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Tue, 20 October 2020

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Pressure on Gavin Williamson as poll shows almost half of Brits think he should resign over exam crisis

Pressure on Gavin Williamson as poll shows almost half of Brits think he should resign over exam crisis

Pressure is mounting on Gavin Williamson to resign after this summer's results fiasco (PA)

2 min read

A snap poll after the Government U-turned on using an algorithm to calculate A Level and GCSE results has revealed the overwhelming majority think they have handled this summer’s exam crisis badly.

And 40% of the public think Education Secretary Gavin Williamson should resign, with just one in five saying he should remain in his post.

The results of the survey were published shortly after the exam regulator Ofqual announced on Monday the moderated grades would be disregarded in favour of teachers’ assessments in all parts of the UK.

Mr Williamson apologised to students, teachers and parents but the odds on him becoming the next minister to leave the Cabinet shortened to just 2/1.

Jessica O'Reilly of bookmakers Ladbrokes said: "Given the backlash to exam grades it's perhaps not too much of a surprise that Williamson is the clear favourite now in a hotly contested market."

Pollsters YouGov asked Brits how they felt the Government has handled the exam situation, with 75% saying they have done badly, and just 6% said they had dealt with it well.

That includes 69% of Tory voters, after a number of senior party MPs went public with their criticism of the way marks were downgraded.

And after the U-turn, Conservative former minister George Freeman MP came close to suggesting Mr Williamson will pay for the fiasco with his job.

He told Times Radio: ”Ultimately, the Prime Minister is in charge. And I think he will want to take firm control of this and get a grip and show that his government is taking the life chances of a generation of children seriously.

“I'm told the Prime Minister's you know, planning to reshuffle in the autumn, and I dare say he wants to take everything into account.”

The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the decision to ditch the algorithm was a victory for pupils  but “the Tories’ handling of this situation has been a complete fiasco”.

He added: “Incompetence has become this Government’s watchword, whether that is on schools, testing or care homes. 

“Boris Johnson’s failure to lead is holding Britain back.”

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran said Boris Johnson “must show leadership and personally apologise for his Government's shambles”, while the SNP has also slammed the Tories for “rank hypocrisy” over this year’s exam results.

And the SNP's education spokesperson Carol Monaghan MP said Gavin Williamson should “reflect on his ill-advised comments and to work with devolved governments rather than briefing against them”.

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