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A revealing aside
16/07/2008 15:46:00

Monday night's Council meeting saw a debate on the Council's plans to raise standards in our secondary schools. You can watch the debate (it's about 20 minutes long), including yours truly's contribution, here.

The gallery was full of parents and pupils from the schools that the Council is considering closing, who are understandably concerned about what this will mean for them. It's essential that the Council listens to those concerns.

But there is another group of parents who weren't represented at Monday's meeting and we need to listen to them too. They are the one in three Croydon parents who send their children to a Croydon primary school but not to a Croydon secondary school.

There was a revealing moment during the debate that won't have been caught on webcam. The Leader of the Council was reading out a letter from a parent in Selsdon who said that they had wanted to send their child to a Croydon secondary school but, because of their concern about standards, had felt they had no choice but to go private. At this point, Cllr Stuart Collins, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, turned to Cllr Tony Newman, the Labour Leader, and muttered - with some disdain - "Tory members".

Actually, Stuart, one in ten of the parents who send their child to a Croydon primary school takes the same decision. There's no way they're all Tory members (I wish they were). They clearly don't have any prejudice against the state sector - they've chosen to send their children to state primary schools. They simply the best for their children, don't believe that our secondary schools provide that and are willing and able to pay to get it.

Why do I think this is revealing? Because it illustrates a real difference between the parties. We see parents choosing not to send their children to Croydon secondary schools and think there must be something wrong with our schools. Labour thinks there must be something wrong with the parents.

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Gavin Barwell, House of Commons, SW1A 1AA, Tel  020 8660 0491      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG