Gove lays down schools challenge

MICHAEL Gove has challenged Norfolk’s education bosses to drive a ‘pioneering’ programme to improve standards.

The secretary of state for education pushed Norfolk County Council (NCC) into raising standards at a meeting with Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, on Tuesday.

Raising educational aspirations and the funding regime for rural schools were discussed at the meeting, which was also attended by George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk.

Ms Truss said: “Since entering Parliament I have been pressing the Department for Education on the need to raise educational standards and provide our young people with the knowledge to aspire to the very highest level of their standards.”

The MPs sought assurances from Mr Gove that new funding measures would not penalise smaller schools.

He told them that there would be a minimum payment for small schools and a development of the academy system to ensure school links can be created.

Ms Truss said: “I am delighted that the secretary of state is listening and I feel reassured that he understands the challenges of rural schooling.

“I will continue to work with him to create an educational programme that not only benefits Norfolk but becomes a flagship programme for the whole of the UK.”

The meeting came after NCC announced plans to encourage schools with fewer than 50 pupils to join forces to become federations.

A report to councillors at a meeting on Monday showed that funding for pupils at the smallest schools is four times greater than the largest school.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “There are an increasing number of partnerships and federations in Norfolk and schools are working together very successfully.”