Williamson doing ‘brilliant job’, says health secretary

PM was right to say schools are both ‘safe’ and ‘contribute to the spread’ of the virus, says Hancock
10th January 2021, 10:36am
Amy Gibbons

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Williamson doing ‘brilliant job’, says health secretary

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/williamson-doing-brilliant-job-says-health-secretary
Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson is doing a "brilliant job in very difficult circumstances", the health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock also stood by the prime minister's assertion that schools are both "safe" and "contribute to the spread" of the virus in the community.

Speaking to Sky News this morning, Mr Hancock defended the education secretary, saying he is doing a "brilliant job".


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"I think Gavin's been doing a brilliant job in very difficult circumstances," he said.

"And, actually, it's incumbent on all of us - frankly, the whole country - to pull together as much as possible."

The health secretary also argued that "schools can still cause spread while being safe for the children who are in". 

"Schools are safe for children," he said. 

"The risk to children is extremely low and there's no evidence of more teachers catching Covid than any other profession. So that means schools are safe.

"But the challenge is that because children often catch it asymptomatically - I mean adults do, too, right - a third of adults who get Covid don't have any symptoms at all but do pass it on.

"With children, that proportion is much, much higher and so schools can still cause spread while being safe for the children who are in.

"So that's the precise explanation for why the prime minister was right to say schools are both safe but they do contribute to the spread, which is why, unfortunately, we have had to close them."

And asked whether parents should keep their children at home if only one person in the couple is a key worker, Mr Hancock said: "If at all possible, yes."

Should key workers keep their children at home if they can?

"Yes" says @MattHancock and he adds "if you're a key worker and your partner doesn't work, then you shouldn't be sending your children to school" - though "it's a very difficult balance to strike".#Ridge pic.twitter.com/SFgFaUgDET

- Sophy Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) January 10, 2021

"For instance, if you're a key worker and your partner doesn't work, then you shouldn't be sending your children to school. That's clear in the guidance," he said. 

"But, of course, the reason that we keep schools open for key workers' children is that this is important.

"It is important - for instance - that key workers in the NHS, but not just the NHS, can get to work and so it's a very difficult balance to strike.

"I understand that more people are sending their children to school than they did last time. But we really do need everybody who works in the NHS. where at all possible, to be able to make it to work."

The current government guidance states: "Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can."

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