Education Secretary Michael Gove has launched another astonishing attack on East Durham schools during a debate in Parliament.
Mr Gove made the comments after Easington MP Grahame Morris asked a question during Education Questions in the House of Commons.
Mr Morris asked whether Durham Free School, in Bowburn, represented good value for money after it was reported it employed nine members of staff, but had only 30 pupils.
The Government says the free school initiative has been launched in response to what local people say they want and need in order to improve education for children in their community.
Mr Gove responded to the question saying: “I think it represents excellent value because for far too long schools in County Durham, particularly in the east of the county,0 have not been good enough.
“The fact that parents at last have a challenger school helping to raise standards in an area where frankly working class children have been let down for far too long by a complacent Labour Party is to be welcomed.
“A genuine progressive would welcome it instead of carping and reading from the NASUWT and NUT hymn book.”
It comes just weeks after it was revealed that record numbers of students at Shotton Hall Academy, Easington Academy and Seaham School of Technology achieved 5 A*-C grade, including maths and English.
There were also record-breaking results at Dene Community School, which continues to improve year on year, and St Bede’s achieved their best results ever with more students than ever before exceeding the Government’s benchmark of making three and four levels of progress in English and Math since starting in Year 7.
In April, Mr Gove claimed there is a lack of ambition in traditional communities like East Durham and the area’s schools smell of a sense of defeatism.
It caused uproar among MPs and teachers.
Following Education Questions, Mr Morris said: “I am astounded that once again Michael Gove has chosen to attack East Durham schools, rather than praising the hard work and dedication of students, teachers and their families who have helped to raise standards and deliver record GCSE results this year.
“Michael Gove continues to pump money into his free school pet projects, while neglecting existing schools like Seaham School of Technology, which has been fighting ever since he came to office and pulled the plug on their new school building.
“It is time Mr Gove came to face the families and the students he is so quick to deride, and explain why a privileged few attending a free school are more important to him than the thousands of children attending school across East Durham.”
Mr Morris added: “Michael Gove continues to attack East Durham schools which he knows nothing about. He refuses any invitation to visit the schools which he is quick to condemn, but is unwilling to help.
“Mr Gove is deluded by political prejudice, and is more interested in trying to score political points than in the education of our children.”