The Evening Post today published an article – ‘We must put children first’ 18/04/12 in which they reported that Rob Wilson MP and Michael Gove MP had condemned the Labour Administration in Reading for ‘an outdated assault on the academies programme’ with reference to a recent resolution passed at full Council. In fact, the resolution condemned the forced academisation of several local primary schools, against the wishes of governors, staff and parents.
We do believe that it is the school and local community who should decide on whether a school becomes an academy, and where schools have chosen that route we have continued to work with them for the benefit of the young people attending those schools. As a Labour administration we have never hidden our belief that schools should be accountable to locally elected councils and not to the Secretary of State via profit-making organisations, but, we have taken a pragmatic approach and vowed to continue to work with all schools, whatever their governance arrangements.
Similarly, as a Council we worked with the sponsors of the proposed University Technical College in East Reading, when what was being proposed was an 11 to 19 school for young people in east Reading. Our opposition to the latest proposal for a 14 to 19 Technical Academy with a catchment area from High Wycombe to Basingstoke and Newbury to Windsor is because it does not meet the needs of families and young people in east Reading. The petition which Tony Jones presented to Cabinet called upon the government to reconsider their scheme by widening the age range and curriculum and narrowing the catchment.
We are further castigated for not supporting the drive to improve standards, what nonsense, when standards in Reading schools have consistently risen over many years. Our prime concern is to be able to offer a high quality educational experience to all young people. Our projections show that all schools which children from east Reading currently attend will be full in only a few years time. Rob Wilson’s Technical Academy will not help address this urgent need.
If anyone is indulging in political posturing it is the Tory MP for Reading East.