The first publication to demand Gavin Williamson’s resignation, The Yorkshire Post chose to speak out because children only get one chance to receive a sound education.
Now this stance is vindicated by a damning report by the Institute for Government – the think-tank that oversees the efficiency of Whitehall.
Citing the Government’s “refusal” to make contingency plans for schools and exams in summer 2020 as “unforgivable”, it says Mr Williamson was not involved in key decisions.
The critique blames the Government for refusing “to trust local authorities” and expertise of public health directors on how best to help schools to function.
Its conclusion is withering: “Dreadful communications. Repeated declarations that schools would open or close, or that exams would be held – despite the evident uncertainties – until reality struck. The result was U-turn after U-turn, with pupils, parents and teachers left bewildered and floundering time and again.”
Condemning this pattern of “pause, rewind, repeat”, it is staggering that the start of the new academic year, the third to be compromised by the pandemic, is still mired by so much uncertainty.
Coupled with Mr Williamson’s abiding failure to secure the level of catch-up funding demanded by Sir Kevan Collins before he resigned as Education Recovery Commissioner, the final question is a recurring one – just what will it take for Boris Johnson to appoint a competent Education Secretary?
The longer that the PM prevaricates, the more that students will lose out and the greater the public’s scepticism over levelling up when schools should be the cornerstone of this policy.
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