Not vanity projects

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It beggars belief that Julie Elliott can criticise taking schools out of council control to convert them into academies without any mention of the plight of Children’s Services.

She may also like to explain to the headteachers of the many schools in her constituency that have voluntarily become academies why she feels this is a ‘vanity project’.

Academies, a Labour policy, accelerate improvement by 10% according to Ofsted, and are more likely than maintained schools to have good or outstanding grades.

But the main driver of academisation, under Labour and Conservative governments, has been to cut control by councils that do not deliver good enough standards or support.

In Sunderland, standards at GSCE remained below national average all the time the council controlled most schools but had matched it by the time most had converted to academies.

In case Julie has forgotten, the council’s Children’s Services department has been given an inadequate rating and the accompanying report was the worst in the entire country.

The report blamed ‘weak political leadership’ for failing to protect children, in stark comparison with Durham where the service – with the same funding and same political control – is highly rated.

Local political control also fails to, if it is not accountable with Councillor Pat Smith, never informing all the councillors of the problems.

Julie may also reflect on her view that Conservatives “do not care about the North East” as there are now 40,815 more pupils in good and outstanding schools than in 2010.

Conservatives do care about education in the North East, which is why the Conservative Government has removed Children’s Services and schools from the Labour council.

Robert Oliver