Camden Learning seems to be providing excellent support

Thursday, 1st November 2018

• I WAS surprised to read two separate letters from Tory councillors trying to make political capital out of Camden’s schools, (In the schools debate Labour has misrepresented how business rates work, and Let’s talk about raising school standards in the borough, October 25).

Torriano Primary School was recently rated “outstanding” for the third time, and for the first time after its merger with the neighbouring infants’ school.

The support we received from Camden has been a crucial element of that success, second only to the dedication and hard work of our staff, pupils, parents and governors.

I have never hesitated to challenge Camden when it deserved to be criticised. Those occasions were relatively rare, and not confined to the years during which the council was controlled by Labour.

During the last LibDem-Tory administration in 2006 to 2010, Camden was obsessed with creating new academies and showed very little interest in improving the education provided by its existing schools.

As to central government, the various Tory, LibDem and DUP governments that have ruled over us since 2010 have inflicted a lot of pain onto state schools and provided very little positive support.

Among the most disastrous policies of the David Cameron era was the forced conversion of schools to so-called academies. Every week we hear a new story of financial mismanagement or cheating perpetrated by academies and “free schools”.

The progress and attainment of pupils in academies is no better than that in maintained schools, but the opportunities for corruption are much bigger.

I was not surprised, as academies have in their very constitution a lack of accountability, and are therefore magnets for crooks up and down the country.

Academies were originally a Labour policy, and this will sadly remain a stain on the otherwise excellent record of the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown governments in education.

The Theresa May government has been so preoccupied with Brexit that it has ceased to launch new initiatives in the field of education, though the cuts to school funding continue to bite.

Exhausted by its negotiation with Michel Barnier, the EU’s clever Brexit negotiator, the government is even slowing down on its attempts to turn schools into academies and to bring back selection at 11. One has to be grateful to M Barnier for sapping the energy of an incompetent government.

Your readers should perhaps be reminded that Camden Council has now delegated the best part of its support for schools to a new organisation called Camden Learning, which is owned by Camden’s schools; the council holds a minority stake. Are Tory councillors aware of that?

After its first year of operation, Camden Learning seems to be providing excellent support for Camden’s schools. Even better than what was previously provided by the council.

Chair of governors
Torriano Primary School

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