PM: Aah, Secretary of State, come on in, come on in, sit down.
SoS: Thanks, Prime Minister, good to be here.
PM: Let’s get on with it shall we? How do you think this last year has gone?
SoS: Well, I think we made a strong start last September. The children went to school, their teachers taught them, and everything went very smoothly.
PM: Brilliant, just super, excellent work, Secretary of State. How about after that?
SoS: As you know, these have been unprecedented times. I think all things considered we’ve done a good job keeping things going, you know.
PM: It was shame we had to close schools wasn’t it.
SoS: Yes, but you know we just had to do it. I think the three day’s notice we gave everyone that they needed to get remote learning up and running was ample and really gave the profession a good lead in to getting their head around what they would need to do.
PM: Yes, that was good thinking, plenty of time three days.
SoS: After that we went into guidance mode. I was particularly proud of how we reacted to the ever-changing situation by actively ensuring that we kept our guidance up to date and revising it often to reflect the science of what was happening. We also made sure we hit the publish button as soon as we’d finished it so headteachers could have it as soon as possible, even if that meant sending it out at midnight, or on weekends and bank holidays. I think that was appreciated.
PM: I’m sure it was, having as much time as possible to plan your way forward is vital. How did you know that the changes were being acted on – did you mark them in some way?
SoS: No, this was the brilliant bit, we didn’t! We made sure they would have to read the whole thing again and find the differences themselves. That means they HAD to read it and would definitely have found the differences, then they could effectively re-write their plans.
PM: I don’t know how you do it Secretary of State, leadership at its finest.
SoS: Thank you, Prime Minister.
PM: And how do you think the partial reopening went?
SoS: Well, we made sure we only communicated our hope for all children to return so we couldn’t be accused of not meeting a target.
PM: Achieved, well done.
SoS: I will admit, I did make one error, I said on radio that it had always been the plan to return on the 1stJune, instead of sticking to the line that it would be decided by science, sorry.
PM: Not too worry, I’m sure no-one noticed.
SoS: Anyway, when it came to July and we were being pushed to let more children back, we knew the science didn’t really support it, so we decide that we’d let headteachers decide, but then give them some really stringent criteria that would make it almost impossible to achieve.
PM: Well done, not our fault if it doesn’t happen then?
PM: And after that?
SoS: Well then we turned our focus to September. Instead of wasting time writing separate guidance for different settings, we wrote one for all and left it up to school leaders to make it fit.
PM: Well done on saving department time and money. Efficiency savings are what it’s all about.
SoS: We’ve not really changed it much after that – apart from the masks bit, but again – we’ve left it up to leaders. That way we can take the credit if it works, but not the blame if it goes wrong.
PM: Now, can we turn our attention to exams?
SoS: Of course, Prime Minister. I am happy to report this has been a record year for results. The impact of our education strategy over the last several years has been incredible.
PM: Excellent. What about the issue of the CAGs and grading?
SoS: We can only go on what the experts tell us Prime Minister. We have to trust them. As you know, we can’t be expected to have full understanding – just oversight. I trusted the algorithm and those that had put it together – it can’t be my fault if that trust was misplaced.
PM: Indeed, your integrity should be applauded. We shall move on those responsible to another department. Overall, I think you’ve met all your Key performance Indicators, Secretary of State. Standards? Up. Response to crisis? Swift and decisive, giving plenty of time to stakeholders. Communication? First class, lots of updated information so headteachers have everything at their fingertips. Keep up the good work Secretary of State. I’ll see you next year.