Wilshaw: Williamson must take rap for getting it wrong

Ex-Ofsted chief accuses education secretary of ‘getting others to resign’ but says he must ‘take final accountability'
5th January 2021, 3:19pm
Tes Reporter

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Wilshaw: Williamson must take rap for getting it wrong

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/wilshaw-williamson-must-take-rap-getting-it-wrong
Coronavirus: Former Ofsted Chief Sir Michael Wilshaw Says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson Must Take The Blame For Getting Things Wrong With Schools Policy

A former head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has said education secretary Gavin Williamson has "got a lot wrong" and should take "final accountability" for the actions of his department.

Following criticism of the government's sudden U-turn over the return of schools in England, Sir Michael said headteachers "lacked confidence" in the leadership they were receiving.

"[Mr Williamson] has got a lot wrong up to now, hasn't he?" he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.


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Asked if Mr Williamson should resign, Sir Michael said: "He gets other people to resign - permanent secretaries and the head of Ofqual.

"He has got to take final accountability for what has gone on. Ministers don't tend to resign for mistakes they have made now, in the way that they did before."

Coronavirus: Headteachers 'lack confidence' in the DfE

Sir Michael added that he did not think the Department for Education was being well-led at the present time.

"If you talk to headteachers - I talk to them regularly as an ex-head - they lack confidence in the leadership that they are receiving," he said.

Sir Michael also told the World at One that headteachers had been considering legal action against the government over the planned return of primary schools in England.

"It is surprising and saddening that there has been a sort of confrontational attitude between the Department for Education and the professional associations, and particularly the headteacher associations," he said.

"These are not radical, militant people and yet they were considering - before the recent announcement - taking legal action against the government because they weren't being listened to by the education secretary.

"That was my understanding - that the government was demanding that schools remain open and yet all the evidence the headteacher associations were getting was that it was dangerous to do so and [they] were considering legal action against the Department for Education."

Resignations in the past year under Mr Williamson's watch as education secretary include those of Ofqual chief regulator Sally Collier and Ofqual chair Roger Taylor, while the DfE's permanent secretary, Jonathan Slater, was sacked in August.

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