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Tory Education Secretary has failed a generation. Department for Education could have reacted quicker, more to COVID-19, National Audit Office finds

March 17, 2021 8:00 AM


Daisy Cooper (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)A new National Audit Office report has found that the Department for Education's response to the pandemic could have been done better and more quickly.

Liberal Democrats Education Spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP, has said it is "beyond comprehension" Gavin Williamson remains in post.

The report finds the Department for Education had no plans in place to manage mass disruption to schooling. The report states that it was not until the end of June - over three months after schools closures were announced in the UK - that it began to formulate a plan that set out objectives, milestones and risks.

Responding to the findings, Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Education said:

"This report confirms what parents and teachers have known for a year: that a whole generation of children and young people have been let down by an Education Secretary who lurched from one crisis to the next, wreaking havoc on their lives.

"As with every other major decision, this report shows that on education, the government was too late to respond and then didn't do enough.

"From the free school meal u-turns, the A-level grading fiasco, the shamefully slow rollout of laptops, the botched schools reopening plans, and the failure to take decisive action on this year's exams, Gavin Williamson is the worst Education Secretary in England in a generation. He's made such a hash of it, it is quite frankly beyond comprehension that he's still in post.

"Liberal Democrats want to see a ten year education roadmap to help children and young people recover from the educational and emotional upheaval they have experienced - both from to the pandemic itself and the government's botch job of a response."

TEXT OF NEWS RELEASE : Department for Education could have reacted quicker to COVID-19, NAO finds

National Audit Office report finds that the actions the Department for Education took to support schools and pupils in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could have been done better or more quickly, and therefore been more effective in mitigating the learning pupils lost as a result of the disruption.

The report finds that the Department for Education had no pre-existing plan for managing mass disruption to schooling on the scale caused by COVID-19, and it was not until the end of June that it began to formulate a plan that set out objectives, milestones and risks.

The NAO recommends that the Department track the longer-term impact of COVID-19 disruption on all pupils' development and attainment, focusing particularly on vulnerable and disadvantaged children, and respond to the results.

This should include assessing the catch-up programme and acting quickly to ensure it is achieving value for money, as well as reaching disadvantaged children