Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Tories call for not so quiet revolution in education

THE Conservative education spokesman has reacted to Labour Councillor Oliver Gerrish’s resignation as cabinet member for education.

Homesteads Councillor James Halden said “Oliver has always been extremely polite and earnest in his dealings with me, and I did send him a short message last week to personally wish him well.”

When asked what this means for the department, Cllr Halden said “In the last three months we have seen a director go, and a cabinet member go. Both of whom insisted that we were on the way up. This is to the backdrop of multimillion pound overspends, and the 3rd worst ratings for access to good primary schools in the nation. The only way to improve a problem to admit a problem exists.

Former Labour Home Secretary John Reid said this when he acknowledged that the home office was “not fit for purpose”. I’ve said it for over a year now and I’m saying it again, Thurrock needs a new start and accept the state this department is in. It needs a new education revolution and start freeing schools from the red tape of this council.”

Looking ahead, Cllr Halden said “While I’m sure there will still be disagreements to be had, I will work with whoever takes on the mantle on the Labour benches to achieve the cross party target of having every school as good or better. This will start as I prepare to give evidence to the Thurrock education commission next week, where I will be repeating my policy – shrink the council, release money to the schools, and help foster independence from this big brother council.”


  1. Cllr Halden is having a laugh isn’t he? Is he trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes?

    He claims he is going to give evidence to the Thurrock Education Commission next week where he will repeating HIS policy of releasing money to schools.

    The way schools are funded is being reformed at the moment so Cllr Halden is claiming credit for a policy that is going to happen anyway. Perhaps he should have a peak at the School Funding Reforms briefing papers issued by the Department of Education.

    Unless of course Cllr Halden wrote these reforms so he can actually claim they are ‘HIS’.

    The rest of his waffle has plenty of soundbites but where is the meat?

    It is no good saying you want to free schools from the red tape of the council without spelling out exactly what rules and regulations and red tape you want to free schools from?

    Are these rules and regulation made and imposed by the Council or is this statutory regulations from the Government that local authorities have to impose on schools?

    It is no good giving evidence to the Commission if it just comprises of soundbites – Cllr Halden has to spell out which individual rules and regulations he wants scrapped.

    I wonder if the Department of Education has published a briefing paper on freeing schools from local authority red tape?

    As for ‘fostering independence’ has Cllr Halden caught Michael Goves obsession for the one size fits all Gove’s academisation of all schools?

    One more thought on ‘cutting red tape’ and ‘shrinking the council’ is this coded language for switching off the school improvement and back-office services Thurrock Council provides to the Boroughs schools so Thurrock’s schools have no choice but to become academies?

  2. When members of the public look at schooling there are probably two basic things they want.

    The first is to get their child into a school close enough to their home so that they don’t have to trek miles or even send their child to a school out of the area.

    Secondly and probably most importantly parents want a decent education for their children.

    Judging by the stories people see in the media, Thurrock Council looks to have failed on both counts.

    If the director and councillor in charge of education both leave their posts just before a regulators report is due It hardly inspires confidence.


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