DUDLEY’S children’s services boss has accused Education Secretary Michael Gove’s department of employing “interfering” and “bullying” tactics to try and get at least three borough primary schools to become academies.
Councillor Tim Crumpton, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said the representatives of the Education Secretary have visited the borough numerous times recently to hold meetings with the headteachers of the three schools.
Cllr Crumpton, who is “fundamentally opposed to the concept of academies”, has sat in on each meeting and he says Mr Gove’s officials from the Department for Education have taken a threatening tone.
He said: “I was told - ‘if you interfere we will take away responsibility for education from you’.
“The person concerned believed I was trying to interfere in her discussions but I was trying to make sure that what we get at the end of the day is the right thing for our kids.
“What they want to do is take away the local authority’s ability to work with schools.”
But he said: “I don’t give in to threats, I’ve fought all my life against bullies.
“We should have the ability to work with our schools.”
He said if a school and its staff, governors and parents vote unanimously to convert to become an academy he would not have a problem with it.
But what he doesn’t agree with is “somebody from down London coming up here” to satisfy Mr Gove’s agenda to get more schools to become academies “without the child’s education being the primary need for it”.
He added: “It’s about people making profit out of education. They’re trying to interfere and force schools to become academies and the only schools they’ve chosen so far are already improving.”
Cllr Crumpton said he would like to see struggling borough schools working as part of a trust with other schools to help lift standards and he added: “We are not a deprived inner city area like he might be used to.”
He said he has since written to Mr Gove’s chief civil servant complaining about the “bullying” and “unprofessional” behaviour of department representatives and said: “I’ve had a response I don’t find helpful.”
No-one from the Department for Education was available for comment at time of publishing.