Thomas Bennett can be saved. Once the leading school in West Sussex for Special Needs and with one of the country’s best value added scores, under Academisation the community college has suffered years of cuts which have brought it to the brink of collapse. Teachers have held on desperate to support the kids, but their patience is wearing thin and school performance is dropping with every cut the chain makes.
For months parents, teachers and campaigners have demanded the Government puts the school back into the community’s hands. Since I called for its return our MP and county council have joined the efforts to give residents back their school, unfortunately a Parliamentary question this month has shown the Government has no intention of letting the public take back control of Thomas Bennett, leaving the future of local education in doubt.
It doesn’t have to be this way. I write from Labour Conference in Liverpool where Angela Rayner, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, has announced that a Labour Government would do what the Conservatives will not, and put Crawley residents back in control of their schools, ending the Academy chains who have pushed up the salaries of their bosses while cutting back on the resources for our children.
Labour will go further than that though, councils will be given the power to build schools again, ensuring there are enough places for all Crawley children, while ending the Free School policy which jeopardised the education of too many of our town’s young people.
For years our MP, who until the last election was part of the Conservative education team, has promised he would sort out the funding crisis which for far too long has left local schools struggling. Yet after eight years representing us thing’s have kept getting worse. Labour will deliver what he has promised but failed to secure and ensure that every local school gets the funding it needs to not only survive but thrive. Education is the key to the future of our children and our country, Labour are the only party who will invest in that future.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council