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Lancashire County Council leader slams 'damaging' academy push
9:14am Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
LANCASHIRE Tory leader Geoff Driver has stepped up his campaign to stop Education Secretary Michael Gove forcing county schools to become academies free of local authority control.
He has warned the Conservative cabinet minister it was damaging children’s education.
Coun Driver has been supported in his criticism by Blackburn with Darwen Labour schools’ boss Tony Humphrys.
But the Department for Education rejected the broadside saying it “cannot just stand by if a school is failing children”.
County Coun Driver said it was “unacceptable” for the government to apply un- due pressure on Lancashire primaries to seek acad- emy status, and he called for an urgent meeting with Mr Gove. Coun Driver tells him: “For some time I’ve been concerned that this could be having an adverse impact on the education of the children of Lancashire. It’s taking too much time of the managers of the schools.”
The row between the two has been running since July when Mr Gove sent a senior official to Lancashire to claim 36 county primaries – including five in Hyndburn, four in Burnley, two in Chorley, five in Pendle and three in Rossendale – were “under-performing”, while not naming them.
Coun Humphrys said: “For once, I share Geoff Driver’s concerns. This constant pressure to become academies is disrupting schools and preventing them from educating children.”
A DfE spokesman said: “We cannot stand by if a school is failing children. Ministers are clear that the best way to turn round under-performing schools is with the strong external challenge and support from academy sponsors.”