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Academies (Kettering)

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

1. What assessment he has made of the effect on educational attainment levels in Kettering at the GCSE stage of the establishment of the two academies there. (205964)

At present there are no academies in Kettering. However, statements of intent have been agreed and my Department is in ongoing discussions with the local authority about the possibility of two schools in Kettering becoming academies. Where academies are established the aim is to achieve educational transformation, significantly improving levels of pupil attainment and benefiting the wider community, including neighbouring schools.

The two hoped-for academies at Ise community college and Montagu school will attract additional investment in local education in Kettering and would be most welcome. What steps are the Government undertaking to monitor individual academies’ performance around the country, so as to understand what makes the most successful academies work best and in order to spread best practice to all the others?

I am grateful that the hon. Gentleman welcomes the possibility of the two academies in his constituency. Indeed, we carefully monitor the work of academies and we are not alone in doing so—the National Audit Office regularly looks at it, as do others such as the Select Committee. In 2007, the NAO concluded that GCSE performance in academies had improved compared with that of predecessor schools and that, taking pupils’ personal circumstances and prior attainment into account, academies’ GCSE performance is substantially better on average than that of other schools. Comparisons in this area are always welcome.

Pupils from my constituency have to be bussed to Kettering for their secondary education because under this Government and a Labour county council, John Lea secondary school in my constituency was closed and demolished. Given all the thousands of new homes to be built in my constituency, what plans do the Government have to build a new secondary school there?

It is a bit like going over old ground, but I am grateful that the hon. Gentleman has not raised that matter for a few sessions of oral questions—he has done so several times in the past. As ever, I explain to him that his Tory friends who run Northamptonshire county council are responsible for school organisation, and he needs to take the matter up with them.