Education Secretary Michael Gove slammed over East Durham schools ‘slur’

Michael Gove
Michael Gove
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LABOUR leaders are “outraged” at a Government minister’s “insult” that brands local schools as having a lack of ambition.

Michael Gove has sparked anger after he said you can walk into an East Durham school and “smell the sense of defeatism”.

The Education Secretary claimed a culture of low expectations still exists in some communities, and specifically named the former mining district of East Durham as one.

He blamed the long-established ruling Labour Party for contributing towards there being “no choice” in aspirations.

But Labour leaders have hit back, saying the area’s schools are high achievers and that millions of pounds have been invested in education, despite the Coalition government withdrawing the Building Schools for the Future scheme.

Mr Gove, speaking at the Central London launch of a book on school under-achievement, said: “There is a real problem of ambition in certain traditional communities, like East Durham, which needs to change.”

He said parents from working class homes want their children to have the chance to go to university.

But he added: “It is the case that there’s no choice, the local council has been one party for many years and when you go into those schools you can smell the sense of defeatism.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris said: “Michael Gove’s comments are outrageous and an insult to every parent, teacher and child in East Durham who are striving to improve standards and grades.

“The only culture of low expectation that exists is within this Government.

“He has never been to a school in East Durham and all he can smell is his own prejudice against children from working class families.”

Councillor Claire Vasey, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, labelled Mr Gove’s comments as “disgusting.”

She added: “Our standards have gone up year on year, faster than any other local authority, not only in this area, but throughout the country.”