Letter: School gimmicks

Sir: Ministers claim they are privatising Hackney education authority because they are acting on behalf of Hackney parents and children ("Hackney loses control of its schools", 20 March).

In fact at no time have local people been consulted about this. And privatising the education authority was not part of the local election manifesto or my manifesto at the general election, for the very good reason that this is not Labour Party policy.

There is no evidence that this step will raise standards. What it will do is put tens of thousands of pounds ,which should be spent in schools ,in the pockets of consultants and contractors. And it will undermine local control.

If ministers really want to raise standards in areas like Hackney they should try giving teachers a decent salary rise. But that would mean taxing Middle England. And the Chancellor has actually cut income tax. So New Labour is prepared to sacrifice the life chances of poor children on the altar of low taxation, and rely instead on gimmicky management changes and consultants.

DIANE ABBOTT MP

(Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Lab)

House of Commons

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