CONSERVATIVE MPs from Lancashire met Education Minister Michael Gove to discuss the academy programme during a private meeting in London.

During the sealed meeting, MPs discussed the school policy which has caused controversy in the county.

While it has been welcomed by a number of schools, there are concerns that “failing” schools could be forced to become academies, something county council Tory leader Geoff Driver has spoken out against.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “It was a general discussion, broadly supporting the government’s academy programme and talking about how we can move things forward.

It was just backbench MPs looking at how we would continue to work with Michael on a project that has been a success across the country. We want to see these benefits reach out to maximum numbers of schools in Lancashire.”

But Labour MP Graham Jones said: “Tory MPs in Lancashire have lots to be concerned about. Michael Gove says one thing and Geoff Driver says another.

“I agree with Geoff Driver’s policy and he has a lot of backing in Lancashire and that’s causing a lot of concern amongst Tory MPs.”

Burnley Lib Dem MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “If schools can’t get their act together, then there has to be an alternative.

“The failing of the school is either due to bad management or poor teaching.

“If the local authority cannot do that, then someone else will have to do it.”