image source, ANDY RAIN
Gavin Williamson has been the most prominent education secretary for England since Michael Gove - but probably not for the right reasons.
If the pandemic had a politician, it would always be Mr. Williamson - often the lightning rod of irritation and exasperation of families facing disruption and U-turns at schools and exams.
Now he has become one of the big victims of the Prime Minister's reshuffle - tweeting upon his departure that it had been a privilege to serve "despite the challenges of the global pandemic ".
This can bembler a long time ago now, but before the pandemic Mr Williamson was seen as the bearer of good news.
His predecessors as education secretary had been constantly criticized for lack of funding for schools - but Mr Williamson arrived with the promise of a £ 7bn raise . It was a lot of money and big ambitions.
The trouble only really started when his department collided with the 'giant iceberg of Covid.
The first breach was a major U-turn to get all the primaries and the schoolchildren back to school, then there were self-destructive battles with Marcus Rashford for free meals during the holidays.
Online learning at home has tested the patience of parents and fueled concerns about the loss of learning and the hokey-cokey's boredom entering and leaving school, with hundreds of thousands of students regularly having to isolate themselves.
But the biggest disaster was last year's exam chaos, with multiple U-turns and late-night swerves in politics that saw grades skyrocket and his top official in the department and the head of exam supervision both come out.
The fact that these senior executives had to resign while he remained on place didn 't add to his reputation shine.
source image, image caption The exam results system used last summer has sparked protests
There has never been a full independent investigation into what went wrongBorn with the 2020 exams - so it's hard to know who was really to blame. But it severely damaged Mr Williamson's credibility - and there was no shortage of people on his side who were willing to point fingers in private.
And his ratings in polls among Tory supporters remained decidedly negative.
As the former Chief Whip, it was said that his chances of survival were increased by knowing where the bodies were buried. But he also prepared political enemies to come back to haunt him.
Mr. Williamson, who has never seemed to complain about the criticisms leveled at him, might also feel aggrieved at being blamed for decisions that were never due to an individual minister.
This was encapsulated in plans to reclaim schools in January 2021, when his resolve to open classrooms was overturned almost immediately by another lockillage.
The exams he wanted to continue were canceled again and the long-awaited remedial plans turned to dust when the catch- Tsar Sir Kevan Collins denounced the lack of funding .
The education secretary doesn 't write the checks, but he ended up with a balloon punctured from a policy.
The results of the replacement exams this year, with much of the responsibility given to teachers and schools, have not encountered any of the major problems of the past year. There would have been reasons for quiet celebration that everything had gone relatively well - not an easy accomplishment in what remains of unprecedented circumstances.
But after a successful reopening of schools this fall, it There was another trigger moment when in an interview withthe London Evening Standard it seemed to confuse two sportsmen blacks, Marcus Rashford and Maro Itoje . It was another giveaway for his detractors on social media.
It's hard to know what the legacy of his education plans will be, as he never really had the opportunity to start them, beyond the pressure to put more emphasis on skills and continuing education. The pandemic has eclipsed everything else.
Will he bounce back to an important post in government? At 45, he is still young by political standards and has the Northern, Public School and non-Oxbridge degrees for government upgrade plans.
He certainly seems ready for a fight, describing himself as having the skin of a rhino.
But there were times when he looked distinctly tired - like a conversation inline with the school principals where he extolled the virtues of have a dog who would always be there for you .
" Every day has not been brilliant, "he tells them.