Friday 21 September 2012

MP Quashes Labour's False Accusations

Further to my previous post I feel compelled to reproduce below Rob Wilson MP's piece about education and specifically the new Reading UTC because of the utter rubbish the Reading Labour Group has been spouting:

Around Westminster with Rob - Education

Thursday, 13 September, 2012

Since I became the MP for Reading East in 2005 I have made it a priority to try to improve the education that young people receive in my constituency. I’m not saying it has been easy, as Reading has massively underperformed for years as an education authority as local Labour Councillors have bought into educational socialism in Reading even at a time when Labour nationally under Tony Blair and Andrew Adonis were rejecting it.

I am very proud to say that in recent years progress is being made, although there is still much to do. Part of that progress is the new Reading UTC, vehemently opposed by Labour’s Reading Councillors. But one only has to look at the performance of Highdown as an Academy and the big improvement in Bulmershe to see the progress. Bulmershe has responded well to the challenge that a UTC presents and the local authority in Wokingham is putting in enormous investment to deliver a school that will soon be excellent.

However, Reading UTC (which definitely opens in September 2013) is not being opposed on the basis of rational argument, the tactics used are utterly reprehensible and beneath contempt. The pretext is pretending to represent local people, but the agenda is the same old educational socialism.

Yet Reading UTC is going to be an absolutely brilliant school, educating children in a different way, but producing highly qualified young people with technical skills directly relevant to the local economy. It has huge backing from world class companies and will send children on to university or the world of work with the best possible start in life. Why would Labour oppose this? Because it wants to control schools, because it wants a one size fits all type of education, because it wants to oppose the Government. All narrow sectional party interests, forgetting the people who really count, our children. I find it reprehensible and parents should reject them.

So what are they saying? That the Department of Education bought the land at Crescent Road and sold half of it to a developer (some have said to fund the school half). Completely untrue. The Department of Education bought what it required for 600 children from the University of West London (previously TVU), the sale of the other half of the land is nothing to do with the DoE or Reading UTC. I hope the local Labour Party will be taking this up directly with the vice chancellor of the University of West London, who I understand was previously a member of their party and a Labour candidate at elections. Of course I am sure he has disavowed his previous connections as any sane person would!

Then there is the accusation that the UTC will build on green space. Again completely untrue. Reading UTC will protect green space on the site. They said that the project was going to collapse , which was never the case. They said the University of Reading would withdraw support, it hasn’t. That companies were pulling out, also completely untrue. That it doesn’t serve the needs of Reading. How a school backed by world class companies doesn’t serve local skills needs takes some working out? Where have these dinosaurs been for the last 30 years as the UK skills base has fallen behind the rest of the world? Where have they been as our education system has fallen behind the rest of the world? This new UTC is the most relevant thing to happen in education in east Reading since Victorian times and will be transformative.

The base and squalid accusations about the school have been endless since I first raised the idea. The Labour Councillors responsible, and they know who they are, are the worst kind of political ambulance chasers I have ever come across. UTC Reading is going ahead, Labour in Reading must now make a decision whether to continue to try to wreck it, or give all our children a chance of social mobility through a great education.