MP Bob Seely has slammed the Isle of Wight Council’s handling of school place planning in Parliament today (23 October).
During Education Questions in the House of Commons, Mr Seely said: “On the Isle of Wight, Councillors are proving unwilling or incapable of delivering a school place plan despite their legal duty."
Mr Seely asked the Minister: “Will he work with me to ensure the Isle of Wight Council acts to fulfil its legal obligations? At the moment they are letting down parents and pupils and teachers.”
Education Minister, Nick Gibb, responded saying: “My honourable friend is absolutely right to raise this issue. We are aware that the Isle of Wight is experiencing a decline in numbers of primary age children which is creating surplus places.
“The Department is closely monitoring the situation and the Southeast Regional Director is meeting with the Local Authority next month to discuss this and other concerns that we have with the Isle of Wight.”
Mr Seely recently raised his concerns about the issue with Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, when she visited the Island earlier this month. He has also written to Education Ministers about the issue.
Speaking after parliamentary questions Mr Seely said: “I am worried about a number of issues in relation to Island education at the moment. The Alliance-led council is letting our young people down.
“Headteachers say – for the good of Island children – several small schools must close. Nobody likes the idea of shutting schools, but worse is allowing schools to fail. School funding is based on pupil numbers. Fewer pupils equal less funding. There are 200+ vacant primary school places. The result is that some schools have too few pupils whilst others are starved of funds.
“Councillors have shilly-shallied twice over the summer, creating a shambles. Letting schools collapse is cruel and incompetent. Debts rack up. Teachers quit. Parents take children out of school. I’ve told ministers to get tough on indecisive, left-wing IW Councillors. I won’t let them get away with failing our kids and our teachers.
“I raised the issue in Parliament today and I am pleased to say I have a commitment from the Government that they will work with me to make sure that the Council do not fail in their legal duty to plan for school places.”