David Cameron has defended his government’s education proposals amid criticism from union leaders and economists.
The state of Norfolk’s education sector has rarely been out of the spotlight in recent years, with almost half of our area’s schools deemed inadequate or requiring improvement in their most recent Ofsted inspections.
And, last autumn, the chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, suggested children were “unfortunate” to be educated in the county.
But, during his visit to RAF Marham, Mr Cameron claimed that 5,000 fewer children in East Anglia are now attending failing schools.
Referring to the decision to change the inspection regime so that schools which were previously deemed “satisfactory” are now said to require improvement, he said: “I will not be satisfied until all schools are either good or outstanding.
“It’s not satisfactory if you’re not good.”
The comments came just days after the Prime Minister pledged to protect schools funding in cash terms if the Conservatives win the general election.
The commitment was attacked by political opponents, union leaders and economists, who argued it would amount to a real terms cut in funding of up to 10 per cent during the next Parliament.
But Mr Cameron insisted: “We have given a guarantee that spending on each pupil will be protected.”
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss also pointed to the recent announcement of investment in improved buildings at the Downham Academy, Marshland High School in West Walton and the Nicholas Hamond Academy in Swaffham, which are part of a £2 billion national programme, as evidence of the government’s commitment.
And she rejected anger at policies towards further education after the lack of a spending commitment for colleges was criticised.
She said: “We are working on making sure further education colleges and sixth form centres do a good job.
“What we want to see is these colleges and schools offering quality. We are seeing a revival in sixth forms.”