Former child refugee Nadhim Zahawi who arrived in Britain aged nine without a word of English continues his stellar rise as the new Education Secretary

  • Nadhim Zahawi, 54, is appointed to role of Education Secretary in reshuffle
  • Mr Zahawi fled Iraq under Saddam Hussein with his family while he was a child
  • One of  wealthiest members of Parliament, he set up polling company YouGov

Nadhim Zahawi, who arrived in Britain as a nine-year-old boy unable to speak English, was promoted to Education Secretary yesterday, replacing Gavin Williamson.

The former health minister was rewarded with a Cabinet role after the successful rollout of vaccines across the UK.

Mr Zahawi, 54, who fled Iraq under Saddam Hussein with his family when he was a child, gave a double-thumbs up as he left No 10 yesterday after accepting his new job.

The MP for Stratford-on-Avon will face a difficult brief at the Department for Education, which has struggled to manage the virus’s impact on schooling during the pandemic and it will be a tough job to win back the trust of parents.

Nadhim Zahawi (pictured), who arrived in Britain as a nine-year-old boy unable to speak English, was promoted to Education Secretary yesterday, replacing Gavin Williamson

But, as a former schools minister before his promotion to vaccines minister, he has experience of the department. 

He said: ‘From my own experience, I know what a beacon of opportunity this country can be and I want all children, young people and adults to have access to a brilliant education, the right qualifications and opportunities to secure good jobs.

‘That’s both vital for them and also our economy and is more important now than ever before.’

Mary Bousted of the NEU teaching union, said: ‘We hope that Nadhim Zahawi shows a passion and an interest in education and realises the power that valued education professionals have to transform the lives of young people.’

Geoff Barton of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘The Department for Education may now be under new management but the same challenges remain.’


Geoff Barton (pictured left)  of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the ‘same challenges remain.’ Mary Bousted (pictured right) of the NEU teaching union, said she hopes Nadhim Zahawi ‘shows a passion and an interest in education’

Mr Zahawi was privately-educated at King’s College School in west London. He studied chemical engineering at University College London. 

One of the wealthiest members of Parliament, he set up polling company YouGov.

He is said to have a property empire worth around £100million.

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