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Education Provision: Northamptonshire

Volume 621: debated on Monday 6 February 2017

12. What recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of education provision in Northamptonshire; and what steps she plans to take to improve that provision. (908597)

We are concerned that the quality of education in too many Northamptonshire schools is not good enough, especially for disadvantaged pupils. We are using new powers to tackle inadequate schools and to move them into strong multi-academy trusts. We are also working with the local authority, teaching schools and academy trusts to ensure that schools are receiving appropriate support to help them to improve.

Educational attainment in Northamptonshire, sadly, is still below the national average. What is the single most important thing the local education authority should be doing to raise standards?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work in seeking to raise standards in Northamptonshire schools. In October, together with hon. Friends representing Northamptonshire constituencies, we met the director of children’s services at Northamptonshire County Council to discuss academic standards in Northamptonshire schools. That included discussions about standards in phonics, which I would say is the single most important issue; key stage 2 SATs in reading and maths; GCSE results; and the EBacc. I have taken a close interest in the schools in my hon. Friend’s county, and we are meeting again in April to assess progress.

Unfortunately, the Minister is absolutely right. Sir Christopher Hatton school in my constituency is outstanding, but we have two inadequate schools—Rushden and the Wrenn—and the Minister will shortly meet me and the chief executive of the Hatton Academies Trust. Does he agree that local academy trusts also have an important role to play in solving the problem with Northamptonshire’s education?

Yes, I do agree with my hon. Friend. Collaboration between schools, particularly in local multi-academy trusts, is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that we spread best practice and that schools in a multi-academy trust help one another to raise aspirations and the standard of academic education our children receive.