Yet it is also no surprise that four in five school staff feel their own wellbeing has been adversely affected when set in the context of Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s disastrous leadership.
He was patently under-qualified for the role when appointed by Boris Johnson in July 2019 in return for his loyalty over Brexit, schools policy has lurched from one crisis to another during the lockdown. The consequence has been multiple calls by this newspaper, and others, for Mr Williamson’s resignation, for two primary reasons – disarray over exams and ‘lost learning’, and the DfE’s reluctance, on his watch to embrace the wider ‘levelling up’ strategy.
And while Mr Johnson has resisted these calls because the loss of the Minister would be tantamount to an admission of failure on his part, the onus will very much be on Mr Williamson when he addresses the NASUWT teaching union later today.
As well as a humility to accept that he has made mistakes, and setting out precisely how he intends to respond to the very serious and legitimate concerns now being expressed by teachers, Mr Williamson also needs to prove that he is still worthy of the country’s trust when Tory activists rate him as lowly as Chris Grayling, the, thankfully, former Transport Secretary.
The post of Education Secretary is one of the most important in the Cabinet. The occupant is effectively responsible for the nation’s future – and Mr Williamson has done little, thus far, to show he’s up to the job. Now is surely his last chance.
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