Yesterday at lunchtime this tweet emerged from the MP for Wealden, East Sussex referring to words that a Sky journalist had expressed that came from a discussion that was taking place in Parliament at the same time. Now of course anyone who expresses a view on Schools at the moment needs to be very careful. We have had a range of proposals set out by Williamson and his Ministerial colleagues and a great deal of changes have taken place as everyone is learning, as we go on how to deal with COVID-19. It is certainly clear that the lack of educational provision is damaging the children in our nation. However by the same token bringing children into Schools that are not safe or inappropriately organised can place the children and their families at great risk and also the teachers and the other staff teams. If the protection for teachers and indeed for the children means that Schools cannot open fully in September, then people like Nusrat Ghani need to avoid trying to claim such approaches are party political unless they are willing for the decisions taken by Williamson and her other colleagues to also be accused of being political and trying to protect the Government. So here are the various statements that Gavin Williamson made yesterday during the Education Settings: Autumn Opening debate.
In terms of consultation, we have and will continue to consult widely within the sector. We have established a school stakeholder group with the Trades Union Congress and other unions, but, more importantly, we have had a much wider dialogue with people, not just trade unions. We have consulted many other stakeholders and, most importantly, those who are delivering education on the ground. That is something we have continually been doing ever since the moment we had to close schools, and we will continue to do so as we move forward.
I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have had extensive discussions with headteachers about those plans, and consulted widely. I also assure him that I have met unions every week all the way through this crisis, and made sure that we have had a regular dialogue to share our plans. This should not be about trade unions dictating what we are doing that is best for our children. We want to work with trade unions and the whole sector, including staff, to deliver the best education for all children. We will continue to have that dialogue. We have done that in the past, and we will in the future.
As I am sure that my hon. Friend, who has a deep knowledge of the education sector, knows, this is the time for every person to come together and work together to ensure that every child is back. We have seen headteachers under incredibly great pressure from certain levels of activism. As we look forward to full opening in September, I hope that everyone comes together to work out how we can get every child—in every class and every year group—back in school. I have no doubt that every union will also be doing that and working with us.
It would appear that even Gavin Williamson is not quite as critical as Kate Fergusons tweet suggested. Given that Nusrat Ghani was able to listen or watch the whole debate she should also know that matters are far less polarised and so she needs to correct her own mistakes.