Shelagh Fogarty 1pm - 4pm
Eddie Mair confronts Tory MP over face mask U-Turn and exam result chaos
26 August 2020, 18:35
Eddie Mair confronted Tory MP Marcus Fysh on both the Prime Minister's face mask U-turn and the "mutant algorithm" that caused exam results chaos.
Boris Johnson has abandoned yesterday's advice that pupils should not wear face masks in English secondary schools.
Instead face coverings will be mandatory in communal areas and corridors for children in regions of local lockdowns. For other parts of England, headteachers will retain discretion on this decision.
Eddie Mair asked Tory MP Marcus Fysh how he thinks the Government has been handling education after this and the recent exam results fiasco.
After Mr Fysh did not give a direct response, Eddie pushed him to answer how much confidence the public has in Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson after multiple U-turns.
Eddie reminded Mr Fysh that on Monday the Government confirmed it would not change its advice on face masks in schools and on Tuesday Alok Sharma confirmed the same: "Following Scotland once again, Boris Johnson then ultimately changed his mind at least 48 hours perhaps after he should have."
Mr Fysh responded that there is a "crucial difference" for what's happening in Scotland as they have "applied masks across the board and that I don't think is right at all", something, he said, he has told Nicola Sturgeon.
"Now we've got transmission right down to minimal levels it is now safe to go back into schools, it is now safe to go back to work and get on with life," Mr Fysh said, "we need to get back on with our lives now."
Eddie cited the Prime Minister's speech to students where he blamed the "mutant algorithm" from regulator Ofqual for the exam chaos; he questioned why there have been resignations from Ofqual's chief and a senior civil servant in the Department for Education - but no one "party political."
Mr Fysh admitted, "It has been a bit patchy and many children haven't been getting the education they deserve and the service that they deserve."
Eddie pushes where the responsibility for this lies, suggesting Education Secretary Gavin Williamson should look at his position.
"Everybody obviously has to look at what's happened and learn from the mistakes... I do think we need consistency at this time and leadership on it," Mr Fysh continued, "I know he's got a great plan for education and I don't think any more uncertainty at this point is going to add for outcomes for children."
The Tory MP insisted that the Department for Education was briefed by Ofqual that "things were going to be OK and were only going to affect a couple of percent of pupils" and the system "would in fact work."
Mr Fysh told Eddie he thinks Gavin Williamson "was advised quite badly at times."