Dean of Ely takes to Twitter - the layman’s ‘pulpit’ - to take a swipe at education minister Gavin Williamson

PUBLISHED: 22:08 16 May 2020 | UPDATED: 22:08 16 May 2020

Education secretary Gavin Williamson (left) found himself on the receiving end of criticism from the Dean of Ely, the Very Revd Mark Bonney (right). The dean's wife Kate (centre) is a headteacher, pertinenta Twitter storm.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson (left) found himself on the receiving end of criticism from the Dean of Ely, the Very Revd Mark Bonney (right). The dean's wife Kate (centre) is a headteacher, pertinenta Twitter storm.

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The Dean of Ely took to Twitter – the layman’s ‘pulpit’ – to react angrily to education minister Gavin Williamson and his plan to re-open schools.

Mr Williamson said last week that “all of us in education have a duty to work together to get children back to school”.

But the Very Revd Mark Bonney tweeted that “when Gavin Williamson says teachers should ‘do their duty’ what the hell does he think they’ve been doing for the last eight weeks?

“My headteacher spouse is beside herself at inflammatory language”

The dean also took to task Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England,

Ms Longfield called for coronavirus testing of teachers, children and families but the dean was unimpressed with her later comment.

“I am disappointed that the debate about when some primary school kids can return has descended into a squabble between government and the teaching unions,” she said.

The dean tweeted: “The schools’ commissioner helpfully wades in to tell teachers to stop squabbling. She has no idea - never been a teacher!”

The Very Revd Bonney, Cambridge and Oxford educated, has been the dean of Ely since 2012 – his wife Kate is head of Robert Arkenstall primary school at Haddenham.

An Osted report in 2017 credited her for bringing a “calm and positive style of leadership to the school”.

The school has been conducting a survey – that ended on Friday – asking parents for their views about a partial re-opening.

A statement on school’s website says: “We currently have a small group of children who are accessing some in-school provision for priority groups like key worker children.

“We are able to do this with this number of pupils, whilst maintaining effective infection control measures and social distancing.

“Having more children in school will present challenges and returning to school will be contingent upon a number of factors, including staff availability and the number of key worker children we must provide for.”

The statement adds: “In order to follow guidance in maintaining social distancing, class sizes will need to be significantly smaller.

“Schools have been instructed to split classes into separate groups, with separate staff, staggered break and lunch times, and staggered pick-up and drop-off times.

“This, with an emphasis on hygiene and cleaning, is the DfE’s guidance on how to implement protective measures with increased school provision”.


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