New Welsh Education Minister Huw Lewis' big decisions

Huw Lewis Huw Lewis can be fiery but is thoughtful

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Huw Lewis now has one of the biggest jobs in the Welsh cabinet - that's both in terms of the size of the budget and in terms of the policy portfolio, and he's already got a bulging in-tray.

He has six local education authorities in special measures to be deal with.

He has the results of an international tests for school children to look forward to - the so-called Pisa results that Wales has performed very poorly over the last few years. They're due later in the year so he will be scrutinised on those.

And there are big decisions coming up on higher education in the way student finance works. The Welsh government has gone its own way on that over the past few years, but is that sustainable as we get closer to the next assembly election?

Those are the big decisions that fall on Mr Lewis to make.

Leighton Andrews has left Wales with this idea that education across the board is somehow underachieving.

HUW LEWIS FACTFILE

  • Born: 17 January 1964, son of an engineer and a nurse
  • Education: Afon Taf High School, University of Edinburgh (chemistry) and Open University
  • Family: Married to Lynne Neagle (Torfaen AM); two children
  • Work: Teacher 1988-89 and 1990-94; researcher to Nigel Griffiths MP 1989-90, head of organisation and asst gen sec Wales Lab Party 1994-99
  • Political career: AM for Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney 1999-, deputy education minister 2000-01; communities 2003-07; economy 2007; children 2009-11; housing minister 2011-13; communities and tackling poverty March-June 2013; education minister 2013-

There have been this big failures in the past so the question for Mr Lewis is does he agree with that and how does he cope with the legacy that's been left by Mr Andrews?

He is a thoughtful politician, and he is a very principled politician. It's worth remembering he's resigned twice from the Welsh government from more junior jobs than this one.

He was the man First Minister Carwyn Jones beat to the Welsh Labour leadership back in 2009 and since then he's had quite a low profile, it's fair to say. But that's all going to change now.

Mr Lewis is a very tribal politician in one way and very quick to attack his political opponents - we'll hear a great of that from the Senedd chamber, I'm sure.

He was portrayed in that leadership election as being on the left wing of the Labour party although I'm not sure that is quite fair.

He is certainly a party man and worked for the Labour party before being elected, and before that he was a teacher so he does have some background in education.

Mr Lewis can be fiery when he has to be but he is a thoughtful man and I believe he will bring a different tone to the job than we saw from Leighton Andrews.

But I don't think he's going to hold back in the same way Mr Andrews didn't hold back when he thought that Welsh education and Welsh institutions weren't really performing in the way they wanted them to.

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