This means it is likely that at least one year group aged between 11 and 16 will pass through Outwood Riverside Academy without ever having set foot in a truly purpose-built school.
I was able to ask the Prime Minister about this terrible situation on Prime Minister’s Questions recently. Unfortunately he couldn’t answer the question about Outwood Riverside.
However, he told me he was “proud of what the Government is doing in Teesside and the Tees Valley to support education with the recent announcement of new sixth forms”.
This was confusing because my question was not about sixth form provision. And it was all the more confusing because not only are new sixth forms not needed, but there is evidence that there is actually a surplus of sixth form offerings in our region.
While children in Teesside and County Durham are suffering through this dodgy concrete scandal which, by their own admission, has angered the Tory government – I won’t use their exact words in the Great Daily of the North – and in Middlesbrough, around 500 are Children taught in an old HMRC office. We are told that this is fine because a high school is in the pipeline.
Of course, the sixth form in question is a free school, proposed by a partnership between Star Academies and Eton College. But if one were to replace the word “Eton” with any other word in the English language, or even in the Latin or Greek languages, I do not believe for a second that this plan would be adopted.
The last time the Department for Education carried out a Tees Valley Area Review on the issue, its final report concluded that a number of mergers of existing providers were actually needed to avoid duplication and “to give colleges and universities a stronger financial footing.” to empower at the same time”. to better meet the long-term economic and educational needs of students and employers.”
So we know that we have excess capacity and that with the opening of this new university there will be a further decline in the number of students aged over 16. It will exacerbate the problem.
The students competing for admission to Eton/Star will undoubtedly do well, but that should be the norm for all students, not just the select few.
From my work on the Business and Trade Select Committee, I know that we face significant economic challenges in harnessing the industrial opportunities and demands of decarbonisation, particularly here on Teesside, given the skills shortages that core industries continue to complain about – not least in the automotive industry, as the UK catches up in terms of electric vehicle gigafactories and the like.
We need to ensure that students not only have the opportunity to pursue an academic career at higher university, but that they are all able to fulfill their GCSE potential and then have the opportunity to excel in engineering and technical careers by acquiring the skills our economy needs and is currently lacking.
This is the only way we can grow our economy while meeting the needs of the net zero era.