Ex-education secretary gives Williamson damning grade for pandemic performance

6 January 2021, 12:53

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Former education secretary Justine Greening has graded Gavin Williamson's performance through the pandemic as 'Must Try Harder'.

Speaking on Nick Ferrari's morning show, the ex-MP told LBC that Mr Williamson must listen to and collaborate with frontline teachers rather than continuing to adopt his "adversarial approach".

It comes after pupils and students in England were told this year's GCSE and A-Level exams will be scrapped, plus schools, universities and colleges will be shut due to rising coronavirus cases.

The education secretary has been criticised for a number of U-turns while in his post, including last year's A-Level exams fiasco, primary and secondary closures, and whether face masks should be worn in schools.

Nick Ferrari told Ms Greening he would give the education secretary a C+ for his performance so far, before asking the former MP how she would grade Mr Williamson.

"I think mine would probably be 'Must Try Harder'," Ms Greening said, before Nick asked: "In what areas Justine?"

"All areas," she replied.

Read more: Williamson to outline support package after GCSEs and A-Levels scrapped

Read more: Schools and colleges given choice over whether to hold BTec exams

Justine Greening told LBC that Gavin Williamson's grade would be 'Must Try Harder'
Justine Greening told LBC that Gavin Williamson's grade would be 'Must Try Harder'. Picture: LBC

The former education secretary said Mr Williamson should "particularly" listen to teachers on the frontline "who are doing their best in an incredibly tough environment" rather than be combative "as we saw before Christmas".

"What we need to hear from Gavin Williamson's statement today, it's a really important moment, not just for him, but more importantly for schools, children, teachers and parents," she said.

"He needs to start working in partnership and he shouldn't see sitting down with unions or the teaching profession as a sign of weakness.

"What he needs to do is get things right the first time.

"He'll get things right first time by starting to work collaboratively with frontline staff and listen to what they're actually saying and then we'll avoid situations like the week before Christmas where he was threatening to take legal action against councils, for example in London, and then immediately after Christmas doing exactly what they were saying which was to keep schools closed."

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