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Williamson brands live education ‘best way to teach’ despite government guidance calling claim ‘unhelpful myth’

Vincent Wood
·2-min read
<p>The under-fire minister has the lowest approval rating of the cabinet</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

The under-fire minister has the lowest approval rating of the cabinet

(AFP via Getty Images)

Gavin Williamson has told MPs “live” education is the “best way” to deliver teaching remotely to students – despite guidance issued to educators branding the assertion an “unhelpful myth”.

The embattled minister has increasingly come under fire over the course of the pandemic following his response to the A-level grading scandal, the provision of laptops to less well off pupils and legal challenges his department issued to schools over closures that were soon after made mandatory by lockdown rules.

Now Mr Williamson has contradicted guidance issued to teachers to help them through the pandemic – claiming lessons in which they lead learning via video link is better than education provided through pre-recorded mediums or digitally available classwork.

“What we do want to see and we do want to encourage is as much live teaching as possible,” Mr Williamson told the Commons, adding it was “shown to be the best way in terms of delivering teaching”.

Asked if he had plans to increase the amount of live teaching, he added: “We would encourage schools to put on as much live provision as possible. This is very beneficial.”

In guidance issued to schools by Ofsted, teachers were told the idea that “the best way to deliver remote education is always through live lessons” was an “unhelpful myth” that was “not based on evidence”.

“Some think that a live lesson is the ‘gold standard’ of remote education. This isn’t necessarily the case.” It adds.

“Because evidence suggests that concentration online is shorter than the length of a typical lesson, filming a classroom lesson may be ineffective.

“Different approaches to remote education suit different types of content and pupils.”

It comes after teachers, unions, politicians and even his own party membership have aired their disapproval of the minister, with a December poll of members by Conservative Home placing him as the least popular member of the cabinet with approval of minus 22.5 per cent.

Shadow education secretary Kate Green told the Commons: “He was late in planning the voucher scheme, he was late getting laptops to students, late consulting on replacing exams and late announcing that students would not return to school in January.

“After delay after delay, has he finally realised what parents, pupils and staff have known for months, he just isn’t up to the job?”

Responding, Mr Williamson said: “Time and time and time again we have recognised where there are real challenges in terms of dealing with the global pandemic, that is why we have taken the action that we have.”

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