The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, has defended his decision to take over a secondary school in Derby because of "serious concerns" about standards. In an exclusive interview with ITV Central, Mr Gove was speaking for the first time about Sinfin Community School since the controversial move last November.
His personal intervention led to the removal of the governing body and its replacement with an interim executive board whose first priority was to consult about turning the school into an academy. It's only the fifth time Mr Gove has taken such a step nationally. Today he said action had to be taken following a history of poor achievement at the school, even though 2012's GCSE results were above the Government's own floor mark.
"Sinfin has been an underperforming school for years now," he told ITV Central. "The education that children at the school have received has simply not been good enough. And as an parent I'm afraid if there are other adults that want to stand in the way of children getting a good education then I just want them out of the way."
Mr Gove also criticised teachers at the school who staged two days of strike action last month in protest at the move towards academy conversion. He described the stoppages as "union antics".
Dave Wilkinson, secretary of the Derbyshire branch of the NASUWT union, accused the Education Secretary of interfering in Sinfin's future for his own political ends. "This is not an underperforming school, " said Mr Wilkinson. "It's making enormous improvements. It doesn't need to become an academy. He doesn't need to play political games with the children at Sinfin."
In response to Mr Gove's comments about the strikes, Mr Wilkinson added, "This is a serious attempt to preserve community education for the children of Derby and for the community of Sinfin - certainly not union antics. We wouldn't need to take strike action if it wasn't for the Secretary of State's political antics."
The NASUWT and NUT unions are considering further strike action in the near future. The school's consultation about its academy plans continues until 28th January.