Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 5:19 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Shadow Secretary of State (Children, Schools and Families) 5:19 pm, 11th January 2010

I reject that view; I think that those parents have more say. They can vote with their feet, as the Secretary of State pointed out in his Cass lecture last year. Parents have more control over their children's education, and they have more choice, enabling their children to attend a school that more accurately reflects their needs, as a result of academies increasing the diversity of their provision.

Many of these academies-including Mossbourne community academy and Burlington Danes-are able to help students who are falling behind, precisely because they are free to depart from the national curriculum. Both of those schools arrange intensive catch-up work-of the kind that the Secretary of State lauds-throughout year 7, but the only reason that they have been able to do so is that their heads and teachers have pioneered that approach outside the demands that had been placed on them centrally.

Given that professionals have pioneered those innovations, why does the Secretary of State believe that more bureaucracy is always the answer? Is it really right to prescribe everything in such minute, and sometimes conflicting, detail from the centre? Why is it right, as Mr. Laws also asked, to insist on one-to-one tuition at key stage 2, for those who are falling behind at primary level, but to accept that small group tuition is sufficient for those in the first year of key stage 3 who are still falling behind at secondary school? Why should not those pupils have an entitlement to one-to-one tuition as well? When the Secretary of State was asked about this earlier, he said that it was a matter of professional judgment. Why is it his judgment that professionals should have that discretion when pupils are falling behind in year 7 but not when they are doing so in years 4, 5 or 6? There might well be an answer to that question-

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