Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (28th June 2012) said that Education Secretary Michael Gove should “stop trying to run Middlesbrough’s schools from behind his office in London, and let local heads, councils, teachers and parents decide the school structures that suit our children”.
He said this after Press reports of unattributable briefings that Gove has singled out Middlesbrough council “because they have been less co-operative with ministers in tackling under-performance in their schools than others who may have a worse record in national curriculum tests. Their schools will be expected to embrace new sponsors and, most likely, new heads in an effort to turn their performance around. If they still do not co-operate, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has the power to sack the governing body and impose his own interim executive board to run the school before it becomes an academy”.
“This is sheer meddling based on dubious figures which do not compare like with like. Middlesbrough, like many Northern industrial towns face huge problems of poverty, bad health and joblessness – all factors that affect home life and from this, a child’s progress in the class room.
“To combat such things you need more than a change of name over a school door, the finding of some private sector partner to be dragooned into putting cash into a school, or the sacking of popular heads. It requires investment, government recognition of need and help for local education authorities to improve performance. The reality is that, from Gove’s perspective, this has more to do with him pushing his own political line and putting this above the hopes and expectations of parents. This anonymous attack on sound schools here in Middlesbrough just demonstrates that this is not about running a quality education service but more to do with victimising people who don’t agree with his own agenda.”