Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson in his office at the Department of Education in Westminster, London, following the announcement that A-level and GCSE results in England will now be based on teachers' assessments of their students, unless the grades produced by the controversial algorithm are higher.
06 April 2011 12:00 AM

Williamson, Gavin

06 April 2011

Overview

Gavin Williamson is the state-school taught, tarantula loving, ‘baby faced assassin’ who ran the Department of Education between 2019 and 2021. He was sacked by Boris Johnson in September 2021.

Before becoming Secretary of State for Education in 2019, Gavin Williamson was already a prominent politician and a well-known figure inside the parliamentary Conservative party.

A former Government Chief Whip, Williamson managed Theresa May’s successful campaign to become Conservative leader in 2016, and then undertook the same role for Boris Johnson in 2019.

Gavin Willamson

Gavin Williamson has had a bumpy ride as Education Secretary.

Secretary of State for Education

Mr Williamson initially appeared to suit his role as Education Secretary; he went to a comprehensive school, is married to a former teacher and has previously been a school governor and County Councillor. Appointed to this post by Boris Johnson in 2019, Williamson made a return to the Cabinet having previously served as Secretary of State for Defence.

As Education Secretary during the 2020-2021 Coronavirus epidemic, Williamson faced the challenge of keeping schools open and managing the exam process for students who had not been in school.

Having announced in March 2020 that schools would be closed across England until further notice, he also announced exams for that academic year would not go ahead. Instead, Williamson detailed how an Ofqual algorithm would modulate teacher assessed grades. Williamson repeatedly defended the algorithm arguing it was the only way to stop grade inflation.

However, after GCSE and A-Level results were announced, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson came under significant pressure to announce that unmodified teacher assessed grades would be accepted. After some delay, Williamson committed to this U-turn announcing that he was ‘incredibly sorry’ for the distress caused to pupils.

Relationship with Boris Johnson

In 2016, Williamson, a ‘Remainer’ on the issue of Brexit, was quick to back Theresa May for the Conservative leadership, passing over Boris Johnson. In fact, according to journalist George Eaton, Williamson ‘privately vowed to do all he could to stop Boris Johnson entering No 10’.

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