Gavin Williamson is the sick man of the Cabinet. His decisions have resulted in the greatest schooling catastrophe since the Second World War. Resign now, argues Jack Mountney.

Cabinet ministers have come under scrutinous criticism with their handling of the pandemic but none as much as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. But how much of this criticism is justified? And what is the reality behind a politician who gets accused of being a merciless Machiavellian who is both inept and careless?

A man once floated as a potential leadership contender is now facing universal confusion about how he has consistently escaped the chop. Before becoming Education Secretary Williamson, or 'Gav-lar' as he insisted on being called in Downing Street during his time as Chief Whip, was sacked from his role in Defence, after an investigation into leaks from the National Security Council – claims that Williamson "strenuously" denied. During his tenure he had faced accusations of being out of his depth – epitomised by his comments that Russia should "go away" and "shut up" following the Salisbury Novichok poisonings.

I understand there must be some sympathy towards Williamson for fronting the crushing disruption of the pandemic and having to defend decisions that were not always of his making. But how far can the sympathy stretch? With confidence needing to be re-established no one knows whether this weak Secretary of State has got the autonomy to make decisions or whether he is simply a puppet being manipulated by Number 10.

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Williamson's position is heavily undermined by the fact that the majority of UK teachers regard him as maladjusted. A poll of 6,000 teachers, saw 92% agreeing he should resign. This comes as no shock after endless U-turns, whether its free school meals (twice having been saved by Marcus Rashford), exams or closing schools. Nine months of strategising the logistics of holding exams has culminated in nothing. To Gavin Williamson this seems like one big 'Hokey Cokey': Putting plans into action and then taking them out, children coming back into schools then out, in, out, but the only thing that's going to be shaken about are the futures of young people who he has failed.

Granted, in a crisis like this, you are not going to get everything correct. But it's vital to get the key decisions as right as possible. This lack of any firm decision was highlighted at the beginning of January with parents being pleaded with to send their children back to school by the Government, only to take them out again a mere two days later, trashing teaching plans, and making the shoes, satchels, and stationary carefully bought by parents redundant. Following legal battle with teaching unions asking for an explanation behind this monumental disruption, the only response provided was: "decisions are based on new infections and NHS pressure."

After the release of A-level results in August it became increasingly apparent that there were too many young people that simply had not got the grade they truly deserved. This was immediately addressed by Williamson who stated that "Ofqual didn't deliver the system that we had been reassured and believed that would be in place." It was clearly a frantic attempt to sacrifice Ofqual's reputation, despite it working to ministers' strict instructions during the pandemic. And of course, these instructions led to the implementation of an algorithm which downgraded around 40% of entries and penalised poorer students' grades.

With the UK recording over 38,000 COVID-19 cases in early January, it is impossible to see the logic in the decision to open them in the first place. All of these asymptomatic children who have just spent Christmas with their families, who were allowed to mix with other households under the Government guidelines will be returning to schools – this was central to the reason cases rose again in September. Going into classes and mixing with each other, sharing door handles, stationary, and whiteboards, and then returning home at the end of the day, marks a clear correlation between this and the reasons why daily cases are consistently rising. The incompetence of our Education Secretary and his feeble decision making is staggering, inadvertently causing a rise in cases and leaving many parents asking the same question: What is going to happen next?

Gavin Williamson should resign or be removed from office as soon as there is a reshuffle. He has lost so much political capital he can no longer stand up to other Whitehall departments, even over key issues such as opening schools. The final decision will of course be with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has previously intervened to rescue his career. Ironically, Williamson's insistence of the previous Prime Minister that he "made her and could break her" is seeming to come back to bite. It is that relationship which will decide his future in Parliament.

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