East Ham MP Stephen Timms slams Chancellor’s ‘troubling’ schools plan

East Ham MP Stephen Timms

East Ham MP Stephen Timms - Credit: Archant

East Ham MP Stephen Timms has slammed George Osborne’s “troubling” plans to turn every English school into an academy by 2020.

The Chancellor announced a whole host of measures in yesterday’s budget including the introduction of a sugar tax on soft drinks and the freezing of fuel duty for a sixth year in a row.

He also unveiled measurers to make all primary and secondary schools in England become academies by 2020, or have official plans to do so by 2022.

However the Labour MP, who was once Minister of State for Schools, insists there is not enough evidence to suggest the scheme would be a success.

“It isn’t clear that converting schools into academies is a route to high standards,” said Mr Timms.

“That ought to be the concern here – what can we do to achieve high standards?

“The argument is ambiguous about whether academies are able to deliver higher standards than local education authorities.

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“This is quite troubling in the primary sector where schools can benefit from working together with other local schools.

“You can make the case for secondary schools, and I don’t think it’s overwhelming by any means, but with primary schools I don’t think the evidence is there at all.”

A new £27billion rail upgrade was announced for the capital with Crossrail 2, a north to south link, getting the green light.

Mr Osborne also announced that duties on beer, cider and whisky will remain frozen but tax on all other alcohol types will rise in line with inflation.

And although troubled by the government’s growth forecasts, Mr Timms believes the Chancellor got it right with the sugar tax.

“I do understand why George Osborne decided he needed to do that,” he added.

“There is a real issue about childhood obesity and sugary drinks are part of the problem.

“If he can come up with a way that helps to deal with that effectively then he has my support.”

What do you think of yesterday’s budget? How will it affect you? Email mark.shales@archant.co.uk or call 020 8477 3824.

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