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East Lancashire schools on Tory 'hit list' aren't named
EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove’s department has come under fire for sending a senior official to Lancashire to claim 36 of the county’s primaries – 19 in East Lancashire – are “under-performing” while not naming them.
Last week the government schools commissioner, Liz Sidwell, hit out at these “weaker” primaries.
She also said they should become semi-independent academies to boost results.
Lancashire County Council’s Conservative leader Geoff Driver and National Union of Teachers North-West executive member Si-mon Jones condemned her and the department for refusing to name the schools branded as poor performers and explain why they had been targeted.
A DfE spokesman, who refused to name the “hit list” schools, defiantly defended the visit where Dr Sidwell had highlighted five underperformers in Hynd-burn, four in Burnley, two in Chorley, five in Pendle and three in Rossendale and Darwen.
County Coun Driver said: “I was surprised and disa-ppointed that the DfE chose to make an announcement in this way because not only does it seriously distort the position in Lancashire but also there is a danger it undermines all the very good work done by our dedicated teachers and, most of all, by the children themselves.
“Having made these claims publicly, we would have expected the DfE to share the necessary information to substantiate their claims.”
Mr Jones, also NUT secretary for Blackburn with Darwen, said: “I think it is despicable to send Dr Sid-well up here to say there are 36 underperforming schools in Lancashire, but not have the courage to say which they are and why.
An Education Department spokesman said:“There are good primary schools in Lancashire.
But there are others wh-ich have been sub-standard for too long.
“We cannot sit and watch as education standards for children fall below what is required.”
Two Blackburn with Dar-wen secondary schools have opted for academy status while five county schools in East Lancashire have done the same. Wensley Fold Primary in Blackburn is seeking it.
Governers: Our schools aren't failing
EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove has been blasted for labelling an East Lancashire school as ‘failing’ – by battling governors.
And the board at Nelson’s Walverden Primary have again insisted they will not be browbeaten into being ‘privatised’ by the Oxbridge-educated minister’s department.
Walverden is on a target list, drawn up by Mr Gove’s ministry, which would see the school ‘forced’ to become an academy. But this has been put on hold until autumn test results are known.
Philip Berry, chairman of governors at the Bracewell Street school, admits Walverden was served with a ‘notice to improve’ in March 2010 by education watchdog Ofsted.
But he stressed inspectors returned last summer to report the school was ‘rapidly improving’ and teaching had improved.
Mr Berry said: “Rapidly improving progress and good teaching are not characteristics of a failing school.”
Following criticisms by Ofsted regarding absenteeism, the school has worked with attendance officer Wendy Crossley and now has 96.7 per cent of pupils turning up.
The governors’ chairman is also confident autumn SAT test results will prove that levels of attainment, given a traditionally low starting point will be another boost.
He added: “Walverden Primary School is far from ‘failing’ and the strategies that have been implemented by the school, in partnership with the local authority, are working.”
County council leader Coun Geoff Driver has supported the Department for Education’s decision to suspend a decision on converting Walverden into an academy.
He said: “Our argument has been that Walverden has been improving, with our support, and that the school’s improvement plan will ensure pupils receive the high-quality education they deserve.”
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