Conservative leadership hopeful Liz Truss criticised for comments on Leeds schooling

Liz Truss is among five candidates still in the running to be Conservative Party leader. Credit: PA

Comments by Conservative leadership hopeful Liz Truss that fellow pupils at her comprehensive school in Leeds were let down by low expectations and poor standards have been branded "shameful" by city leaders.

The Foreign Secretary made references to her comprehensive state schooling in Leeds as she launched her leadership campaign on Thursday.

Ms Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, said: "I didn't come from a traditional Conservative background. I grew up in Paisley, and I went to a comprehensive school in Leeds.

"Many of the children I was at school with were let down by low expectations, poor educational standards and a lack of opportunity. Too much talent went to waste."

Ms Truss, who is among five candidates remaining in the leadership contest after the latest round of voting, went to Roundhay School in the 1980s and 1990s. The school has been rated as outstanding by Ofsted since 2013.

Roundhay School Credit: Google

Labour councillor and Leeds City Council leader James Lewis said on Twitter: "Like Liz Truss, I went to Leeds Council schools in the Thatcher and Major years and the truth is it was Conservative government underfunding of schools for 18 years that really let kids down."

Ms Truss's comments come after she previously made reference to growing up in a "the heart of the red wall".

Fabian Hamilton, the Labour MP representing Leeds North East, said: "Once again, Liz Truss has shown she knows little about North East Leeds.

"First, she wrongly suggested that Roundhay was a red wall seat and now she has criticised our hard-working teachers and school staff in Leeds.

"Roundhay School has been an excellent educational institution for decades and its staff and students are real assets to our community. It's shameful that Liz Truss has decided to attack them today."

Ms Truss went to Roundhay School after her parents moved to Leeds from Scotland, and they later moved to Canada.

In a 2020 speech, Ms Truss said: "As a comprehensive school student in Leeds in the 1980s and 1990s, I was struck by the lip service paid to equality by the city council while children from disadvantaged backgrounds were let down.

"While we were taught about racism and sexism, there was too little time spent making sure everyone could read and write."

She said: "Rather than promoting policies that would have been a game changer for the disenfranchised, like better education and business opportunities, there was a preference for symbolic gestures."