HENRY DEEDES: Gavin WIlliamson’s credibility problem


It’s hard to look at Gavin Williamson without seeing him wearing dunce’s hat: HENRY DEEDES watches the Education Secretary’s statement in Parliament

Just as confidence in the Government is returning to vaguely respectable levels, enter Gavin Williamson. Oh, brother.

I know, I know, kicking the education secretary is hardly sport these days. Plus his beloved tarantula is said to have recently croaked, which must be beastly for la famille Williamson. Poor Cronus. RIP.

Everything about Gormless Gav screams ‘bungler’. The vacant glare, the precarious gait. It’s impossible to look at the man without seeing a dunce’s hat perched lop-sided on his head and his tongue dangling from his mouth.

Just as confidence in the Government is returning to vaguely respectable levels, enter Gavin Williamson. Oh, brother

His statement yesterday to the House on next month’s schools return was an agonising experience. Call me an old snoot, but there are basic qualities one expects from the man in charge of our educational standards. Eloquence for one; a bit of erudition.

   

More from Henry Deedes for the Daily Mail…

Yet at the despatch box, Mr Williamson could barely manage a sentence without stumbling over a word or correcting himself. His diction suggests someone who hasn’t bothered to check his own work before handing it in. The voice? More irritating than someone dragging their fingernails down a blackboard. With students spending even less time in the classroom this year than England’s batsmen seem to manage at the crease, we were told this summer’s exam grades will be awarded by their teachers. Remember last year’s balls-up when certificates were doled out via some defective computer algorithm? Thankfully that disastrous little experiment has been dragged to the virtual trash can.

Education committee chairman Rob Halfon (Con, Harlow) felt the plans were the ‘least worst option’. Least idiotic, certainly. Half worried, though, that allowing teachers to effectively mark their own homework would lead to a ‘Wild West’ system of grade inflation. Williamson assured the House that the exams regulator Ofqual would be carrying out internal checks. Halfon’s features did not flush with confidence.

Some think Halfon should be doing Gav’s job. He certainly makes a better fist of holding him to account than Labour’s softly spoken education spokeswoman Kate Green. Reminds me of a concerned vicar’s wife, does Green. She’s the one, you will recall, who apologised after effectively saying the pandemic was a good crisis to exploit.

Green complained the delay in the exam grades announcement had left students suffering ‘weeks of anxiety.’ Really? Suspect many were secretly delighted at not having to spend all of Easter up to their snouts in revision.

You may not be entirely flabbergasted to learn that some of Green’s colleagues on the Labour benches didn’t think schools should be returning on March 8. Punchy Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) said a number of teachers had been in touch with her to claim they still don’t feel safe going back to work. Bet they had. Rebecca Long Bailey (Salford) was of the same mind. No surprises there either. As Williamson pointed out, if Corbynista Becky had her way, schools would remain shut indefinitely.

Caroline Nokes (Con, Romsey) wanted to know what the form would be with exams next year. Steady on!

His statement yesterday to the House on next month’s schools return was an agonising experience. Call me an old snoot, but there are basic qualities one expects from the man in charge of our educational standards. Eloquence for one; a bit of erudition

His statement yesterday to the House on next month’s schools return was an agonising experience. Call me an old snoot, but there are basic qualities one expects from the man in charge of our educational standards. Eloquence for one; a bit of erudition

Let’s see if we can get through this August without another gargantuan pile-up like last year, shall we? Besides, the likelihood of Gav being around to implement anything by then is presumably minimal.

Later, we caught sight of the Prime Minister visiting a classroom in Lancashire. We found him perched on a small stool possibly not designed with a man’s of Boris’s considerable build in mind. I could practically hear its legs emitting squeaks of mercy.

The PM’s voice was hard to hear through his mask, but he seemed to be telling pupils how he’d gone into politics after a ‘mid-life crisis’, and decided he wanted to give something back.

The audience did not seem entirely captivated by their distinguished guest. Some looked as though they might have preferred to be doing double maths instead. All I can say is the little wretches should try sitting through an hour of Gavin Williamson.

Let’s see if we can get through this August without another gargantuan pile-up like last year, shall we? Besides, the likelihood of Gav being around to implement anything by then is presumably minimal

Let’s see if we can get through this August without another gargantuan pile-up like last year, shall we? Besides, the likelihood of Gav being around to implement anything by then is presumably minimal

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