Kirsty Williams

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Kirsty Williams

Kirsty Williams AM (28092338171).jpg
Williams in 2016
Minister for Education
Assumed office
19 May 2016[1]
First MinisterCarwyn Jones
Mark Drakeford
Preceded byHuw Lewis
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
In office
8 December 2008 – 6 May 2016
LeaderNick Clegg
Tim Farron
Preceded byMike German
Succeeded byMark Williams
In office
16 June 2017 – 3 November 2017
LeaderTim Farron
Vince Cable
Preceded byMark Williams
Succeeded byJane Dodds
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Wales
In office
21 August 2019 – 6 January 2020
Serving with Jane Dodds
Preceded byChristine Humphreys
Succeeded byWendy Chamberlain
In office
29 July 2015 – 6 May 2016
LeaderTim Farron
Preceded byThe Baroness Randerson
Succeeded byMark Williams
Member of the Senedd
for Brecon and Radnorshire
Assumed office
6 May 1999
Preceded byConstituency established
Majority8,170 (27.0%)
Personal details
Victoria Kirstyn Williams

(1971-03-19) 19 March 1971 (age 49)
Taunton, Somerset, England
Political partyLiberal Democrats
Spouse(s)Richard Rees
Alma materUniversity of Manchester Edit this at Wikidata

Victoria Kirstyn Williams CBE (born 19 March 1971) is a Welsh politician and has served as Minister for Education in the Welsh Government since May 2016. She has been a Member of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) since 1999. She previously served as the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats from December 2008 to May 2016 and subsequently from June 2017 to November 2017 in an acting capacity.[2]

Early and personal life[edit]

Williams was born in Taunton, Somerset to Welsh parents, whilst her librarian father was working there.[3][4] After moving to Liverpool,[4] in 1974 the family moved to the village of Bynea, Carmarthenshire, where she grew up.[3][4]

Educated at the independent St Michael's School, Llanelli, she then graduated from the Victoria University of Manchester with an honours degree in American studies,[3] including a period studying at the University of Missouri.[4] She then returned to work for the learning resources department of Carmarthenshire College in Llanelli, before taking up a post as a marketing and public relations executive for a small business in Cardiff.[3][4]

She is married to a farmer; the couple have three daughters and live on the family farm outside Brecon.[3][4]

Political career[edit]

Williams addressing the Liberal Democrats conference in the Harrogate International Centre in 2009

Williams joined the Welsh Liberal Democrats at the age of 15.[4] In the 1997 general election, she contested the constituency of Ogmore, coming third. For a long time she was a keen advocate of a Welsh Assembly, and she campaigned hard in the 1997 referendum for the creation of the National Assembly for Wales. She was subsequently appointed to the National Assembly Advisory Group by Welsh Secretary Ron Davies.[5]

She was elected as an Assembly Member of the National Assembly of Wales for the constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire in May 1999. In her first term she became her party's health spokesman. She also served as Chair of the Welsh Assembly Health and Social Care Committee between 1999 and 2003.[5]

In the 2006 Welsh Yearbook Political Awards, she was voted "Member to Watch 2006"[6] In a poll at the end of 2006, Williams was voted "Sexiest Female Liberal Democrat" on Stephen Tall's Liberal Goes a Long Way blog.[7]

On 8 December 2008, Williams became leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, having defeated Cardiff Central Assembly Member Jenny Randerson.[8]

In 2011, as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, she agreed to support the Welsh Labour Government's 2012–2013 £14.5bn Budget on the basis, amongst other things, of securing the Welsh Pupil Premium: an extra £20m to spend on the education of the poorest pupils.[9] Teaching Unions welcomed the deal, with ATL Cymru director Philip Dixon saying, "Our children are our future and investment in them is investment for all. Labour and the Lib Dems deserve credit for ensuring that our children, especially those in most need, will now get a better start in life."[10]

In 2013, Williams and the Welsh Liberal Democrats more than doubled investment for the Welsh Pupil Premium in exchange for abstaining on the Welsh government's annual budget.[11]

Williams has gained a reputation for campaigning on health issues. In 2012, the Welsh Government agreed to take forward the Welsh Liberal Democrat idea of a Health Technology Fund to allow patients better access to innovative treatments.[12] The following year, the Welsh Liberal Democrats achieved a further £9.5m investment into the Health Technology Fund as well as the establishment of a £50m Intermediate Care Fund to drive integration of health, social services and housing.[13]

In December 2012, Williams won ITV Wales' Assembly Member of the Year Award in a ceremony at Cardiff's City Hall. In the Queen's Birthday Honours 2013, Williams was appointed Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for public and political service.[14]

Williams has been part of a long-running ‘More Nurses’ campaign for a law requiring minimum staffing levels for nurses in Welsh hospitals. Kirsty Williams was successful in a legislative ballot (bill passed by a single member is rare) on 11 December 2013, and given leave to proceed with her Bill In 2014, Nurse Staffing Levels Bill.[15] It was passed and became law in Wales on 21 March 2016.[16]

In the elections to the Welsh Assembly on 5 May 2016 Williams retained her Brecon and Radnorshire seat with an increased majority. However, as the sole Liberal Democrat representative in the new Assembly, she stood down as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats the day after the election.[17] On the first day of plenary she voted with the Government on the appointment of the First Minister if she would have voted for Leanne Wood she would of become First Minister.[18] First Minister Carwyn Jones appointed her to the Welsh Cabinet as Education Secretary; 31 seats are needed for a majority in the Welsh Assembly, Labour had 29, so Williams joining with the Labour administration created a working majority.

On 16 June 2017, Williams once again became leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, on an acting basis, after the defeat of the previous leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Mark Williams MP, in the 2017 general election.[2]

She is at the forefront of curriculum reform in Wales and introduced the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill on 6 July 2020.[19]

She was widely criticised with the implantation of algorithm to award exam grades in 2020 in what was known as 2020 exam fiasco.[20]

On 27 October 2020 she announced that she would not be seeking re-election in the 2021 Senedd election, saying that she was "looking forward to spending more time with my family and I remain committed to my role in Brecon and Radnorshire and look forward to continuing to campaign with my successor to ensure Brecon and Radnorshire returns a Welsh Liberal Democrat voice."[20]


  1. ^ Known as Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills until 13 Dec 2018
  2. ^ a b "Liberal Democrats announce Shadow Cabinet". Liberal Democrats. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Kirsty Williams AM". Welsh Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Kirsty Williams AM". National Assembly for Wales. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Kirsty Williams". BBC. 1 September 1999. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  6. ^ "ITV News: Latest UK and regional news". ITV News.
  7. ^ Tall, Stephen (1 January 2007). "A Liberal Goes A Long Way: Sexiest female and male Lib Dems - final poll results".
  8. ^ "Williams election 'breaks mould'". BBC News. 8 December 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  9. ^ "Welsh budget: Labour and Lib Dems reach agreement". BBC News. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Welsh budget deal: Teachers welcome poor pupil cash boost". BBC News. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  11. ^ Williams, Kirsty. "Kirsty Williams writes... Welsh Lib Dems more than double Welsh Pupil Premium". Liberal Democrat Voice. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  12. ^ "Welsh Government praise for Lib Dem ideas". ITV. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  13. ^ ""Delivering our priorities: A fair Budget for Wales" – Jane Hutt". Welsh Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  14. ^ "No. 60534". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 2013. p. 9.
  15. ^ "Nurse numbers law plans to be scrutinised". BBC. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016". 1 December 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Assembly Election 2016: Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams stands down". Wales Online. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  18. ^ "What does Kirsty Williams' exit mean for the Lib Dems and Welsh politics?". Nation.Cymru. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  19. ^ "Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill". 3 July 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Education Minister Kirsty Williams MS to stand down at next Senedd election". ITV News. 27 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.

External links[edit]

Senedd Cymru
New constituency Member of the Senedd
for Brecon and Radnorshire

Political offices
Preceded by
Huw Lewis
Cabinet Secretary for Education
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mike German
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by
Mark Williams
Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Senedd
Preceded by
Mark Williams
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

Succeeded by
Jane Dodds