The ArgusGove blames East Sussex for schools’ struggles (From The Argus)

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Gove blames East Sussex for schools’ struggles

Education secretary Michael Gove has threatened to turn a group of struggling primary schools into academies – and blamed council bosses for getting in the way.

In a letter to East Sussex MPs, Mr Gove delivered a withering assessment of the county’s primary schools, saying “too many schools continue to underperform”.

In a broadside to the county council, he said academies were the best way to turn the schools around and accused the local authority of failing to pursue “sponsored academy solutions”.

In the letter – one of only two sent to local authorities across the country due to poor school performance – he wrote: “One of the main barriers to progress has been the position of the council.”

But last night it emerged that Mr Gove had never raised his concerns with East Sussex County Council – even though he had met with officials as recently as yesterday morning.

Matt Dunkley, the director of children’s services at the council, said he had met with Mr Gove yesterday (November 8) and found the letter, which was not raised with the council, “baffling”.

'Astonished'

He added: “Firstly we are the co-sponsors of three academies and last year, together with the Department for Education (DfE), we brokered sponsors for four primary academies.

“Secondly, we have been in dialogue with the Government about a number of under-performing primary schools in recent months and when we discussed academy options for those schools, the DfE said it did not have appropriate available sponsors at present for all the schools concerned.

“It is completely inaccurate for them to describe us as a barrier to progress, or indeed to suggest that we are resistant to schools becoming academies.”

There are currently five primary schools in East Sussex which are rated as unsatisfactory by Ofsted – Pells Primary School in Lewes, Meeching Valley Primary School in Newhaven, Park Mead Primary School in Hailsham, All Saints C of E Junior School in Hastings and Mountfield & Whatlington Church of England Primary School near Battle.

Rosalyn Le Pierre, the council’s Liberal Democrat opposition spokeswoman for education, said she was “astonished” by the arrogance of the education secretary.

She added: “Becoming academies is not the answer because no one can make an intervention in an academy. When they go downhill the local authority is powerless.

“A number of schools do not want to become academies and they are not going to be bullied into it.”

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Comments (7)

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9:08am Fri 9 Nov 12

still waiting says...

Having seen the nice Mr Gove's performance on a range of issues I'd like to assure ESCC that I would worry if Michael Gove was NOT lambasting them: they're obviously doing something right, and at least it means that, as an East Sussex taxpayer, I won't be picking up the bills as acadamies start to fall by the wayside in the next year or two.
Having seen the nice Mr Gove's performance on a range of issues I'd like to assure ESCC that I would worry if Michael Gove was NOT lambasting them: they're obviously doing something right, and at least it means that, as an East Sussex taxpayer, I won't be picking up the bills as acadamies start to fall by the wayside in the next year or two. still waiting
  • Score: 0

10:03am Fri 9 Nov 12

theleftygiraffe says...

I blame Michael Gove.
I blame Michael Gove. theleftygiraffe
  • Score: 0

10:52am Fri 9 Nov 12

banargustrolls says...

Repulsive man.. I would not be surprised if he turns up on one of the 'lists' that are doing the rounds in the news arena.
Repulsive man.. I would not be surprised if he turns up on one of the 'lists' that are doing the rounds in the news arena. banargustrolls
  • Score: 0

12:03pm Fri 9 Nov 12

wietraurig says...

How does this square with the government's "localism" agenda, to transfer power and influence to local communities?
Or perhaps it really means that they can have that power and influence only when they want to exercise it in the direction chosen by the central government.
All power to ESCC's elbow in telling Gove to get lost.
How does this square with the government's "localism" agenda, to transfer power and influence to local communities? Or perhaps it really means that they can have that power and influence only when they want to exercise it in the direction chosen by the central government. All power to ESCC's elbow in telling Gove to get lost. wietraurig
  • Score: 0

12:10pm Fri 9 Nov 12

bruce_ says...

Yes, ESCC should rather take Gove's intervention as a kind of compliment. This man appears to know little about education, and to be doing his best to forget that little. My own objection to academies is that the "sponsor", in exchange for a fairly trifling donation, is given the right, as I understand it, to influence both the curriculum and the choice of teachers. And, as the Libdem lady says, when they fail, the local authority can do nothing; in fact, it can't even be blamed! But Gove, like his Labour predecessors, thinks that's fine, apparently.
Yes, ESCC should rather take Gove's intervention as a kind of compliment. This man appears to know little about education, and to be doing his best to forget that little. My own objection to academies is that the "sponsor", in exchange for a fairly trifling donation, is given the right, as I understand it, to influence both the curriculum and the choice of teachers. And, as the Libdem lady says, when they fail, the local authority can do nothing; in fact, it can't even be blamed! But Gove, like his Labour predecessors, thinks that's fine, apparently. bruce_
  • Score: 0

12:33pm Fri 9 Nov 12

Tailgaters Anonymous says...

Gove as a former journalist clearly has deep knowledge as to what is needed for educational establishments in Sussex, NOT!
Gove as a former journalist clearly has deep knowledge as to what is needed for educational establishments in Sussex, NOT! Tailgaters Anonymous
  • Score: 0

5:12pm Fri 9 Nov 12

janee says...

I have some advice for Mr Gove. Sort out the failing academies first, then tell us that the academies programme is improving standards. It is definitely not the case that academies have improved results but, I suspect, they have increased the profits of companies providing bespoke school uniforms.

The problem is that when academies are failing, the local authority can only stand by and watch - they have no power to intervene - and some academies have been failing for some time.

It is also true that, where an academy shows improved exam results, it is likely that a) they are massaging results by extensively using vocational courses or b) the predecessor school had already been showing improvements.
I have some advice for Mr Gove. Sort out the failing academies first, then tell us that the academies programme is improving standards. It is definitely not the case that academies have improved results but, I suspect, they have increased the profits of companies providing bespoke school uniforms. The problem is that when academies are failing, the local authority can only stand by and watch - they have no power to intervene - and some academies have been failing for some time. It is also true that, where an academy shows improved exam results, it is likely that a) they are massaging results by extensively using vocational courses or b) the predecessor school had already been showing improvements. janee
  • Score: 0

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