The vast majority of teachers in England want education secretary Gavin Williamson to resign, a new poll of the profession has found.
Some 92 per cent of almost 6,000 respondents said they think Mr Williamson should quit, according to a Teacher Tapp survey for ITV News.
The education secretary is understood to have faced opposition from ministers over his determination for children to return to classrooms in January – which led to many primaries opening for only a single day before being forced to close by the new lockdown on Monday.
However, No 10 has continued to offer Mr Williamson backing. Boris Johnson’s press secretary Allegra Stratton said on Wednesday that the prime minister believes the education secretary has been working “to his utmost ability”.
Labour’s shadow secretary of state Kate Green said: “Where the secretary of state goes chaos and confusion follows, and it is children, families, and education staff across the country who are paying the price for his incompetence.”
Former Tory education secretary Justine Greening said the government had clearly “lost the confidence” of teachers. “This poll suggests that there isn’t trust there with teachers as things stand,” she told ITV News, adding: “Trust will come back with a plan and with a team that people have confidence can deliver that plan.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said on Thursday that his union had reports 70 per cent of families were trying to access schools, despite the stay at home message.
“The list of key workers seems to be being used much further than was expected,” he told BBC Breakfast. “Our appeal today is really to everybody … have some calm and patience with us to get this organised. Remember, government changed direction in a moment, and schools need some time to respond.”
Mr Williamson has confirmed that this year’s A-level and GCSE results will be decided by teacher-assessed grades this year after the scrapping of exams. He said the government would “trust in teachers rather than algorithms” after last year’s disastrous experience with computer modelling.
The grades would be given “fairly and consistently”, the minister promised – but admitted “the details will need to be fine-tuned” with exam regulator Ofqual.