In their frantic efforts to smear free schools in Bradford, Labour woke Gerry Sutcliffe from slumber and got him to ask a question of the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, who replied:
I also stress that for many years the quality of education in Bradford has been appalling, yet it is only when new providers come in to innovate that we hear from Opposition Members.
And the truth is that, taken in the round, Michael Gove is right. The performance of Bradford's schools, when compared to other local authorities, has been appalling. We shouldn't take any pleasure from this situation, nor should we try to play some sort of game with the information. We should do something to change the situation.
So what does Bradford's most eager politician say (when he can drag himself away from sucking up to trade unions so he can try and get to be an MP):
“I’m saddened, disappointed and thoroughly insulted. Standards are rising significantly and we take action when we are allowed to deal with schools that aren’t performing. We continue to put additional resources into school improvements and in attempts to raise standards."
Hold on there Ralph? Did you say standards are rising significantly? That is simply untrue:
Bradford’s primary schools have recorded the third worst results in England in tests sat by ten and 11-year-olds earlier this year, new figures show. A shocking one in three (32 per cent) of children are failing to achieve the standards expected of them in the Three Rs by the end of their primary education.
Education standards have not risen at all - let alone significantly. Michael Gove is right - our performance is appalling. This isn't a criticism of teachers but a statement of the truth. And rather than saying you're "insulted" by the revelation of that truth, perhaps actually doing something might be an idea?
Instead what we get is more bureaucracy, more unwanted politicking and an unpleasant campaign against educational innovation in the city - where the Council's leadership does the bidding of the teacher unions rather than serve the interests of children and parents.
Telling the truth about our schools isn't the insult. The insult is not doing the things that might make things better, might give Bradford's children a better start and a better chance in life.