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Twice Sacked Sir Gavin Williamson Deserves Knighthood, Says Education Secretary

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Gavin Williamson (House of Commons/PA) (PA Archive)

Nadhim Zahawi has defended the knighting of Sir Gavin Williamson, who was sacked twice as a cabinet minister and oversaw the 2020 exams fiasco.

The education secretary said his predecessor “deserves” the honor for his work on skills and new technical qualifications called T-levels, aimed at training workers in skills desired by employers.

The measures are contained in the Post-16 Education and Skills Bill, which has not yet been approved by Parliament.

Gavin Williamson’s work on skills, T-Levels, the right to lifelong learning will transform the lot of young people in our country.

Nadhim Zahaui

The proposed legislation was tabled during Sir Gavin’s tenure, although he began his parliamentary journey in the House of Lords and reached the House of Commons after being voted out.

The bill returns before MPs on Monday after peers defied the government by pressing their demand that the funding of Btec qualifications continue for up to four years under the reorganization of post-16-year training.

The defeat came despite a government concession that it would delay the defunding of most BTECs and other general applied qualifications for a year to 2024.

There has been a cross-party concern that the vast majority of Btec’s professional qualifications will be swept up in the review.

Zahawi told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I’m going to tell you something that’s not universally popular, I know, but being in an apartment, and you see this on my lapel here, it’s T-Levels, the White Paper of Skills and the Skills Bill that is about to receive royal approval was the work of Gavin Williamson.

“When I was in the department with Theresa May, skills were considered the Cinderella part of the department.

“Gavin Williamson’s work on skills, T-Levels, the right to lifelong learning will transform the fortunes of young people in our country who may not want to go to college. For that alone I think he deserves that knighthood.

Zahawi refused to criticize Sir Gavin for canceling exams during the pandemic, saying he had “very little choice”.

But Mr. Zahawi said: “The closing of the schools, when I think about it, was a mistake and I know I said it, and I will do everything in my power to never close the schools again, and the Prime Minister absolutely agrees with me.”


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