Fortunate to be still in post after this summer’s exams fiasco and other failings – other Cabinet ministers have been sacked for less in the past – Mr Williamson needs to balance the risk to public health against a need to maintain lessons if pupils are to be in any position to sit key exams next summer.
And while much depends on the upcoming review of Tier arrangements, and the extent to which the brief relaxation of rules over Christmas has led to new cases, the Education Secretary needs to place far more trust in the judgement of LEAs, school providers and headteachers. They all know their local circumstances far better than he ever will.
In the meantime, Mr Williamson should be ensuring that teachers have the support they require to deliver online lessons. It’s another indictment of his leadership that the DfE has failed to make sufficient laptops available to students who need them and this region is grateful for the innovative schemes set by entrepreneur David Richards in Sheffield, and now the Leeds Tech Angels, to recycle old devices.
There’s also no sign of the plan to help disadvantaged children catch up on their studies before their prospects are further compromised. Perhaps Mr Williamson would care to enlighten schools on this, too, before the supposed start of the new term.
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