Hackney near top for value

12th March 2004 at 00:00
Mike Tomlinson's remarks about Hackney's schools on Channel 4's "The best for my child" (TES, March 5), were, at best, a gross misjudgment. They have angered a large number of governors, headteachers, teachers and parents in the borough by once again appearing to denigrate the considerable and continuing achievements we have made.

Hackney schools are near the top of the value-added tables, have improved year-on-year over the past four on other government targets and have a number of beacon schools, approved when Mike Tomlinson was chief inspector.

His comments were particularly crass coming from the present chair of the Learning Trust, which is sub-contracted to run education in Hackney. After all, the Learning Trust was created to bring stability and promote confidence in education here. Mike Tomlinson has just done the exact opposite.

Maybe he was overwhelmed by a moment in the limelight with Fiona Millar, an example of the "I speak as I find" tabloid populism of the David Blunkett variety.

Another explanation could be that he was simply engaged in a routine rubbishing of his predecessors' record so that his own will shine more brightly in the future.

We might know more about his views if we had seen more of him. He seems to have spent much of his time working for the Government on the reform of the 14-19 curriculum.

Certainly, he has never held a meeting for teachers in this borough, whereas Tim Brighouse, the Commissioner for London schools, has - and wrote "thank you" letters afterwards.

We have requested an apology from Mr Tomlinson and understand this has now been received. We are grateful for that but hope that something like this will never happen again.

Mark Lushington

Hackney National Union of Teachers

2 Hillman Street

London E8

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