Secondary Education: Isle of Sheppey

Education – in the House of Commons at on 27 February 2023.

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Photo of Gordon Henderson Gordon Henderson Conservative, Sittingbourne and Sheppey

What steps she is taking to improve secondary school education on the Isle of Sheppey.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

It is critical that secondary education on the Isle of Sheppey improves. Following Ofsted’s judgment that the island’s only secondary school was inadequate, the Department for Education and the incumbent academy trust, Oasis Community Learning, have mutually agreed to transfer the school to another trust. That work is underway, and in the meantime Oasis is continuing to work to improve the academy.

Photo of Gordon Henderson Gordon Henderson Conservative, Sittingbourne and Sheppey

The Isle of Sheppey, which makes up 40% of my constituency, has just one large academy split across two sites, two miles apart. Sittingbourne, on the other hand, has five good secondary schools. Because of the lack of choice on Sheppey, many parents send their children to the mainland. That results in 1,000 children being bused to the mainland every day, which is putting enormous pressure on Sittingbourne’s schools. Does my right hon. Friend agree that my constituents on Sheppey deserve the same quality of secondary education as is offered to those on the mainland? If so, will he support my campaign for the current Isle of Sheppey academy to be replaced by two schools, one specialising in academic subjects and the other offering a vocational and technical curriculum?

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

My hon. Friend and I have discussed the provision of secondary education on the Isle of Sheppey on many occasions, and I pay tribute to him for his strong advocacy for higher school standards in every part of his constituency. He makes compelling arguments about the school being on two sites, which are two miles apart. The combined school has a capacity of 2,400 pupils —more than enough for two schools. Currently, the Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey is being moved to a new multi-academy trust, and I look forward to working with that new trust and my hon. Friend to ensure that we are delivering the quality of secondary education that he wants for his constituents and that parents in his constituency are demanding.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

The Government missed their secondary teacher recruitment target by 40% this year, meaning that more and more children on the Isle of Sheppey and across the country will be taught by non-specialist teachers and will be attending schools that are woefully understaffed. In the midst of a teacher recruitment and retention crisis, does the Minister really think that removing a quarter of teacher training providers will help address that crisis?

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The accreditation of teacher training providers resulted in 179 very high-quality teacher training providers being accredited. A number failed the accreditation, but we want to ensure consistency of teacher training in our system. In terms of teacher recruitment, there have been challenges with secondary education teacher recruitment this year post covid. Recruitment is a problem right across the economy, not just in teaching, but prior to the covid pandemic we were recruiting near to our targets, and in primary education we exceeded those targets.