Wednesday, February 21

Williamson is sorry but won’t resign



Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has resisted calls to resign but told Sky News he is “incredibly sorry for the distress” the A-level and GCSE results row caused to students.

He said up until results day last week he had “every confidence” the controversial algorithm used to grade pupils whose exams were cancelled due to coronavirus would not penalise disadvantaged students.

But over the weekend, when he said “it became clear there were anomalies”, the government U-turned.

I’m incredibly sorry for the distress that it’s caused to those young people, Mr Williamson told Kay Burley@Breakfast on Tuesday. But it was still the right thing to do to make the changes we made yesterday…

At the core of it was ensuring there was fairness across the system. Heartbreaking stories immediately began pouring out in the aftermath of results day from students who had lost out on university places – and in the case of one student Sky News spoke to, a bursary.

England was the final UK nation to drop a system of moderated grades and instead mark pupils according to teachers’ predictions on Monday – following Scotland, Northern Ireland and then Wales.

Angry pupils protested in Westminster and outside Mr Williamson’s South Staffordshire constituency office before the U-turn, demanding his resignation.

“The problems just keep on coming, and the thing that’s so frustrating about all this is it didn’t need to happen,” she told Sky News.

10 Downing Street has reiterated Boris Johnson, who is on holiday in Scotland, has full confidence in Mr Williamson.

But that has not quelled anger completely on the Conservative benches, with former minister George Freeman coming the closest yet to calling for Mr Williamson to go.