Education Select Committee session with @GavinWilliamson 

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“Today’s select committee session covered a lot of ground and the Secretary of State’s comments have raised a number of issues of interest to school leaders.

“Whilst we agree that schools should be politically neutral spaces, there is a need to allow debate to flourish, challenging topics to be discussed and for pupils to begin to form their own views free from the influence of government or other powerful voices and organisations.

“In the absence of exams this year, schools have worked incredibly hard to submit reliable and credible grades for their GCSE and A Level students. Yesterday we welcomed the Welsh Government’s announcement that a rebate of 50 per cent would be available from the exam boards in Wales, recognising the enormous input schools and colleges have had in awarding these grades. NAHT strongly urges the Westminster government to take note and follow suit.

“The news that exams for 2022 may be adjusted to take into account this year’s disruption will surprise no-one in the sector. The important thing now is that schools and colleges are given clear information from government about how many scenarios they should be planning for. The government cannot be allowed to sleep-walk into a third year of uncertainty and confusion.

“The government needs to step up its recovery plans for education. They cannot have failed to notice the very poor reception their plans received when they were revealed last month. The resignation of the government’s recovery commissioner should be of huge concern to ministers who must know that their plans lack the scope and ambition to truly tackle the scale of the recovery task that schools will be engaged in.

“Funding is a key part of this. As our recent poll of members showed, rather than dictating how education recovery happens, the government needs to give schools the flexible funding and resources to get on with the job in the way they know works best.

“NAHT’s Education Recovery Blueprint includes seven fundamental areas of work that ought to lead to a stronger and fairer education system for all. The government’s recovery plan just isn’t ambitious enough, frankly.”

Reacting to Gavin Williamson's comments about exams in 2022, Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter, said:

“It’s reassuring to see the Government giving thought to how exams can be fair for those due to sit them next year. Communicating clearly and early to pupils, teachers and parents should be a priority. Our research has shown that teenagers in Year 10 and Year 12 have suffered unprecedented disruption to their education, with those from poorer backgrounds falling further behind.

"Ministers must learn lessons from the previous two academic years to minimise anxiety and uncertainty and ensure exams are fair for all children." 

Education Committee question Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson MP – Wednesday 23rd June at 10am 

Parliament is still closed to visitors and the session will be available to watch at parliamentlive.tv 

The Education Committee is to question Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson MP

As part of a regular accountability session with the Committee, Mr Williamson will face questions right across his brief. MPs are likely to take the opportunity to ask about the Government’s Covid catch-up programme, plans for vocational education and the issue of safeguarding in schools. 

Members may also ask about other subjects related to the Committee’s programme of inquiries. 

The Secretary of State last appeared before the Committee in January

Witness schedules 

Wednesday 23rd June at 10am 

·       Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education 

·       Iain King, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Operational Finance, Operations Group, Department for Education 

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