New Education Minister Huw Lewis starts first day in job

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Media captionHuw Lewis pledged to build on Leighton Andrews' work

Wales' new Education Minister Huw Lewis is starting his first full day in the job after a reshuffle prompted by the resignation of Leighton Andrews.

Mr Andrews quit after a row over his support for a school in his Rhondda constituency, which faced closure under his own surplus places policy.

His successor said his priority was to build on "fantastic foundations" Mr Andrews laid for improving standards.

The arrival of Mr Lewis, a former teacher, was welcomed by unions.

David Evans, the secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Wales, said: "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."

Mr Lewis said he already has a full in-tray with six local education authorities in special measures, and decisions to be made on the future of higher education.

Following his appointment on Wednesday, 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."

Born in Merthyr Tydfil, Mr Lewis is a former chemistry teacher and describes education as one of his interests.

Other Welsh government cabinet changes include Jeff Cuthbert, who takes 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.

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