HC Deb 18 July 1996 vol 281 cc654-5W
Mr. Forman

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will make a statement on the future of Langham secondary school, Haringey.[38773]

Mr. Robin Squire

The following letter was today sent by an official of the Department to the chairman of the governing body of Langham school, HaringeyI am directed by the Secretary of State to thank you for your letter received on 14 June 1996 giving the governing body's response to Mr. Stark's letter of 9 May 1996, which consulted you on a proposal to provide for Langham School to be conducted by an Education Association. The Secretary of State has considered carefully all the responses she has received, including the representations made by the school's governors and the chief education officer of Haringey when they met with the Minister for Schools, Mr. Squire on 2 July. The Secretary of State notes that the Governors have a clear sense of purpose and show dedication to the school. She notes that they have taken a firm grip on finance and management, and that in June they appointed a substantive head teacher and deputy head teacher. She also notes that in the past few months there have been encouraging signs of improvement at the school, including a sharp fall in permanent exclusions, an improvement in the key stage 3 SAT results, and an increase in the proportion of pupils entered for GCSEs. She also notes the Governors' assurances that measures are in hand to improve the quality of teaching, including where necessary competence proceedings. She has also noted the assurances from Haringey LEA that it will provide continued support to underpin improvements at the school. Therefore the Secretary of State has decided not to transfer Langham School to the conduct of an Education Association at the present time. However, the Secretary of State's power to transfer Langham School to the conduct of an Education Association remains in force until such time as the school receives an HMI report stating that it no longer requires special measures. The Secretary of State will continue to watch carefully developments of the school and will pay particular attention on to the report of the next HMI monitoring visit, which we understand is likely to be in November. The Secretary of State remains concerned by one aspect of the responses from the Governors and LEA. In the earlier stages of consultation the chief education officer of Haringey contested the validity of the HMI monitoring report of March 1996. Subsequently, however, the chief education officer has said that standards of teaching had in fact fallen sharply between November 1995 and March 1996, but has argued that remedial measures had begun to remedy the situation by the time of the March 1996 HMI visit. The Secretary of State is disappointed that the governors and LEA did not make this complete view of the position clear to her much earlier, especially since they were given the opportunity to do so. In particular, the Secretary of State considers that the action of Haringey LEA in impugning the validity of the HMI monitoring report was unjustifiable and reprehensible. The Secretary of State believes that Langham School and others in its position can recover only if their governors and local education authorities are open in their reports on the situation. She is concerned that this has not happened at Langham, and proposes that you and the chief education officer of Haringey meet the Minister for Schools, Mr. Robin Squire, at this Department to discuss this further. A meeting has been arranged for 3.00pm this afternoon, Thursday 18 July. I am also writing in similar terms to the Director of Education Services at Haringey Council, the Head Teacher of Langham School and the Chief Executive of the Funding Agency for Schools. N J Sanders Director, School Funding and Effectiveness and Teachers