Gavin Williamson removed as education secretary in cabinet reshuffle

Harriet Clifford
Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Williamson was widely criticised for his comments on ‘dead-end courses’ back in May, weeks after plans were announced to cut funding for some university arts courses in half.

Adobe Stock/ Chris Dorney

Gavin Williamson has left his role as education secretary as part of Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle.

Having taken up the top spot at the Department for Education (DfE) in 2019, Williamson has been criticised for his handling of the pandemic in schools, but said on his departure that he is ‘particularly proud of the transformational reforms’ he has led in post-16 education.


Writing about these reforms on Conservative Home in May, he said that the new Skills Bill ‘will strengthen the ability of the Office for Students to crack down on low quality courses, delivering on our manifesto commitment.’

He continued: ‘The record number of people taking up science and engineering demonstrates that many are already starting to pivot away from dead-end courses that leave young people with nothing but debt – and our reforms will open the way for them to embrace the opportunities offered by degree apprenticeships, higher technical qualifications, modular learning and our flagship Institutes of Technology.’

These comments were criticised by the National Union of Students (NUS), among others, and they came shortly after proposals were launched to cut funding for some higher education arts courses, including music, in half.

Update: Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed secretary of state for education.