Michael Gove, Will You Apologise to East Durham Schools?

Henry Stewart's picture
Last March the Secretary of State said of schools in East Durham that “when you go into those schools, you can smell the sense of defeatism.” He followed this up in parliament by listing 5 of the 6 secondary schools in the area and claiming they "underperformed dramatically". He continued his vendetta in September, claiming the schools were "not good enough".

Last week I wrote of how East Durham was one of two areas in the country with the fastest growing GCSE results in the country. Today's DfE data reveals they have done even better in 2013. With an average increase of 9.5% pts it would (if it was a local education authority on its own) be easily the area with the fastest growing results in the country. Here is how their increase compares to the 5 fastest growing local authorities in the country.

LA Top 5Increase 12-13
(East Durham)9.5%


The individual results for the schools are now rather impressive. All six schools have high levels of disadvantaged pupils yet their overall GCSE results of 66% are well above the national average of 61.6% (the proportion getting 5 A-Cs including Engish and Maths in 2013).

2013 GCSE Results       FSM      5 A-Cs
Shotton Hall38%79%
Dene Community School47%57%
Easington Academy44%71%
St Bedes & Byron37%59%
Seaham College36%71%
Wellfield Community School38%59%


The GCSE benchmark figure for schools whose % of students on free school meals falls between 35% and 50% (the range in which the East Durham schools fall) was 52.9%. Every single East Durham school has results above that figure. On any measure the schools are performing well. For instance, today the DfE boasted that the proportion of pupils in sponsored academies taking Gove's English baccalaureate has reached 22%. For these East Durham schools the figure is 35%.

Michael Gove, show some decency and apologise

It is clear that the Secretary of State, relying entirely on hearsay got it wrong. It is sad, and odd, that - rather than accepting his misjudgement - he instead repeated his slurs twice in parliament. There can now be no doubt that his attacks were misjudged. Will he do the decent thing and apologise? Will he take up the invitation to actually visit some of these schools?

Of course these is the issue of the Durham Free School, which has nine staff for just 30 pupils. This is hard to justify in any case, but surely next to impossible if he recognised the high standards of East Durham schools.


Note: Click through (10.8am) for a fine statement from local MP Grahame Morris (Easington, Labour) about East Durham schools.

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Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 24/01/2014 - 09:08

Just to make it clear, in case anyone criticises Henry's data. The 5-A-Cs column above refers to 5 A*-C including Maths and English.

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