Arise, Lord Jim... former schools minister picks up a peerage

4th June 2010 at 01:00
Jim Knight is one of a clutch of high-profile figures from the world of education honoured, including Beverley Hughes and Nat Wei

A week ago former schools minister Jim Knight was busy searching for a new job, hoping to use the education skills picked up during his time in office. Now the defeated Labour MP, who lost his seat at the general election to a Tory, has secured a surprise return to Westminster having been given a peerage.

The new Lord Knight, who was popular with teachers during his time at the former Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) between 2006 and 2009, said he was "delighted" by his unexpected return to Parliament.

He was not the only figure from the world of education to be elevated to the House of Lords last Friday. Others include Lord Knight's former DCSF colleague Beverley Hughes and Nat Wei, the founder of Teach First and Future Leaders.

The stepmother of Guy Ritchie, film director and ex-husband of Madonna, will be a Tory peer. Shireen Ritchie is a councillor in Kensington and Chelsea and is chair of the Local Government Association's children and young people's board.

Lord Knight says he is now deciding which title to take. He could choose from Lord Knight of Weymouth, Portland, Chesil or Nottington, all areas in Dorset South, the constituency he represented.

"I will campaign on issues locally and nationally," he said. "I will use my new status to try to bring people together to improve things, and highlight problems as I see them in Dorset. I will want to continue to hear from people about these wider issues to inform my work."

Lord Wei is now on the management team of the charity ARK, which runs academy schools. He will help the new Government come up with ideas for its "Big Society" policy.

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