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Academy Status

Volume 513: debated on Monday 12 July 2010

9. How many expressions of interest in academy status his Department has received from schools in (a) Nuneaton constituency, (b) Warwickshire and (c) England. (6964)

So far, 15 expressions of interest have been received from schools in Warwickshire, including one from an outstanding school in Nuneaton. A total of 1,836 expressions of interest have been received from schools in England.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Several schools in my constituency may wish to become academies. However, after 13 years of the previous Government, they are carrying a tremendous amount of debt, which seems to prevent them from doing so. Will he consider what he can do to make it easier for such schools to become academies?

I sympathise with my hon. Friend, who was so handsomely elected at the last general election—a fact that reflects how angry people in Nuneaton and across Warwickshire were at the scandalous way in which education was underfunded and managed by the previous Government. Let me assure him that I look forward to working with him and the local authority to ensure that the many outstanding schools and teachers in Warwickshire have the chance to enjoy the benefits of academies.

We know that the Secretary of State has had one or two problems with lists of schools in recent days. Is he aware that he has listed a number of schools almost as if they have applied to become academies, when all they have done is request information from his Department? Is he also aware of the comments of people such as Mark Lacey, head teacher of Parson Street primary in Bedminster, who said:

“We responded out of a desire to receive the information in order to keep up with what is happening—not because we want to become an Academy”?

Is that not another inaccurate list that the Secretary of State should now withdraw, just like the inaccurate remark he made earlier? As he will know, the letter from the permanent secretary actually corrected his mistakes, not the mistakes of my right hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Outwood (Ed Balls).

I am grateful for that “two for the price of one” question from the shadow Minister. The letter from the permanent secretary actually did correct the errors of the right hon. Member for Morley and Outwood. On the question of lists, as I said in my earlier answer, there were 1,836 expressions of interest. As the hon. Gentleman should know, being a former teacher, it is vitally important for people to listen in class before they put their hands up.