Education secretary Michael Gove praises Norfolk and Suffolk for embracing school reform

Education secretary Michael Gove brushed aside criticism of leaked proposals to bring back O-levels during a visit to Norfolk, where he praised the county for its willingness to embrace reform in schools.

Mr Gove was visiting Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey to turn the first sod on a �14m revamp and hailed Norfolk and Suffolk for 'motoring' on educational reform.

Highlighting the academy and its principal Rachel de Souza for special praise, he said: 'If only every school could do what they've done here.

'You had a school full of lovely young people with poor discipline, low achievement and staff who weren't really supported. It wasn't going anywhere.

'And then a mixture of the school becoming a sponsored academy, having support from outside and having a great principal in Rachel de Souza has turned it around.

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'If anyone asked me what my ideal education policy would be it would be to clone Rachel 23.000 times.'

With a number of other academies and free schools having opened locally, he said: 'I think that Tania Sidney-Roberts' free school [in Norwich] is one of the most innovative in the way in which they have transformed a very handsome building.

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'In Great Yarmouth we now have Greenacre Primary School - one of the weakest primary schools in an area of real deprivation - becoming an academy, sponsored by Theodore Agnew and that's fantastic.

'Also, there are MPs in Norfolk who take a real interest in education.

'In that sense, you've got the political leadership, you've got wonderful people in civil society... doing a great job and more and more teachers who are stepping up to the mark.

'It's important that we do that because I think one of the problems there has been in Norfolk in the past is that we knew where the jobs are coming from, so perhaps schools weren't pushed and students weren't pushed like they should be, but now things are really motoring.'

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