HIS MANTRA was: “We are on the way up” but it looks like it is the opposite for him as Thurrock Council’s education boss has stepped down from his role.
Cllr Oliver Gerrish has been in the post for two years.
The West Thurrock and South Stifford councillor’s reign got off to a bad start when after a number of months, he was asked by Tory councillor, Mike Revell, how many headteachers he had met?
Cllr Gerrish answered: “I have met a number of educationalists.”
Cllr Gerrish’s reign was one where he believed the best way to work with the growing independence of education was to forge ahead with: “Partnership work” which contrasted with cllr Diana Hale’s Cassandra-like concerns that the academy system was: “Grammar schools by stealth.”
Cllr Gerrish was handicapped by the number of primary schools being given “Requires Improvement” or “Special measures” Ofsted reports.
The genuine, articulate and personable councillor continued to believe that primary education was on way up. However, it appeared that Ofsted begged to differ with a string of underwhelming inspection reports that re-inforced the perception that standards were still far from where they should be.
He would not have been helped by the controversy surrounding Tilbury Manor primary and a Tory perception that he was too easily manipulated by council officers.
However, his brief was not just schools and he will want it to be noted that a number of depts in his portfolio received good reports from a number of sources.
There has not been an announcement on his replacement but many anticipate that the council leader, John Kent will grasp the thorny portfolio.