SMS has now had time to digest yesterday’s Hansard of the Adjournment debate called by Nadine Dorries and supported by Alistair Burt and here we publically thank them for their support of the parents and taxpayers in their constituencies.
Just a pity that Patrick Hall seems to be keeping a very low profile. As a well-known supporter of the switch to two-tier, perhaps he would make his current views widely known, especially with a general election less than a year away. The voters of Bedford and Kempston deserve better than this.
And to clarify this immediately: SMS is, of course, completely apolitical and composed of many individuals from across the political spectrum, including many who do not usually participate in political issues of any kind. We are a pressure group, not a political party.
The critical points made by Iain Wright (the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families) are:
“It would be wrong for me to stand at the Dispatch Box and state, for example, that in all cases a two-tier system automatically lends itself to higher educational success.”
“Local people and agencies know best what is most appropriate for their area, based on an acute understanding of these complex factors, and can make judgments on school reorganisation accordingly.”
“My Department has no prescribed view on any particular pattern of school provision. Both two-tier and three-tier systems can be successful and effective, so we think that it is up to the local agencies, in close consultation with affected local parents, to decide how school provision is organised in their area.”
“We have no plans to phase out middle schools as a matter of national policy or to remove support from three-tier systems where they exist.”
“It is important to dispel the notion that the substantial Government money available through Building Schools for the Future and the primary capital programme is somehow conditional on the local authority changing the manner in which its schools are organised—that we would not provide the money unless it changed to a two-tier system.”
“I can say that we have funded, through Building Schools for the Future, a number of local authorities that have middle schools in areas such as Hertfordshire, Kent and Staffordshire, and, closer to my patch, in Newcastle upon Tyne and North Tyneside.”
“I do not know the specific proposals that Bedfordshire local authorities will bring forward or the agreements that will be made with Partnerships for Schools. A whole range of different factors is in play, notwithstanding the complex area of public finances post-2011. However, I can say that school reorganisation is based not on funding but on educational rationale and attainment.”
Iain Wright refused to be drawn on public finances and the guarantee of money post-2011.
The money doesn’t exist. Do not believe it. The country is in a dire financial state.
To commit to this massive capital programme at this point would be an appalling decision based on dogma and fantasies of the future rather than a pragmatic assessment of what is possible.