Failure of Tory education proposals

Hexham Labour Party convened an urgent meeting of its Executive Committee to discuss the crisis in education in West Northumberland after Conservative County Council announced its education proposals which intended to close many schools across the area.

“We support the various Parents' Groups that are campaigning in support of their local schools. The voices of parents and communities need to be heard – and listened to” said Bill Haylock, Secretary of Hexham Constituency Labour Party.

Labour Party members active in the campaign to keep schools open welcomed the withdrawal of the closure programme by the Tory controlled council after wide spread protest. Daphne Gilbert an active campaigner in STARS and member of Prudhoe Labour Party said ‘support is still needed for Bellingham Middle School which is still under threat of closure.’

Furthermore it remains the case that Hexham's Conservative MP Guy Opperman, and the Government he represents, were the architects of the crisis. They foisted Academies like Bright Tribe on the region and, in the name of Austerity, failed to provide the funding schools need.

Tory education policy needs to recognise the particular needs of a sparsely populated rural area like West Northumberland, which inevitably has higher costs, and to provide more money for our schools.

What is now happening in West Northumberland is the inevitable product of Tory education policy:

  • real term funding cuts have pushed many schools into deficit - many have laid off teachers and teaching assistants so class sizes get bigger and the remaining teachers even more stressed.
  • an ideologically-driven marketisation of schools through the Academisation and Free School policy, which has led to fragmentation, lack of strategic oversight and lack of accountability.
  • schools have been taken out of the hands of local authorities and handed over to commercially-driven academies which are competing against each other and considering what is best for their financial bottom-line and their individual empire-building plans, rather than what is best for children.

Labour will create a National Education Service, along the lines of the NHS, and provide sufficient funding so that all schools are given the support they need to provide high quality education for all children, wherever they live.

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