Speaking in Parliament, Imran has tentatively welcomed the Government’s Northern Schools Strategy, but cautioned against forced academisation of schools that will hinder progress.
Highlighting the similarities with the Labour Government’s London Challenge programme that reversed the educational fortunes of many young people in the capital prior to being abandoned by the Coalition Government in 2011, Imran has labelled the Government’s change in strategy as one in which they have come a step closer to seeing sense and accepting the proven results of the London Challenge.
The proposals put forward as part of the Northern Schools Strategy include:
- £20 million a year to raise education standards
- Bringing in support from proven leaders and outstanding schools in neighbouring areas;
- Boosting funding available for turnaround activity in coasting and vulnerable schools;
- Looking into further ways to get and retain the best teachers.
Imran has repeatedly called for action in Bradford and the North on these issues under the broad umbrella plan of a ‘Bradford Challenge’ based on the London Challenge, and has met with Department for Education Ministers to discuss these proposals.
However, he has laid out a series of concerns that he has with the Government’s plans, and expressed the need to see further details of the plans before a final judgement can be reached. In particular, he has remained cautious that the programme of academisation was not the way forward, questioned whether conditions for further funding would be attached, and challenged the government’s record on teacher recruitment and retention.
Speaking on the announcement of the Northern Schools Strategy, Imran said:
“Let me be clear that this Budget highlights the Chancellor’s failure on growth, productivity and debt reduction, and contains further crippling cuts for the most disadvantaged in the form of attacks on Personal Independence Payments (PIP), but I tentatively welcome the plans for a Northern Schools Strategy which has the potential to address the serious educational failings in Bradford.
“A replication of the London Challenge model for Bradford and the North was one of my key pledges at the General Election, and I am pleased that the Government are finally beginning to see sense and accept the achievements of the London Challenge by rolling out this Schools Strategy across the North.
“I am however unconvinced that the academy aspects laid out are the way forward and there are still many details of the Schools Strategy that need to be clarified before I wholly welcome the strategy with open arms, so I will therefore be meeting in the next few weeks with Nick Gibb MP, the Minister for Schools to discuss my various concerns.”