Bletchley school held up as beacon for education everywhere

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Water Hall Primary School was held up as an example of the future of education across the UK, when Shadow Education Minister Tristram Hunt visited on Wednesday.

The MP visited the Lakes Estate school after meeting headteacher Tony Draper at a recent headteachers’ conference.

And Mr Hunt also set out his vision for education if Labour win next year’s general election.

He said: “Today is about supporting a great headteacher and a great school. What Water Hall Primary has shown is that you can produce outstanding results for young people, even if they come from disadvantaged backgrounds. And it that’s true for Water Hall then it’s true for schools and disadvantaged communities across the country.

“The key is that you need a strong vision and leadership for the school. You need to invest in your teachers because the most important element in a school’s success is the quality of teaching in the classroom. And you need to have high expectations for the kids, particularly if they are from disadvantaged backgrounds and may not otherwise receive the sort of opportunities that might be available to other kids.”

Mr Hunt said that Labour would end the current government’s controversial free schools programme, which has allowed parents, teachers or businesses to set up their own schools, funded by the taxpayer but not answerable to the local authorities.

Critics have said that free schools divert money away from existing schools, and have complained that they can employ unqualified teachers.

Mr Hunt was himself criticised this month for his proposal that new teachers should take a public oath when they start their job, committing themselves to the values of the profession.

He told the Citizen: “I want to raise the status and standing of teachers, in Milton Keynes, in Bletchley, and across the UK.

“I was struck, on a trip to Singapore, how highly they value teachers, and part of that is a public oath which new teachers swear. My view is that if profession wants to develop such an oath, then that’s something I would support.”