Week Ahead: Education Secretary Gavin Williamson faces MPs, RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show and wedding cap lifted

A potential grilling for Gavin Williamson, a Harrogate flower show in bloom and a lift on the numbers at weddings. John Blow looks at the week ahead.
Gavin Williamson. Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images.Gavin Williamson. Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images.
Gavin Williamson. Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images.

Williamson grilling

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson could be in for a grilling on Tuesday when he is due to face MPs

Mr Williamson will give evidence to the education select committee, when MPs are likely to take the opportunity to ask about the Government’s catch-up programme.

A family visiting RHS Garden Harlow Carr. Picture: James Hardisty.A family visiting RHS Garden Harlow Carr. Picture: James Hardisty.
A family visiting RHS Garden Harlow Carr. Picture: James Hardisty.
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However it comes after Mr Williamson had been due to speak to The Yorkshire Post on his visit to Bradford a week ago, but the interview was cancelled, amid mounting criticism over the funding for schools and a lack of opportunity for young people in the region.

He was in the region to see first-hand the Opportunity Areas programme - that Universities Minister Michelle Donelan oversees - has brought to students in Bradford.

This newspaper has previously highlighted calls from education leaders for the Government to expand the Opportunity Areas programme across the whole of the North.

The select committee comes after the Mr Williamson said that it intends to hold exams and formal assessments including GCSE and A-levels in the next academic year despite disruption

to learning amid the pandemic.

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Speaking at the Festival of Education UK last week, he said: “I can confirm that it’s our intention that exams and other formal assessments go ahead next year, the GCSEs, A-levels, and vocational and technical qualifications.

“We’re working with Ofqual and others to consider what we need to do to make sure grades are fair, even if there is further disruption ahead.”

Mr Williamson added: “Just as for older pupils, we continue to plan for a full programme of primary assessments in the 2021/22 academic year, including the introduction of statutory reception baseline assessments and the multiplication tables checks, and will confirm full details in due course.

“Like last year, we’ll be running phonics screening checks in the autumn, so if there’s any pupils who need support with phonics it’s spotted early.”

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Teachers are able to draw on a range of evidence when determining pupils’ GCSE and A-level grades this summer, including mock exams, coursework, and in-class assessments using questions by exam boards. Mr Williamson said he rejects speculation that grades will not be an accurate reflection of students’ abilities.

Horticulture highlight

Yorkshire will play host to the vibrant colours of horticultural creations between Friday and Sunday this coming week.

RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show is a flower extravaganza in the most northerly RHS Garden, at Harrogate. It will include specialist trade stands, expert advice and floral displays.

Those lucky enough to have tickets for the fully-booked event can go home with ideas for their garden and purchase plants alongside an all-day programme of talks and demonstrations, food and drink and live music, all within the stunning surroundings of the 58-acre garden.

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Harlow Carr says that visitors can “speak to the growers so you can really understand what will work in your garden and learn how to best care for these plants and enjoy them for years to come. These knowledgeable nurseries have unrivalled expertise, and purchasing direct from specialist growers affords the best quality and selection of plants.”

More the merrier

A 30-person limit on weddings in England is lifted tomorrow but remaining coronavirus restrictions remain.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on June 14 that weddings would be able to go ahead with more than 30 guests from June 21 provided social distancing was in place.