Educating Norfolk: Mr Gove, please answer our questions about education in Norfolk and Suffolk

Education Secretary Michael Gove. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire Education Secretary Michael Gove. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
8:43 AM

Improving education is the most important issue facing the future of Norfolk and Suffolk - and yet for two weeks secretary of state for education Michael Gove has repeatedly refused to be questioned about what he is doing about it.

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In the past year, poor league table rankings and damning Ofsted reports have thrust our performance onto the national stage, and today business leaders tell us how the skills gap they battle against every day could cost our economy and our youngsters.

The stakes could not be higher, and yet Mr Gove has refused repeated requests to talk to the EDP to reassure residents he is aware of the issues, and tell us what he is doing about it.

Over the past fortnight, the EDP has approached Mr Gove through the Department for Education, Conservative Central Office, MPs and ministers, but he declined to be questioned.

So today the EDP is publicly calling on Mr Gove to answer 10 key questions about the state of education in Norfolk, and show that the future prospects of our county are being taken seriously at the highest levels of government.

Here are the 10 questions we would like him to answer:

1) How seriously do you take concerns about education in Norfolk?

2) What is your assessment of the current state of education in the county?

3) What are you doing to improve education in Norfolk?

4) Are you confident that strategies currently underway by the county council, academy trusts and others will improve education in the county?

5) Should Norfolk County Council retain control of its children’s services?

6) Do Norfolk schools receive a fair level of funding?

7) To what extent is the recent focus on Norfolk due to the government’s drive to increase the number of academies in the county?

8) Should parents and local communities have a vote on whether their schools become academies?

9) What is the government doing to address Sir Michael Wilshaw’s concerns about education in market towns and coastal resorts, and for white, working-class children?

10) What assessment has the government made of the impact educational under-performance in Norfolk is having on the economy of the county, and the UK as a whole?

What questions would you like to ask Mr Gove about education in the region? Comment below or tweet @EDP24

20 comments

  • Question 8 should be reworded to include the word "binding". Gove could claim that parents are given a vote through the mandatory consultation process, even though it generally happens after the fact. But as the case of Dorothy Barley school shows, with 84% opposing Gove's academy option, it's just a figleaf which will be ignored if it's inconvenient.

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    djw

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • 3. What is Mr Gove doing to improve things in Norfolk? I should like to ask what is NORFOLK doing to improve things? Sitting back and blaming someone else - that is quite normal in our modern blame culture. Negative attitudes to new ideas will not help in the slightest.

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    Patrick

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • Another one: If academies are as wonderful as Gove claims, why does he need to force schools into them? Shouldn't the evidence speak for itself? Related to that, isn't he worried that by forcing schools to become academies (and forcing Norfolk County Council to force schools to convert), he risks turning academies into a punishment, rather than a way of improving our children's education?

    Report this comment

    djw

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • Sadly there's no chance of Gove replying. He has too much to worry about elsewhere as one of his academy chains fails, and other academies show what "out of control" really means. Bring schools back under democratic local controlinfluenceguidance, take them away from these unelected chains, and from church control too, for that matter.

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    Johnboy

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • How about.. "Did you really influence the OFSTED inspection grade for Ormiston Victory by sending your reps on the second day of inspection?"

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    TheTruth

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • You're asking Michael Gove those questions??? The reason there's no response is because he doesn't have the first clue. Between him and Ofsted, schools stand little chance of improvement. Smaller class sizes, more teachers and let them TEACH.

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    becksy

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • What is Castles stance on this ?. After all, he is in charge of education and schools at the Kremlin ?

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    "V"

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • Who mentioned 'low aspirations'? So much truth in that as a Failure Point among schools, pupils, teachers, educationists. And this is so English .. a generally negative attitude to anyone who has ideas and is prepared to voice them! In order to support the underdog, we have to create underdogs in the first place.

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    Patrick

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014

  • At last real journalism. It's about time someone took Michael Gove to task after all the damage he and Ofsted have done to the morale of staff and pupils in so many schools. Keep asking the questions and send a few in Ofsted's direction too. School should be right for the community and the pupils and not just a desperate chase for Ofsted ratings and league table success.

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    Jasmine

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • Five words......Sean Harford, Mr Gove's poodle!

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    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • It is impossible for schools in Norfolk to ever succeed when Ofsted is no longer independent of the DfE and strives to find evidence to support assumptions made by faceless minions who sit behind desks in London. Take for example one school, a primary, that converted to a church school. Nothing changed, the building, children, community, majority of staff and the leadership remained the same. The school had some of the top results in the County, had a track record of success and was consistently above the national floor targets. Massive parental support and very happy children. Along comes Ofsted who say its a new school and cannot consider any past data therefore there was not enough data at time of inspection to show the massive level of progress the school still achieves with children and they declare the school as Requires Improvement - totally demoralising! Ofsted team would listen to nothing anyone had to say that was good about the school. Report published and then, lo and behold, a new report issued 6 weeks after publication of final report which had been rewritten by Ofsted to be even more negative than the first! How is this possible?

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    Captain

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • of course he will and the EDP will claim it as some sort of victory in their editorial

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    Double Bill

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • He has no answers because he and Truss haven't a clue obsessed as they are with their ridiculous FAILING academy policy.....he is also a liar; he said 3 years ago that academies were the panacea for success which is increasingly being proved to be wrong......look at E-Act academy chain today. These failures stack up daily and thank goodness academies still only account for 10% of all schools despite the bullying and dishonesty. The DfE and Ofsted are a total disgrace and thankfully Norfolk people have very little regard for either except "V" of course who is probably the DfE's and Ofsted's perfect mouthpiece so keep it up V to help their total demise.

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    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • ".....and yet Mr Gove has refused repeated requests to talk to the EDP to reassure residents he is aware....." I dont blame him. The EDP will probably censor his answers or re-write them to suit their own agenda

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    "V"

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • well he will force more schools into becoming academies, allow more free schools, force schools into being open longer (cheap child care, who cares about education?), increase class sizes, and then when the standards drop even further he will blame the teachers. Isn't that what we expected anyway?

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    davidbrian56

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • He won't answer,too busy working out how to use exercise as a punishment in schools.

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    Reader

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • When Mr Gove visited Ormiston Victory academy last year he is quoted as ssaying that his ideal education policy would be to clone Rachel De Souza 23000 times (see Issue 8 of their school magazine on their website). That should tell you everything you need to know about his views on education in Norfolk. The quote was even noted in her personal profile on the Inspiration Trust website but has since made way for the news of her Damehood.

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    Row71

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014

  • He has no answers because he and Truss haven't a clue obsessed as they are with their ridiculous FAILING academy policy.....he is also not being straight; he said 3 years ago that academies were the panacea for success which is increasingly being proved to be wrong......look at E-Act academy chain today. These failures stack up daily and thank goodness academies still only account for 10% of all schools despite the bullying and dishonesty. The DfE and Ofsted are a total disgrace and thankfully Norfolk people have very little regard for either except "V" of course who is probably the DfE's and Ofsted's perfect mouthpiece so keep it up V to help their total demise.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • You answered your own question about what is and has been in wrong with norfolk education by carrying a report with the statement that rurality and low aspirations go together Some young twerp saying Norfolk historically has low skills , aspiration and ambition is what is wrong, It is a fallacy held only in the minds of those from out of Norfolk and those who had a vested interest in keeping a cheap work force in hand and those who excused their incompetence by blaming pupils and their families. It is an insult to every child of a farmworker or rural worker who went on to university and the professions, to every craftsperson and businessperson who worked hard at their tiny primary schools and tin pot secondary school. The head of my own grammar school had low aspirations for pupils unless they were from professional families and I bet there are readers out there who know their family wanted the best for them but faced schools run by people with preconceptions about what kids from rural homes were hoping for.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • You should also ask him how much he has spent on free schools (3 prime city sites, cost of refurbishment etc), when there is no demographic need for them. The follow up is could that have been better spent on improving existing schools.

    Report this comment

    pablo

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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