Hackney leader spurns his schools

5th March 2004 at 00:00
The leader of an education authority, once dubbed the worst in England, has said he would not send his own children to its schools.

Mike Tomlinson, the chair of Hackney's not-for-profit Learning Trust, said:

"I want the position to be where I will honestly say to every parent in Hackney I would be happy to send my child to these schools. I can't do that at the moment I am afraid."

The former chief inspector makes his comments in a Channel 4 documentary tonight. In The Best for My Child, Fiona Millar, a former aide to Cherie Blair and Alastair Campbell's partner, says the middle-class flight from inner-city comprehensives has created a timebomb for state education.

Mr Tomlinson, who heads the trust which took over the east London borough's schools last year, told The TES that his comments were "quite reasonable" and "a matter of absolute honesty". His children were educated in state comprehensives and grammars.

But he said the schools had made "enormous strides" in the past two years with last summer's GCSE results, the fastest improving in the country.

His comments are the latest blow to the borough's morale. Last year Diane Abbott, one of Hackney's Labour MPs decided to send her son to the independent City of London school. In 2000, Mr Tomlinson's predecessor at Ofsted, Chris Woodhead, named Hackney as the worst local authority in the country and its education services suffered an ill-fated partial privatisation involving Nord Anglia.

Mark Lushington, a spokesman for Hackney National Union of Teachers, said it was hard to know how Mr Tomlinson had reached his conclusions and why he had made his comments without discussing them with the borough's education stakeholders.

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