Gavin Williamson handed knighthood by Boris Johnson

File photo dated 17/08/20 of former Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson in his office at the Department of Education in Westminster, London. Mr Williamson said it
Gavin Williamson, who has been sacked as a minister by two successive prime ministers, has been handed a knighthood. (PA Images)

Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Gavin Williamson has been handed a knighthood.

The MP for South Staffordshire was sacked as education secretary by Boris Johnson in a cabinet reshuffle in September 2021 after holding the position for two years.

It is understood the knighthood is being given to Williamson on the basis of his political and public service.

He was widely criticised for his strategy on A-Level and GCSE results during the pandemic, which caused immense disruption for hundreds of thousands of students.

“It has been a privilege to serve as education secretary since 2019," he said at the time.

"Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, I’m particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led in post-16 education: in further education colleges, our Skills agenda, apprenticeships and more."

Read more: Awkward moment Gavin Williamson repeatedly refuses to reveal his A-level results in live interview

However, in response to his sacking, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) Kevin Courtney said: “We can’t pretend we are sorry that Gavin Williamson has gone."

And in January, MP Christian Wakeford - who defected to the Labour Party - said that he was warned by Williamson funding for a new school in his constituency would be stopped if he voted for a motion criticising the government for its policy on free school meals.

Williamson was also sacked by former prime minister Theresa May, who removed him from the post of defence secretary in 2019 following an inquiry into a leak from a National Security Council meeting. He has denied leaking information from the top-level meeting.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson in Westminster, London. Picture date: Wednesday January 27, 2021.
Gavin Williamson's management of exam results during the pandemic garnered fierce criticism. (PA Images)

An announcement on the government website on Thursday said: "A Knighthood has been conferred on the Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson CBE MP."

In January, The Sunday Times reported a knighthood was being considered by Number 10 for Williamson to "keep him quiet" after he was shuffled out of the cabinet.

Labour have slammed the move, claiming it showed "utter contempt" for children and teachers.

"Gavin Williamson left children to go hungry, created two years of complete chaos over exams and failed to get laptops out to kids struggling to learn during lockdowns. His record is astonishing and disgraceful," said shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson.

"Boris Johnson is proving again it's one rule for him and his mates and another for the rest of us.

"This shows utter contempt for the challenges children and education staff have faced during the pandemic."

Read more: Gavin Williamson 'ignored advice' and cancelled A-levels and GCSEs

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran questioned why he had been knighted for doing what she described as “an abominable job”.

“One does have to wonder… does Williamson know where all the (horcruxes) are hidden," said the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon.

"I can’t think of any other reason why he has been honoured for doing such an abominable job.”

Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, tweeted: "The only award Gavin Williamson should be given is the one for worst Education Secretary in history.

"Parents across the country will be outraged at this reward for his abysmal failures."

Watch: Gavin Williamson: Teaching unions 'can't pretend to be sorry' over exit of 'disastrous' education secretary