Education Secretary Gavin Williamson Faces Backlash For Saying Children Lacked ‘Discipline’ In Lockdown

by : Julia Banim on : 07 Apr 2021 09:47
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson Faces Backlash For Saying Children Lacked 'Discipline' In LockdownPA Images

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has faced a fierce backlash after suggesting that children lacked ‘discipline’ after long periods of lockdown.

Writing in The Telegraph, Williamson declared ‘there is nothing Dickensian about a well-ordered, disciplined classroom’, asserting that he will back any action by headteachers to tackle disruptive behaviour.


Williamson warned that homeschooling during lockdown will have ‘inevitably’ impacted children’s ‘discipline and order’, adding that ‘out of control behaviour’ could risk ruining lessons.


Williamson wrote:

This longed-for return to the classroom will give them the structure and order they desperately need, where they feel safe and ready to learn.

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.

Although Williamson conceded that tablets or laptops could be used in a ‘controlled’ way in classroom settings, he stated that mobile phones should not be allowed at school, adding:

Outside the classroom, the use of mobile phones distracts from healthy exercise and good old-fashioned play.

Worse, it acts as a breeding ground for cyberbullying, and the inappropriate use of social media sites – such as anonymous Instagram accounts, where students are ranked on their appearance – can heighten insecurities, damage mental health and encourage harassment.


Many have taken to social media to criticise Williamson’s remarks, with Chief Prosecutor Nafir Afzal writing:


It’s difficult to take Gavin Williamson seriously on kids’ welfare
They were:
Told to go to school for a day then they can’t go
Wear & not wear masks
Study at home when most didn’t have laptops or even WiFi
Told they wouldn’t be penalised in exams then an algorithm did just that.

Writer James Melville tweeted:

Gavin Williamson says children have lost ‘discipline and order’ during lockdown – as he launches a ‘behaviour crackdown’ on children. This is disgusting. What our kids have had to endure over the past year is beyond acceptable and then he has the bare-faced cheek to say this.

Labour MP Wes Streeting said:


Gavin Williamson has the AUDACITY to criticise PARENTS saying children lacked ‘order and discipline’ during lockdown.

This from an Education Secretary whose leadership has been a CHAOTIC SHAMBLES. He should be grovelling to parents for forgiveness for this abysmal record.

This comes as the Department for Education is set to publish details of its £10 million behaviour hubs programme, whereby 22 ‘lead schools’ will advise others on how behaviour management and discipline. It’s understood that this programme will be up and running in time for the summer term.

If you’ve been affected by coronavirus and want up to date advice, visit the Gov.uk help page here. If you need medical help call NHS 111 or visit online.

Most Read StoriesMost Read


Grandma With Dementia Sues Police After She Was Tackled Picking Flowers

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, lockdown, Now, Schools


The Telegraph
  1. The Telegraph

    There is nothing Dickensian about a well-ordered, disciplined classroom