Boris Johnson ‘had no plan’ for school chaos: Prime Minister told officials ‘not to make contingencies’ for education system during Covid pandemic, report claims

  • Institute for Government published claims from an anonymous No 10 insider  
  • Mr Johnson reportedly gave a ‘clear steer’ not to make plans to manage closures 
  • Think tank’s report described period following March 2020 closures as ‘chaos’

Boris Johnson told officials ‘not to make contingency plans’ for school chaos during the pandemic, a report claims.

The Institute for Government (IfG) has published claims from an anonymous No 10 insider who said Mr Johnson gave a ‘clear steer’ not to make plans to manage school closures and exam cancellations as he feared this would make them more likely.

The think-tank’s report described the period following the March 2020 closure of England’s schools as ‘chaos’ and the most disruptive period in education since the Second World War.

It stated: ‘The most unforgivable aspect of what happened is not just the failure to make contingency plans in the summer of 2020 but the refusal to do so.’

The Institute for Government (IfG) has published claims from an anonymous No 10 insider who said Mr Johnson gave a ‘clear steer’ not to make plans to manage school closures and exam cancellations as he feared this would make them more likely

The claims were yesterday rubbished by the Department for Education, which said contingency plans were drawn up for the 2021/22 academic year in August last year and for 2021 exams in October last year. 

But the head teachers’ union NAHT said the report ‘highlighted the frustrations’ of schools during the pandemic.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary, said: ‘I have never understood the failure to make contingencies for exams in the face of the obvious risk and whole profession calling for them.

‘This report exposes the sadness of the profession over the failures.’

The think-tank’s report described the period following the March 2020 closure of England’s schools as ‘chaos’ and the most disruptive period in education since the Second World War

The paper comes ahead of A-level and GCSE results days next week, when students will get their grades despite exams being cancelled for a second year due to the pandemic.

Teachers are tasked with deciding what grades students get, since many missed out on large chunks of the curriculum because of school closures.

Schools closed for much of the pandemic, although they reopened briefly in the autumn and then again in March this year.

Teachers were asked to provide online lessons, but quality was patchy, and many pupils did not have access to a laptop.

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