Alderman Blaxill School

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:12 pm on 22nd October 2007.

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Photo of Ken Purchase Ken Purchase Labour, Wolverhampton North East 10:12 pm, 22nd October 2007

As ever, I am grateful for your superb guidance, Mr. Speaker, and I will stick to that very narrow point by making precise comparisons.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned church schools, which are bedevilling—forgive the pun, which was not intended—education in his constituency. The reason given for establishing academies there is that they will provide more parental choice. My constituency has three private schools, a girls grammar school, four Church schools, two foundation schools, a city technology college, Walsall academy, St. Thomas More Catholic school and a raft of specialist schools. In fact, the situation has become impossible for a liberal-minded parent who wants a school for their child that is non-selective, non-sectarian and non-fee-paying. This is how, in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, like mine, the choice agenda has resulted not in a wide liberal choice for progressives, but in a narrowing of opportunities, which are restricted basically to those of a regressive understanding of education.

I shall pick up on a point that concerns our constituencies that has been made by the Public Accounts Committee. It has found that the academy movement is overspending both in capital and start-up, that it does not provide best value, that the sponsors are taking contracts from their schools and that there is a high exclusion rate. I think that you are perhaps getting ready to get to your feet again because my comments are not narrow enough, Mr. Speaker, but I am trying my best to reinforce the hon. Gentleman's point. A Tory policy is being implemented by bully-boy tactics, and it is not, in most cases, in the best educational interests of the young students of this country. I am happy to support the hon. Gentleman's Adjournment debate.

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