MP Angela Rayner to speak at public meeting on Redbridge school cuts and academisation

Venda Premkumar, Redbridge NEU branch secretary. Picture: Imogen Braddick

Venda Premkumar, Redbridge NEU branch secretary. Picture: Imogen Braddick - Credit: Archant

The shadow secretary of state for education, MP Angela Rayner, will be joining Redbridge councillors, parents and campaigners today (July 10) for a public meeting on school cuts and academisation in the borough.

Representatives from GMB London and the National Education Union (NEU) will also be at the meeting at Redbridge Town Hall.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Ms Rayner said: "I want to join local Labour Party campaigners, councillors, the GMB and NEU Unions, parents and teachers in demanding that this government gives local people in Redbridge a genuine say over the future of their schools and their children's education.

"The Tories' academy system is simply not fit for purpose.

"That is why Labour will end the forced conversion of local schools to academies, scrap the inefficient free school programme and instead focus on delivering what works to get the best results for pupils.

"The Tories have thrown money at an academy and free school programme that is not improving outcomes for pupils, even while individual schools have their budgets cut year after year.

"We now routinely see the shocking sight of schools begging parents for financial support just to ensure that they have basic equipment and supplies.

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"Labour will full our schools properly and restore morale in parents, teachers and education staff facing Tory cuts."

Councillor Elaine Norman, Redbridge Council's cabinet member for education, will be speaking at the meeting and local parents will also have the opportunity to have their say.

Responding to Ms Rayner, Linda Huggett, leader of Redbridge Conservatives, said: "Is Labour now tied up in knots about the academies they originally introduced?

"Although Labour have now shifted to a more hard-line school policy saying that they intend to scrap the current academy system, dozens of its own MPs are part of a group still opening new academies nationwide. That doesn't make any sense.

"Labour seem to be pulling in totally different directions on their schools policy which is not dissimilar to their stance over Brexit or their current leadership crisis.

"The Conservatives believe in freedom of choice. It should be up to its own local community to decide what type of school they wish to have and how they are run rather than be dictated by central government which Angela Rayner is advocating for.

"Education should be about parental choice and this is what the confused Labour policy is trying to stop.

"No restriction should ever be placed on a child's democratic right to be properly educated."

Academies minister, Lord Theodore Agnew, told the Recorder: "It is nonsense to suggest that the academies programme is, according to Angela Rayner, not fit for purpose.

"We are improving education for all children regardless of background - the latest figures show that 85per cent of children are in good or outstanding schools, compared to just 66pc in 2010. This is in part down to our reforms, including more than half a million pupils in sponsored academies that typically replaced underperforming schools.

"The reforms of the last nine years show that autonomy and freedom in the hands of excellent leaders and outstanding teachers can deliver an excellent education. Opponents to academisation place the interests and future of children at the bottom of their list of grievances.

"The education secretary has also been very clear that as we approach the next spending review he will back head teachers to have the resources they need to deliver a world class education in the years ahead."

The meeting starts at 6pm at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.