If Gavin Williamson, or anyone from the Conservative party, had spent any time on Social Media this week he would have realised that he has totally lost the confidence of the education community.
Teachers and head teachers have been unanimous in their concerns at how he and his department have handled the impact of Covid on our schools. From bungled last minute decisions, an utter lack of clarity on the simplest of dictates, the ever changing bloated smudge that is the guidance documentation and standing firm on keeping schools open in the face of facts very clearly showing that schools were a rising infection concern before Christmas.
The fact is the crisis has been so badly handled that you would be hard pressed to find anyone, outside of a Conservative Harris federation Academy gathering, even remotely supportive of the Education Secretary right now.
This, you would think, would be enough to make any Prime Minister rethink their approach to education. Education secretaries don’t have to be popular (though it helps) but they have to be effective. They have to be able to rise above the mummers of discontent and plough forward with certainty. As much as I hate to say it- they need to be a Micheal Gove, as unpopular as he was you understood what he was doing and his reasons for doing it. You could focus on what you didn’t like because he was always clear. With Gavin I have no idea what is happening and that is dangerous. Now, we are in a crisis so there needs to be some understanding… but we have been in a crisis since March of last year. Gavin, and his department, have blundered from one decision to the next rarely explaining why and often just leaving it up to individual schools to make sense of the utter mess, whilst clumsily wheedling the rod of power behind their backs.
Leadership is a tough old throne but you have to sit on it and take stock of the world around you and act accordingly. Gavin et al seem to be completely ignorant to what is happening right now and impotent in their actions. The list of crimes against schools is getting longer:
I seethe as I watch the news listening to him just say words, trying to convince the general public that they ‘do’ have the ear of the profession, holding on- ignoring the important questions hoping time will run out. I hate that he just continues to lie and say that primary schools are not the problem, that it’s ok to send out mixed messages, that a leak to the press is an appropriate way for headteachers to find out what the government intend. By not calling any of this out he condones it. I was cutting Gavin slack at the beginning because this was tough… but when you look back nothing could have prepared you for just how badly education has been led through this. How isolated we have been. This gets me to the thing that makes my blood boil most when I hear it spill from Gavin, or Nick Gibb…
“I have been speaking to head teachers”
Who are these head teachers? The fact of the matter is it’s a stupid statement but one they seem to believe is true if they say it enough. The governmental system can not do ‘voice’ and ‘action’ effectively so at least be honest Gavin. At a time when devolved powers need to sit with schools and Local Authorities saying blanket statements like ‘I have spoken to head teachers’ is total baloney… it is meaningless drivel to those of us who ARE in the profession and know that having a chat with 5,10 even 20 head teachers is NOT talking to head teachers. It is having a word with your trusted group. That is very different to making out you are a man of the profession. You are not, in fact right now, you are embarrassing yourself again and you are hurting us.