Gavin Williamson sacked as Education Secretary in Government reshuffle

Gavin Williamson has been removed as Secretary of State for Education as part of a cabinet shake-up, being replaced by former Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi.

15/09/21

Gavin Williamson sacked as Education Secretary in Government reshuffle

Gavin Williamson has been removed from his role as Secretary of State for Education.

Williamson will be replaced by former Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi, promoted from his post as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment

“It has been a privilege to serve as Education Secretary since 2019,” Williamson tweeted.

The Secretary of State is responsible for the work of the Department for Education, including children’s social care and early years, as well as oversight of the departmental coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

“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.”

Williamson was appointed Secretary of State for Education on 24 July 2019, taking over from Damian Hinds. His tenure includes the launch of the Review of Children’s Social Care, and the announcement and recent implementation of the ban on unregulated accommodation for children in care up to the age of 16.

In November last year, the Court of Appeal unanimously voted that Williamson acted unlawfully in failing to consult children’s rights organisations before making changes to legal protections for children in care in England.

More recently, Williamson came under fire for suggesting in an interview that he had spoken with food poverty campaigner and footballer Marcus Rashford – before later issuing a correction that he had actually spoken with rugby player Maro Itoje.

“We met over Zoom and he seemed incredibly engaged, compassionate and charming but then he had to shoot off,” Williamson said, appearing to confuse the two sportsmen – both of whom are black.

In a statement, the then Education Secretary said he had made a “genuine mistake” and that he had “conflated the issues” of laptops during the pandemic – which Itoje had campaigned for – and the campaign for free school meals ed by Rashford.

In a statement, Labour MP and Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said Williamson "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," Green said.

Commenting on the departure, Sam Freedman, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government, said: “Gavin Williamson was, by some distance, the worst Education Secretary in history. I only pray that continues to be the case for the foreseeable future.”

Williamson’s replacement Zahawi previously held the role of Children’s Minister within the Department for Education, where he oversaw the introduction of the National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) for social workers.

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