Having been embroiled in numerous controversial situations as a Cabinet member, British Education Minister Gavin Williamson was said to be out of line in chastising the Covid-era behaviour of school kids.
Former Defence Minister and current Education Minister, Williamson has suggested schoolchildren have been lacking discipline and structure during the national lockdown in the UK and called for a mobile phone ban in classrooms.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Gavin Williamson said “although remote learning was a tremendous success in terms of enabling children to carry on with their lessons from home, the lack of regular structure and discipline will inevitably have had an effect on their behaviour.”
He also added that “while tablets or laptops can be used in a ‘controlled’ way in classrooms, mobile phones should not be allowed” as they distract pupils from “healthy exercise and good old-fashioned play.”
Labour MPs denounced Williamson for his remarks, arguing he was a poor leader and a bad example of a disciplined person.
In which I explain to Gavin Williamson that if it weren’t for mobile phones hundreds of thousands of the children he is responsible for educating wouldn’t have had even a minutes education. Gavin Williamson has had no discipline. https://t.co/n5SIqR04Qf
— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) April 7, 2021
According to his critics, Williamson is not in the position to lecture anyone about discipline. Having been fired from the post of Defence Minister in 2019, after allegedly leaking confidential information, Williamson has also managed to involve himself in diplomatic goofs during his services.
Strange for the disgraced Education Secretary to announce a crackdown on bad behaviour.
After his year of calamities, if Gavin Williamson was a school kid he would be facing permanent expulsion. https://t.co/HYVCwBwmkN
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 7, 2021
The Department for Education (DfE) announced on 7 April that training through £10 million Behaviour Hubs programme – “designed to support schools struggling with poor discipline” – will commence from the start of the summer term.
In the Department’s statement, Williamson said that he will “always support schools taking a firm approach, for example taking action to tackle the scourge of ever-present mobile phones.” He praised the “positive impact it will have on students’ wellbeing and attainment.”
Criticism of the Education Minister comes amid a recent government announcement related to Covid-19 restrictions related to school operation during the lockdown.
On 6 April, the government confirmed that that face coverings should continue to be worn in secondary school and college classrooms until the next stage of easing the restrictions, to take place no earlier than 17 May.