EVEN THOUGH Education Secretary Gavin Williamson – and his Labour counterpart Angela Rayner – did not enjoy elite schooling, they are more than adequately qualified when it comes to raising the attainment of the less academic because of their own formative years.
This much was clear when Mr Williamson’s party conference speech focused so heavily on the merit of technical education just a week after Ms Rayner was subjected to unnecessary vitriol, and sneering jibes, from some Tories about her lack of formal qualifications.
And in comparison to the Eton and Oxford University-educated Prime Minister, Mr Williamson’s own roots are modest – he went to Raincliffe School, a state comprehensive school in Scarborough, and then the resort’s Sixth-Form College, before studying for a degree at the University of Bradford.
As a MP, he became indispensable to both David Cameron and Theresa May before a controversial stint as Defence Secretary ended with his sacking earlier this year. However, after being appointed to his current role by Boris Johnson, Mr Williamson has started to make his mark because he recognises that there is far more to education policy than A-Level and GCSE grades – the standard benchmarks.
Exactly 20 years after Tony Blair called for half of all young people to go to university, the current Education Secretary is committed to putting in place policies to support the 50 per cent of teenagers which Labour “forgot about”. Mr Williamson’s task now is to make sure that the Northern Powerhouse is at the heart of his plans to create the new specialist institutes that he advocates.