Rayner homes in on education secretary's 'incompetence'

Labour deputy leader attacks education secretary Gavin Williamson over the chaos of the summer's results days

Kate Parker

GCSE and A-level results 2020: Labour's Angela Rayner has accused education secretary Gavin Williamson of 'general incompetence'

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has come under fire from Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner for his “general incompetence”.

Speaking at the Labour Party’s virtual conference today, Ms Rayner said that if prime minister Boris Johnson still had faith in Mr Williamson, “he must be the only person in the country who does”.

Ms Rayner said: “And as for the testing disaster this summer in education – not students failing exams, but exams failing students. Everyone responsible has lost their jobs except the man the prime minister put in charge, the education secretary. He’s gone from Private Pike [the Dad's Army character frequently dismissed as a 'stupid boy'] to general incompetence. He’s denied knowing there was even a problem.”


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In the days after GCSE results day this August, Mr Williamson repeatedly batted away questions about whether he would resign over this year’s exam grading U-turn.

He told media outlets that Ofqual “didn’t deliver” the system that the Department for Education had been assured would be in place for this year’s results.

'Lack of confidence' in Gavin Williamson

And when speaking before the Commons Education Select Committee earlier this week, Mr Williamson said that while thousands of teachers "went above and beyond" during the coronavirus lockdown, there were "some that didn't do as much".

Ms Rayner, a former shadow education secretary, said that "if Boris Johnson still has confidence in him, then he must be the only person in the country that does. His hero Margaret Thatcher once said 'advisers advise but ministers decide'".

She added: "Now, the motto seems to be ministers decide but advisers resign. He would probably make the algorithm resign if he could. But under Boris Johnson the only thing that government advisers don't have to resign for is driving to Durham with Covid symptoms.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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