Gavin Williamson skipped meeting to go on holiday ahead of A-level fiasco, reports claim

Gavin Williamson skipped meeting to go on holiday ahead of A-level fiasco, reports claim

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Gavin Williamson cancelled a critical meeting with education leaders and went on holiday for a week in the run-up to the A-levels fiasco that saw thousands of pupils results downgraded.

The education secretary has faced calls to resign from frustrated pupils and some politicians after a U-turn on the use of an algorithm that disproportionately downgraded students at disadvantaged schools.

Now three sources cited by The Sunday Times have claimed that in the week before the grades were handed out Mr Williamson had been in Scarborough – where he has family – on a holiday.

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During this time he did not schedule a regular meeting with school leaders, where they had been due to discuss a return to the classroom for children in September, according to the paper.

Allowing pupils to transition back into school has been a matter at the forefront of the prime minister’s campaign to return to a new-normal in the wake of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after it was reported Mr Williamson’s department and the grading regulator Ofqual had been warned over the flaws in the government’s algorithm weeks prior.

However, in the immediate wake of his U-turn when Mr Williamson offered an explanation for his slow response despite similar failings in Scotland, he said he had only become aware of the issue over the weekend prior to his Monday afternoon U-turn.

It comes as Labour’s Keir Starmer accuses the government of incompetence over its response to the grades of a generation of pupils sitting A levels, GCSE’s and BTEC qualifications.

The opposition leader said the ability to get children back to school safely in September had been put “under serious risk” by the exams fiasco.

“I want to see children back at school next month and I expect the prime minister to deliver on that commitment”, he wrote on Twitter.

“However, this commitment is now at serious risk after a week of chaos, confusion and incompetence from the government.”

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