Andrew Davies, AM for South Wales Central, who previously held the transport portfolio, was challenged over his commitment to state schools after it emerged two of his four children are privately educated.
He told reporters that his eldest was moved to a private school after an "incident involving bullying", and his second was at an independent school with expertise in teaching children with dyslexia.
"I am a big advocate of the state and private school systems," said Mr Davies, who lives in the Vale of Glamorgan. "The state secondary serving me is excellent."
Mr Davies was quizzed at a staged press call about how, if in power, he would scrap the free breakfast scheme to pump money back into the foundation phase, which is facing huge shortfalls. However, his views on private education attracted the most interest.
The Welsh Conservatives appointed Mr Davies after Alun Cairns was suspended, and subsequently resigned, for anti-Italian slurs made on live Radio Cymru show Dau O'r Bau. Mr Cairns apologised for his remark, made against the Euro 2008 soccer side, after being prompted by presenter Vaughan Roderick on air.
Opinion is mixed over whether he should have stood down. On his blog, Labour MP Paul Flynn claimed Mr Cairns had been subjected to a witch-hunt.
But other AM's, including Caerphilly MP Wayne David, believe he had no choice.