Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has refused to give his backing to embattled education secretary Gavin Williamson, urging him to “reflect on what happened”.
Mr Ross, who was appointed Tory leader in Scotland earlier this month, had called for the Scottish education secretary John Swinney to lose his job after the Scottish government dropped a similar model for determining exam results for A Level students.
“I think Gavin Williamson and the government and the Department for Education will be reflecting on why did they not see the problem that the SNP had to deal with as a result of their actions in Scotland,” he told BBC Radio Scotland.
Pressed on whether the cabinet minister should quit, he replied: “That is a decision for Gavin Williamson. It’s a decision for the prime minister, if he continues to have the trust of the prime minister.
“I’m not here to say in your report that I think Gavin Williamson has done a great job and he should continue. I think he has to reflect on what happened to so many pupils in England, students who were concerned for four days, because we had the exact same up here in Scotland for a week.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Williamson apologised to thousands of students across the country who had been downgraded by the algorithm, saying he was “incredibly sorry for the fact that this has caused distress”.
But he refused to be drawn on conversations with Mr Johnson, including whether he offered to quit as education secretary, and said the government’s priority was ensuring the full return of all schools next month – five months on from their closure when Britain went into lockdown.
“We are focusing on delivering the grades for those children, making sure that all schools are returned and I’m absolutely determined over the coming year that I’m going to be delivering the world’s best education system,” he told the BBC.
Nick Gibbs, the schools minister, however, said on Thursday he had considered resigning over the fiasco when pressed by LBC present Nick Ferrari.
“Of course I thought about these issues over the weekend,” he said. “But it would have been the wrong thing to do.
“My focus has to be to on making sure we put these issues right, that young people get the grades that are fair and that they can move on to the next stage of their career.”