HC Deb 14 December 1993 vol 234 cc816-7
3. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what steps he intends to take in the light of the examination results at Stratford grant-maintained school.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Mr. Robin Squire)

It is for the governors of the school to take whatever steps are necessary to improve the school's academic performance.

Mr. Banks

I was tempted to give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner).

Is the Minister aware that before Stratford school opted out, its exam results were above average in the London borough of Newham, and that since it achieved grant-maintained status it has been below average? The Office for Standards in Education has moved in to inspect it because it is perceived to have failed. Under the legislation, there is no provision for an education association to be imposed to replace those governors. What does the Minister intend to do about Stratford school? Will he simply throw more money at it? Is he aware that the school is touting for pupils in the area? It is a total mess as a result of interference on ideological grounds by his wretched Government playing party politics with the educational needs of the kids in my constituency.

Mr. Squire

Even at a time of charitable Christmas good will to the hon. Gentleman, I find comments about political interference from such a source rather rich. He is right to say that we are awaiting the result of the inspection report. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will wish to study that report before determining the next steps to take. The hon. Gentleman is also right to say that the school's examination results in the past year were disappointing, but it would be unusual if we were to take excessive action on the basis of one year's examination results—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I adjudge that there is now complete agreement across the Floor of the Chamber about the excellence of schools and how we should be raising standards. I entirely welcome that. Let there be no doubt that if the hon. Gentleman's question is motivated by a desire to raise standards at that school, he will find the same desire on this side of the Chamber. Powers are available, in extremis, to the Secretary of State to cope with the problems that the hon. Gentleman has identified.