are all part of his thinking," Mr Evans added.
Conservative education spokesperson Angela Burns said she looked forward to working with Mr Lewis who was taking over from "the only minister with the drive to actually do anything".
She said: "The new minister faces a full in-tray and I urge him to carefully consider a new direction on school banding, the possibility of retaining the three-country GCSE and the sustainability of higher education funding."
Plaid Cymru education spokesman Simon Thomas said he looked forward to having a "constructive working relationship" with Mr Lewis in his new role.
Mr Thomas also welcomed a decision by First Minister Carwyn Jones to take on responsibility for the Welsh language, which had been part of Mr Andrews' portfolio.