What does Gavin Williamson actually do all day, asks James O'Brien

20 August 2020, 11:19

By Adrian Sherling

Gavin Williamson received a letter six weeks ago from a former chief at the Dept of Education warning the A-level algorithm is not fit for purpose. So if he didn't make amends in those six weeks, what on earth does he do all day, asks James O'Brien.

Sir Jon Coles, a former director-general at the Department for Education, insisted that the algorithm would lead to hundreds of thousands of students receiving the wrong grades.

That letter was sent at the beginning of July, despite Mr Williamson's claim that the issues with the algorithm only became apparent last weekend.

And James O'Brien asked that if he didn't use those six weeks to fine-tune and fix the algorithm, then what exactly does he do?

Speaking on his LBC show, he said: "What does he actually do all day? If you're the Secretary of State for Education and you get a letter from a former director-general of the Department for Education warning you that the algorithm used to assess A-level results is not fit for purpose - and you have six weeks in which to make amends, to make improvements, to change your mind, what do you actually do all day?

James O'Brien asked why Gavin Williamson didn't act over the A-level algorithm
James O'Brien asked why Gavin Williamson didn't act over the A-level algorithm. Picture: LBC / PA

"What does he do, apart from sitting there arranging whips on his desk and staring moodily into camera lenses while taking a manly swig of coffee?

"It seems to be inconceivable that considering and reflecting upon the contents of a letter from the former director-general of the Department for Education warning you that the algorithm used to assess A-level results is a mess, that you can go all the way to results day without having even looked at it.

"Then on Thursday, you come out and defend the fact that you haven't taken any notice of the warnings and swearing blind that under no circumstances whatsoever will you be doing what they have already done in Scotland by returning to the centre-assessed grades.

"Fast forward five days and they do precisely what they swore blind they wouldn't do.

"And still he sits in the Department for Education."

James had just as much scorn for Schools Minister Nick Gibb and his claims that he considered resigning, but decided it was not the right thing to do, likening that to students choosing their own grades.

Watch the monologue at the top of the page.