MPs call on City Hall to use end of Serco deal to create best education service

Read it on the Telegraph & Argus website

By"Ben Barnett

Bradford MPs are calling on City Hall decision makers to grasp the opportunity to create one of the best Education systems in the country.

Residents are being urged to join Bradford Council's debate to help devise the right education services for the district's Schools when its deal with Serco, operating locally as Education Bradford, runs out in 2011.

The Telegraph & Argus invited the district's MPs to say what, if any, changes would they make.

Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe said: "This is a good opportunity to give Bradford one of the best education systems in the country.

"I think there are a number of options to look at, including co-operatives and university partnerships with schools. Many of our schools are diverse and innovative and this is an opportunity for the Council to be innovative."

Schools Secretary Ed Balls will decide whether the Council has the option to resume the full running of education after the government directed services away from City Hall for its poor inspection result nine years ago.

Mr Sutcliffe said: "All of us who have been involved understand what went wrong the first time. We wouldn't let that happen again.

"The contract with Education Bradford should be ended. There's been too many changes of staff and the relationships haven't worked as well as they might have. I want to see a strong education authority in officers of the Council."

Bradford North MP Terry Rooney said: "It's got to come back in-house. We need much better leadership on the provision side than we have had, but I don't think we have the capacity in house at the moment. We need to bring new people in.

"We need to be more dynamic in the relationship with schools and need to get a lot smarter at early intervention, getting involved when things start to go wrong. There is huge additional cost through having the provider side out-sourced and all that money is effectively coming out of schools' budgets."

Bradford West MP Marsha Singh said: "The experience we've had with Serco is that standards haven't improved really in any significant way. Education services should go back to the local authority."

Shipley MP Philip Davies said: "I'm not a big fan of local education authorities - more power should be given to schools, governors and head teachers.

"It's not in schools' interests to keep chopping and changing."

Keighley MP Ann Cryer was unavailable for comment.