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Fury over Tory refusal to name East Lancashire ‘weak’ schools
LIBERAL DEMOCRAT peer and Pendle councillor Tony Greaves has branded Education Secretary Michael Gove’s refusal to name the 19 “underperforming” East Lancashire primaries on a hit-list a disgrace.
He hit out as he backed county Conservative leader Geoff Driver’s opposition to the government forcing failing schools to become academies.
Lord Greaves used a Parliamentary question to ask Mr Gove to name the schools branded below standard when senior official Liz Sidwell came to Lancashire in July.
The Schools Commissioner said 36 primaries were “weak” and should become academies.
They included five in Hyndburn, four in Burnley, two in Chorley, five in Pendle and three in Rossendale.
County councillor Driver, Tory leader of Lancashire Council, criticised Ms Sidwell’s visit and her refusal to name the affected schools.
Lord Greaves put down a question at Westminster asking the schools to be named but Conservative Mr Gove refused citing confidentiality. The peer said: “This is disgraceful.
“You cannot just come and smear unnamed schools scaring parents, heads and governors.”
He backed County Coun Driver who said this week that forcing schools in difficulties to become academies might leave children without classrooms if they continued to fail and had to be closed.
He originally made his view clear in letters to Mr Gove when he was trying to persuade Walverden Primary in Nelson to take the academy route and recently stepped up his criticism.
He said: “We worked with Walverden to improve results and I am delighted to say that worked and the school has stayed in local authority control.
“That is what we believe is the best way forward with schools in difficulties not forcing them to become academies.”
Lord Greaves said: “I share his concerns.
“So-called failing schools need help, not being forced into academies.
“We do not want schools suddenly closing leaving parents looking for alternative places for the children. ”
A Department of Education spokeswoman said: “Academy sponsors have a track record of turning round struggling schools across the country.
“We must root out under-performance wherever we find it and drive up standards so that all pupils reach their potential.”
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