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."

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

More Nick Ferrari

See more More Nick Ferrari

The distraught caller was speaking to Nick Ferrari

'I can't afford my heating': Caller bursts into tears as cost of living crisis laid bare

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng spoke to LBC this morning

'Less than half my office is back at work': Business Sec Kwasi Kwarteng reveals in WFH row

Rachel Reeves spoke to Nick Ferrari this morning

Shadow Chancellor: Tax North Sea gas firms to help struggling families

Lord Stuart Rose, chairman of Asda, has welcomed the return to the office.

'Hallelujah': New Asda Chairman Lord Rose hails WFH end and says 'forget about Covid'

Nick Ferrari hit out at the former Tory MP

Nick Ferrari: It is shameful that Christian Wakeford defected to Labour with no by-election

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said Gary Neville "brings life to politics".

'He brings life to politics': Andy Burnham welcomes Gary Neville to the Labour team

Andy Burnham has said he cannot see how the Prime Minister can survive the partygate scandal.

Isn’t it time to go Boris? Andy Burnham tells LBC ‘I don’t see how the PM can survive’

Call Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham | Watch LIVE from 9am

Call Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham | Watch Again

James Heappey has said he is giving the PM the benefit of the doubt.

Boris 'deserves the benefit of the doubt' over partygate scandal, minister insists

Mr Heappey said Prince Andrew had been 'moved from public view'

Prince Andrew's Epstein and Maxwell links ‘horrifically ill-advised,' minister tells LBC

Nick Ferrari asked the question of Dominic Raab

'Who should my listeners believe on partygate? The PM or Dominic Cummings?'

Dominic Raab said Insulate Britain's actions are not "normal, peaceful protest, but sabotage"

Eco-mob protests are sabotage, Raab says as Govt pushes ahead with protest crackdown

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari

'T-levels, not Tory Leader': Nadhim Zahawi explains TL lapel badge

Nadhim Zahawi has called on Sir Keir Starmer to apologise

'Boris said sorry, Keir should too': Zahawi blasts Labour leader over partygate

No10 has apologised to Buckingham Palace

No10 says sorry to the Queen after lockdown-breaking party night before Philip's funeral

Tesco Chairman John Allan CBE

LBC Exclusive: Tesco Chairman says stores 'coping well' after Brexit