16 JUN 2008

The Government's crazy school closure plan

Many parents will be terrified at the Government's plans to close schools. The threat is to close schools that fail to meet a benchmark of 30 per cent of pupils achieving at least five good GCSEs including English and maths. Schools like Archer's Court, which does great work, are wrongly placed under threat.

Now, we all want better results, yet this policy is clearly barmy. Every school is unique and one size does not fit all. Locally, head teachers have been pointing out to me that the existence of grammar schools makes it a lot harder for non selective schools to achieve this benchmark. This is clearly true.

So I have taken this up with the Shadow Secretary of State for Schools, Michael Gove MP, who he tells me that he is acutely aware of the issue and believes account needs to be taken of special factors that affect schools.

In working the improve the quality of education, the Government should not go around stirring up fear. It's just not a way to treat teachers, parents or our kids. The education of our children is too important and a more thoughtful approach is required.

The photo is of me giving tickets for the Archery competition to the head of White Cliffs Primary School, with Chris Russell, Head of the Astor Fedferation. The White Cliffs School story is a lesson for us all - catchment areas may be tough, but it doesn't follow that schools in such areas have to be rubbish! Well done to them for bringing hope for a greater future to our children.

I think it's great that we have such a variety of schools - faith based, grammar, non selective, independent, city academies. I would like to see that variety further increased, with more schools that offer workplace skills based vocational education. All of us who are parents of school age children know that getting the right type of school with the right culture is a priority. A greater variety will make it easier for parents to achieve.

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Charlie Elphicke

Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!

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