New Labour spin doctor behind Stratford free school plan

Blair man who coined “education, education, education” reveals proposals for controversial scheme

A former New Labour spin doctor believed to have coined the phrase “education, education, education” has been revealed as the man behind plans to open a controversial free school in Stratford.

Peter Hyman — a speechwriter for ex-prime minister Tony Blair — is leading a team of teachers who propose to open what will be known as Newham School 21 in September 2012.

He left his Downing Street position in 2003 to enter the teaching profession and is currently deputy head at Greenford High School in West London.

The school, which will take children aged four to 18, will address a “desperate need for places”, he told The Recorder.

The group has promised an “investigation-based” approach to learning and a focus on the English language.

A location has yet to be finalised, although it is understood the group is close to agreeing a site close to Stratford station.

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Positive discussions are said to have taken place with Newham Council.

School 21 is now canvassing support from parents to secure central government support and funding.

Mr Hyman said: “We are driven by one thing above — to give every child who comes to our school, whatever their background, the best possible education.

“The response from parents has been fantastic. Large numbers are signing up to say yes to the new school.

“This is a really exciting time for a new project in Newham and we are looking forward to working with parents, children and the local community.

“Our children will come out brilliant at reading, writing and adding up.

“More than that they will be taught how to be resilient, how to be creative and how to shop self-discipline.”

Mr Hyman is being assisted by Oli de Botton, who was a member of David Miliband’s campaign team in his failed bid for the Labour leadership.

The plans are also said to have the backing of Labour peer Lord Adonis, who helped steer through New Labour’s city academies programme.

Free schools are a flagship policy of the coalition government. Education secretary Michael Gove claims they will increase competition and drive up standards.

But critics, including the current Labour leadership, say they will divert cash from existing schools, fuel social segregation and undermine local democracy.