Gavin Williamson has been removed from his role as education secretary in a reshuffle of Boris Johnson’s top team.
Mr Williamson, who has served as secretary of state for education since July 2019, announced today that he was leaving the post, as the prime minister was expected to order a wave of changes to his cabinet.
His replacement is yet to be announced.
Mr Williamson tweeted the news this afternoon.
He wrote: “It has been a privilege to serve as education secretary since 2019. Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, I’m particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led in post-16 education: in further education colleges, our skills agenda, apprenticeships and more.
“This programme will create better life opportunities for pupils and students for many years to come. I look forward to continuing to support the prime minster and the government.”
This programme will create better life opportunities for pupils and students for many years to come. I look forward to continuing to support the Prime Minster and the government.— Gavin Williamson (@GavinWilliamson) September 15, 2021
Mr Williamson, who has been elected four times as the MP for South Staffordshire, served as defence secretary and chief whip prior to his two-year spell at the head of the education department.
The majority of his time in the role was consumed by the Covid crisis, which saw two waves of mass school closures, two years of cancelled exams, major funding disputes, legal threats sent to heads, multiple U-turns, and record-high GCSE and A-level grades.
Just last week, the prime minister defended Mr Williamson in the House of Commons, arguing that he had done a “heroic job” during the pandemic.
The National Education Union tweeted that it could "not pretend to be sorry" at Mr Williamson's departure, pointing to his record on Covid safety and funding for disadvantaged schools.
.@NEUnion can't pretend to be sorry that @GavinWilliamson has gone.— National Education Union (@NEUnion) September 15, 2021
He failed to engage with us on school safety during Covid-19 and presided over funding cuts to the most disadvantaged schools.
Whoever takes his place, it's time for this Govt to really value education.
Kate Green MP, Labour’s shadow education secretary, also responded to the news.
She said: "Gavin Williamson has failed children and young people, their parents and our hard working education staff throughout one of the most testing periods in our history.
"Two years of exams chaos and staff abandoned, unsupported and demoralised. That is Gavin Williamson's legacy.
"The prime minister has allowed this to happen, keeping a failing education secretary in post for months and refusing to fight for children's futures."