Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 6:51 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Labour, Vauxhall 6:51 pm, 11th January 2010

I think that what makes a good school is a good head teacher being given as much freedom as possible to get on with doing a good job. That is why, if I may say something positive about the Bill, I welcome the measures which, hopefully, will make it easier for successful schools to sponsor new academies and new types of school. Some of the outstanding schools in my constituency want to do more and have a record of changing lives in the area. We must make it easier for those, with the right leadership, to go ahead and do greater things.

I have some aspirational primary schools in Vauxhall. One, Durand primary school, has hugely important visions for future growth. I want to see the Government support such a school-for example, the Durand aim of developing its own all-through academy, with boarding provision from the age of 13 to A-levels. The school and the governing body want to move forward on that, and they have substantial funding in place. They know that central Government are on their side and they have already proved that they can deliver, having transformed a failing primary school in a socially deprived area of Stockwell into an outstanding provider, cutting class sizes, offering all sorts of organic food, providing subsidised after-school clubs-doing everything that makes it an ideal primary school.

The school does that because it has a visionary head and visionary teachers. They take a fairly sceptical view of the local authority telling them what to do. They get on with it. As a foundation school, it now wants to deliver an all-through academy which would offer free of charge boarding to children in its catchment area. It will not be a boarding school for the privileged few- 40 per cent. of the children who attend Durand live in overcrowded households, more than 50 per cent. receive free school meals, and more than 95 per cent. come from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Durand's proposals and other proposals from primary and secondary schools would offer life-changing opportunities for such children and create much-needed additional secondary places. We need a legislative environment-I am not sure that it is in the Bill, but parts of it may be-that will allow a school such as Durand to go forward and do what it does best, which is creating excellence for children.

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