Not Now Nadim! 

With his not-to-dusty track record as vaccines minister behind him, Nadhim Zahawi is about to make waves in his role as Education Secretary. Speaking to the TES just the other day, alongside an accompanying photo which suggests he means business, he spoke of his urgent plans for schools.

The steely resolution and determination with which he presents himself could be just the antidote to the otherwise mayhemic week the Tories have had. The timing of this apparently-urgent scrutiny will unlikely be welcome, as many schools continue to reel in the wake of COVID havoc.

For many school leaders, staff development and professional learning will have been on the backburner while more pressing issues have had to take priority. So, will this have left schools at a potentially greater risk of reproval? Nadim’s backstory makes him interesting in his role.

Originally an immigrant from Hussein’s Iraq, Nadim arrived in the UK with his family and joined a comprehensive primary school with little English. What he describes of his schooling experience in West London is less than positive. For Nadim, his subsequent success in his education boiled down to his parents’ encouragement and insistence on a strong work ethic. He went on to be publicly educated. Nadim’s motives to ‘provide opportunities for every pupil, regardless of background or circumstance’ are noble and welcome, but will undoubtedly derive in part from his own experiences some 43 years previously.

Although there is always work to be done, we have to hope that he will give due regard to the positive developments in recent years on the provision of education to disadvantaged children and allow for individual schools’ struggles with the effects of the pandemic.

Emma Gardner

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